Monday, October 26, 2009

Reutimann Finishes 16th at Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 25, 2009) – David Reutimann started fifth in Sunday’s Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway and would spend much of the day inside the top ten. But late in the race Reutimann found himself off pit sequence from the leaders, which cost him several positions resulting in a 16th-place finish.

On Friday, still recovering from the flu-like symptoms that plagued him last weekend, Reutimann climbed behind the wheel of the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine and turned in a qualifying lap good enough for the fifth position.

“It was a decent lap, so we’ll see what happens,” said Reutimann. “We had a pretty good Aaron’s Dream Machine - we just missed it a little bit.”

When the race began on Sunday, Reutimann started to notice a problem with the No. 00 Toyota Camry. “I need some help; there’s no forward bite,” explained Reutimann. “Right when I pick up the gas the car is really free.”

Nevertheless, he was able to keep the Aaron’s Dream Machine in the top ten through the first hundred laps while the team worked on the problem.

When the caution flag flew on lap 177, crew chief Rodney Childers summoned his driver to pit road along with a few of the race leaders. However, many drivers elected to stay out so when Reutimann restarted the race he was mired back in 27th.

“Be careful,” warned Childers. “A lot of fast cars are going to be working past some slower cars. Be patient.”

By lap 215 Reutimann was back up to the 15th position, but the forward bite on the No. 00 wasn’t getting any better and Childers realized they were going to have to approach the problem a different way. Instead of continuing to make trackbar changes, he decided to undo some of those modifications and started adjusting the wedge.

That seemed to work as Reutimann steadily moved forward and when caution came out on lap 301 Reutimann reported that the Aaron’s Dream Machine was “the best it’s been.”

Hearing that prompted Childers to roll the dice and have his driver stay out while others pitted. That decision allowed Reutimann to take the lead when the action restarted on lap 306. Childers knew Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin were probably strong enough to eventually pass Reutimann, but with track position being so important this was their opportunity to get into the top five.

The strategy appeared to pay off as Reutimann was able to hold the lead for 20 laps and then stay inside the top ten until lap 357. But as the laps continued to tick away without another caution flag the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine began to slide back into the pack. It was an unfortunate time for the race to go through its longest green-flag run of the day.

Finally on lap 412 Reutimann was forced to pit under green, which caused him to lose three laps and dropped him to 29th. Luckily the green-flag run continued prompting the rest of the field to pit under green and allowed the Aaron’s Dream Machine was race back onto the lead lap.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time for Reutimann to fight his way back to the front. Stuck in the middle of the pack he sustained damage to the Aaron’s Dream Machine when the No. 82 of Scott Speed got loose and slide back into his front, left fender. While it wasn’t a major collision the No. 00 was already struggling in traffic and this wouldn’t help.

When the checkered flag dropped Reutimann had battled up to 16th.

“It was tough break,” said Reutimann. “We had a pretty good car, but that long green-flag run just killed us. Rodney made a good call to get me to the front, but it just didn’t work out.”

Denny Hamlin was able to hold off Jimmie Johnson to pick up his third victory of the year. Juan Montoya, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon completed the top five.

Next weekend the Sprint Cup series heads to Talladega Superspeedway. ABC will provide television coverage for the Amp Energy 500 beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET on November 1.

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