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Reutimann Reigns on Rainy Monday
By Reid Spencer, Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
CONCORD, N.C.(May 25, 2009) - He’ll take it!
David Reutimann was the big winner in NASCAR’s losing battle against Mother Nature in Monday’s rain-shortened 24 Hours of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
Nearly 25 hours after the 50th edition of the race was supposed to start, and with menacing storm cells dotting the radar, NASCAR called the event after 227 of a scheduled 400 laps. That made a first-time winner of Reutimann, who parlayed a strategic call by crew chief Rodney Childers into the unlikely victory.
The win in NASCAR’s longest race, which was postponed from Sunday because of rain, was the first for Michael Waltrip Racing--now in its third season of NASCAR Sprint Cup competition--and the first for a Toyota team other than Joe Gibbs Racing. Reutimann led five laps, all under the final caution. He was running 14th when rain started falling on Lap 221.
The top three finishers--Reutimann, polesitter Ryan Newman and Robby Gordon--remained on the track when NASCAR threw the sixth caution of the race on Lap 221 after a shower hit Turn 2. Six laps later, the race was red-flagged for the fourth time. Carl Edwards and Brian Vickers, who each took two tires under yellow on lap 222, finished fourth and fifth.
“It certainly wasn’t the prettiest win,” said Reutimann, who won the race with his father, renowned short-track racer Buzzie Reutimann, in attendance. “Rodney Childers made a great call and told me to stay out.
“When you envision winning your first Sprint Cup race, this is not exactly the way you envision it. But these things are so hard to win, we’ll take it any way we can get it. … It’s fun, but I felt like I was down on pit road for a month (waiting for NASCAR to call the race).”
Reutimann gained two positions to 13th in the standings, trailing 12th-place Mark Martin by six points.
“Obviously, their crew chief made an awesome call,” an elated Michael Waltrip said of the No. 00 Toyota team’s effort. “David and I have been in position to win races before, and fate took it away from us. So I look at this as payback.”
Kyle Busch led a race-high 173 laps but was victimized by rain for the second straight NASCAR event. On Saturday night, he had the dominant car in the rain-shortened CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race, which Mike Bliss won by conserving fuel and staying out until a storm hit the speedway.
Busch passed Newman on Lap 3 and thereafter dominated the green-flag segments of the race, which were run between interruptions from intermittent thundershowers. Newman lost track position when he had to bring his No. 39 Chevrolet back to the pits to tighten a lug nut under a competition caution called on Lap 41.
Newman and crew chief Tony Gibson discussed strategy during the final caution and made the call that salvaged a good finish.
Notes: Newman posted his fourth straight top-five finish. The last time he had a comparable streak was 2005. … Robby Gordon’s third was his best finish since he ran second at Watkins Glen International in 2005. … Bill Elliott finished 15th in his 800th NASCAR Sprint Cup start. … Kurt Busch came to pit road with a vibration on Lap 193, and his crew corrected the problem by changing right-side tires on the No. 2 Dodge. The unscheduled stop moved Busch to 34th at the finish. He remained third in points but fell 115 behind leader Jeff Gordon, who finished 14th. … Dale Earnhardt Jr. fought an ill-handling car from the outset, lost two laps on the track and finished 40th.
Unofficial Results click here
Unofficial Driver Point Standings click here
NASCAR Newscast - Coca-Cola 600 Video Recap click here
Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images for NASCAR
Rain Forces Delay of Coca-Cola 600
Rain showers had plagued the area all day - until heavy rain started falling just before Sunday's scheduled start time for the
Coca-Cola 600. NASCAR and track officials waited close to two hours in hopes of squeezing the show in Sunday but finally had
to postpone until Monday at Noon (ET), 1 p.m. (AT). The race will be broadcast by FOX and TSN.
This marks only the second time in the event 50-year history that it has been postponed, and the first time it has been
run on Memorial Day; the first time came in the inaugural Coca-Cola 600 in 1960 - then pushed back to June 13 because March snowstorms delayed
construction of the new track.
