Starting 22nd after a disappointing qualifying run, Reutimann’s Aaron’s Dream Machine immediately flexed its muscles. Within the first 20 laps the No. 00 Toyota Camry had move up ten spots to 12th.
However, Reutimann soon radioed in to his crew chief Rodney Childers that his car was, “real loose on exit (of the turns).”
By lap 45, Reutimann was running 11th, but the problems were getting worse. “I need help with forward bite and center off,” pleaded Reutimann.
On lap 51, Childers called his driver to pit road for new tires and a handling adjustment that he hoped would correct the loose condition on the Aaron’s Dream Machine.
However, Reutimann soon reported that the car wasn’t much better than before. Luckily, a caution flag waved on lap 81, allowing the team to bring in the No. 00 for more changes. This time Childers called for both wedge and trackbar changes.
The changes initially appeared to be working, as Reutimann moved from 15th up to 11th by the time another caution came out on lap 101. Bringing in the Dream Machine for another stop, the team again made trackbar and wedge adjustments.
The third caution was brought out just a few laps later on lap 108, when teammate Marcos Ambrose brushed the wall.
Childers opted to pit again and take on four fresh tires. But with only a few laps on their tires many teams chose to only take two tires, which caused the Aaron’s Dream Machine to lose several spots.
After listening to his crew chief apologize for the loss of track position, Reutimann calmly radioed in, “That’s OK. Get me fixed up and I’ll drive back by those guys.”
Unfortunately, while he was indeed able to regain the lost track position the drive up the scoring chart was short-lived.
The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine was great at the beginning of a run, allowing Reutimann to easily pass competitors. But every time, the handling would start to go away within a dozen laps and he wasn’t able to maintain his forward march.
The team tried to make major changes to the Dream Machine on the last three pit stops, but each stop the extra time on pit road cost Reutimann more spots on the track than his car was able to make up before the handling went away.
Ultimately, Reutimann and the Aaron’s team would have a settle for 15th-place finish.
“We’re a little disappointed with the finish,” said Reutimann after the race. “The car was just off. We chased it, but were never able to get it running the way it should’ve. But I’ve got to thank my guys. They’ve done a great job all season and lately have been doing an awesome job in the pits. We’ll take a little break, then regroup and come back strong at Daytona.”
Denny Hamlin was able to score his fourth win of the season, beating out Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson. However, the celebration belonged to Johnson, who held on to the points lead with his fifth-place finish and vaulted himself into the history books with his fourth consecutive championship.
With two poles, ten top-tens, five top-fives plus the win at