The change from night racing to a daytime race may throw teams a curve - at least to start, having their cars set for cooler
Green Flag Fast Facts
The Race: Coca-Cola 600
The Date: Sunday, May 24
The Track: Lowe’s Motor Speedway (1.5-mile quad-oval)
The Time: 5:45 p.m. ET
The Distance: 400 laps/600 miles
TV: FOX 6 p.m. AT
Radio: PRN and Sirius Satellite
2008 Polesitter: Kyle Busch
2008 Winner: Kasey Kahne
Schedule: (local track time) Thursday, Practice, 3-4:30. Qualifying, 7:10. Saturday, 2:45-3:30 and 6-6:50 p.m.
Year-To-Date Results & Point Standings click here
TV Broadcast Times*
Qualifying Time Trials: Thursday May 21 at 8 p.m./SPEED
Practice: Friday May 22 at 2:30 p.m./SPEED
Final Practice: Friday May 22 at 7 p.m./SPEED
RaceDay, Pre-Race Show: Sunday May 24 at 4 p.m./SPEED
FOX Pre-Race Show: Sunday May 24 at 6 p.m./FOX & TSN
Race: Sunday May 24 at 6:45 p.m./FOX & TSN
*Times shown are AT - one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
Practice, Qualifying, Starting Lineup & More...
Ryan Newman won the Coors Light Pole Award for the COCA-COLA 600 with a lap of 28.651 seconds,
Complete Starting Lineup click here
NASCAR Newscast - Coca-Cola Preview click here
- This is his 44th pole in 272 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
- His first pole in the series came at the
2001 COCA-COLA 600
- This is his first pole and fifth top-10 start in 2009.
- This is his eighth pole in 17 races at Lowe's Motor Speedway at Charlotte.
- Kyle Busch (second) posted his eighth top-10 start of 2009 and his third in 11 races at Lowe's Motor
Speedway at Charlotte.
- Jeff Gordon (third) posted his 22nd top-10 start at Lowe's Motor Speedway at Charlotte. It is his ninth
in 12 races this season.
- Joey Logano (14th) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
- Drivers that failed to qualify include: JJ Yeley, Mike Garvey, Todd Bodine and David Starr.
*Does not reflect adjustments that may be made prior to the race start because of the cars that need to go
to the rear of the field due to engine and/or transmission changes or practice wrecks...
- NASCAR Celebrates The 50th Coca-Cola 600...Cue the balloons and noisemakers.
When the green flag falls late Sunday afternoon at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers will contest the 50th running of one of the sport’s most notable events — the Coca-Cola 600.
As NASCAR’s longest race, the Coca-Cola 600 has embraced career-defining debuts, victories and action each year since its 1960 christening — an inimitable formula of distance and difficulty that hasn’t mellowed with the years.
“I think it's more of a mental thing that our minds are programmed for 500 miles,” said three-time Coca-Cola 600 champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet), “and when you hear halfway and you look up at the scoreboard and you realize you've gone 300 and you've got 300 to go, it's kind of a mental thing that you have to focus on.”
Joe Lee Johnson won the first Coca-Cola 600 on June 19, 1960, also the first race at the then-new 1.5-mile track outside Charlotte, N.C. Intended as a new Memorial Day tradition, that first Coca-Cola 600 had to wait a few weeks as construction crews completed their work.
But since then, tradition has held firm. A quick statistical synopsis:
Beginning with Joe Lee Johnson, 14 drivers have won one Coca-Cola 600.
Thirteen drivers have won multiple Coca-Cola 600s, led by three-time series champion Darrell Waltrip’s five victories.
Six drivers have won three Coca-Cola 600s: David Pearson, Buddy Baker, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) and Jimmie Johnson.
Six other drivers have won two Coca-Cola 600s: Fred Lorenzen, Jim Paschal, Richard Petty, Neil Bonnett, Jeff Burton (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) and Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge).
Reigning and three-time series champion Jimmie Johnson is the only driver to win three consecutive Coca-Cola 600s. He did it from 2003-05.
“I do like the 600-mile race from a history standpoint,” he said. “And I also like the challenge, to work on the car all night long. Start in the day, go to the night, the longer race, all the aspects that come with it ."
- The Longest And The Toughest: Uniqueness Of Coca-Cola 600 Format...Four hundred laps and 600 miles usually equals approximately four-and-a-half hours behind the wheel at 1.5-mile Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
Add late May heat and humidity. Teeth-rattling speeds. The evolution of a daylight start, mid-race dusk and a checkered flag in the evening. Combined, all those factors pose unique challenges, making patience, endurance and focus the keys to thriving in — and winning — the Coca-Cola 600.
“The late afternoon start throws a wrench at you because your eating and sleep schedules change,” said Jeff Burton, the 1999 Coca-Cola 600 champion. “Then, you add 600 miles of racing on top of that. It’s a perfect storm of stuff going on that makes this race a challenge. Don’t get me wrong – there are no excuses. You have to be physically ready no matter what.”
Fuel mileage and pit-road strategy become paramount as the hours dwindle.
“The track will change a lot as the sun goes down,” said Matt Kenseth (No. 17 R&L Carriers Ford), the 2000 Coca-Cola 600 champion, “and you have to have your car set up where you can keep up with the track with different adjustments when needed. You'll have to keep up with the track conditions and that usually means altering your setup throughout the race.”
“It’s tough on equipment and it’s tough mentally,” said Jeff Gordon, a three-time Coca-Cola 600 champion. “You have to mentally stay in the game and be focused for 600 miles.”
- It’s Johnson’s House, But Edwards And Kyle Busch May Have A Foot In The Door...The obvious favorite at Lowe’s Motor Speedway is Jimmie Johnson.
He’s the only driver with an average finish under 10.0 (his is 8.9).
He’s the only driver with a Driver Rating over 110.0 (his is 117.1). And he’s the only driver with an Average Running Position under 10.0 (his is 7.2).
But two other drivers in particular seem poised to steal Johnson’s “King of Lowe’s Motor Speedway” crown: Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch.
Neither have won, but theirs statistics suggest it is just a matter of time.
Edwards has the second-best average finish – 10.8, the only other driver close to average a top-10 finish.
Likewise, his career Loop Data statistics at LMS are strong.
He has a Driver Rating of 89.0 (seventh-best), an Average Running Position of 16.8 (eighth), 61 Fastest Laps Run (13th), a series-high 604 Green Flag Passes and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 51.6% (10th).
Busch seems even more likely to nab his first LMS win, which would fit his success spectrum. He has 15 wins, and only at Bristol Motor Speedway is he a repeat winner. It’s almost as if Busch loves the element of surprise.
But if he wins at LMS, few will be shocked.
Busch has finished in the top four in each of the last three LMS races, and has led at least one lap in the last five races there.
Busch’s Loop Data statistics are among the best. He is the only other driver beside Johnson to earn a Driver Rating over 100.0. His is 100.4.
Additionally, Busch has an Average Running Position of 12.2 (third-best), 183 Fastest Laps Run (third-most), an average Green Flag Speed of 176.233 mph (second-fastest) and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 75.1% (third).
- Bill Elliott, the 1988 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, is approaching a significant milestone. His next start will be his 800th, which means fans may witness history if Elliott qualifies the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Motorcraft Ford for Sunday’s 50th Coca-Cola 600.
- David Reutimann (No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota) will make his 75th career start on Sunday....
- All 50 U.S. states are accounted for in the home address of ticketholders for Sunday’s 50th Coca-Cola 600, according to LMS officials, who also report that fans from Canada, Australia, Belgium, Bermuda, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom will attend Sunday’s race.
- NASCAR legend Bobby Allison, the 1983 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion who will serve as Grand Marshal for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, will be honored the day before in Concord, N.C.
Historic Downtown Concord is hosting a Tribute to Bobby Allison from 3-7 p.m. on Friday, May 22. It’s a family-oriented event on Union Street that will include a proclamation, musical performances by Charlotte Music Legends Band and Jeff Luckadoo.
- The winner of Sunday’s 50th Coca-Cola 600 will take home an unusual and significant trophy.
Black Oscuro marble forms the base, which supports an Everdur bronze piston plated in 22-carat gold. Crystal columns engraved with winners’ names and race dates surround the piston. Commemorative logos also grace the base.
Weighing 225 pounds, the trophy was a product of Efron Design and constructed by Innocast Execuline.
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