Sunday, August 11, 2013

CUP: David Reutimann Continues Streak Of Rare Last-Place Finishers In Cup

David Reutimann picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen at Watkins Glen International when his #83 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota lost the engine after he completed 4 of the race’s 90 laps.

The finish was Reutimann’s first of the year and his first in 205 races, dating back to his rookie season in 2007.  The finish came on November 4 of that year when his other Burger King-sponsored Toyota, the #00 fielded by Michael Waltrip Racing, lost the engine after 90 laps of the Dickies 500 at Texas.

Following his release from Michael Waltrip Racing after the 2011 season, Reutimann moved to the two-car BK Racing team that sprung up after Red Bull Racing closed its doors.  Driving the #93, Reutimann finished 26th in the 2012 Daytona 500, then ceded the ride to Travis Kvapil for most of the year, save for a handful of starts in BK's third #73 team.  The rest of that time, Reutimann drove for Tommy Baldwin Racing in the #10, a team designed to keep Danica Patrick’s Stewart-Haas Racing program in the now-defunct Top 35 in points.  This done, Reutimann gave Xxxtreme Motorsports its Cup debut at Phoenix, then returned to BK Racing to replace Landon Cassill in BK's other team, #83, for 2013.

This year, Reutimann improved to finish 16th in the Daytona 500, but he has not finished inside the Top Twenty ever since.  Four DNFs in the first eleven races, combined with the equal struggles of teammate Travis Kvapil in the #93, have hampered the team’s progress.  Kvapil was himself set for a solid run in the Daytona 500 before a last-lap crash left him 25th, and his season-best 18th-place finish in the night race at Daytona was followed by two wrecks caused by Danica Patrick at New Hampshire and Pocono.

At Watkins Glen, scene of his terrifying flip in 2011, Reutimann qualified 36th at an average speed of 123.708 mph.  Kvapil timed in 38th.  Just 43 cars showed up to fill that many spots, so every driver in qualifying made the show.

At the start of the race, last-place starter Brian Keselowski, making his Cup road race debut in his family-owned #52 Star Coach Race Tours Toyota, held onto the 43rd spot.  The spot was then taken by road race ace Boris Said, whose #32 U.S. Chrome Ford suddenly slipped out of the Top 30 in the early laps.  Then, on Lap 4, Reutimann’s car slowed entering the final two corners, then stopped at the entrance of Turn 6, bringing out the first yellow of the day.  Engine failure was to blame, and Reutimann was done for the day.

Four-time Watkins Glen winner Jeff Gordon brought out the next yellow when he suddenly lost control exiting the Esses on Lap 15 and tagged the outside wall.  He remained in 42nd for much of the race while repairs were made.

The next victim was defending LASTCAR Cup Champion Michael McDowell.  With Phil Parsons Racing skipping the race, McDowell took a turn in the #35 Dockside Logistics Ford for Front Row Motorsports.  He was 14th and 2nd in the two practice sessions and turned in a 12th-fastest driving qualifying time that was the fastest of a group that included Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch.  While running inside the Top 15 just before pit stops, McDowell broke a track bar, then cut down a tire, bringing out the next yellow on Lap 36.

McDowell and Gordon returned to the track around the time that a four-car accident in The Esses took out Kvapil along with “road ringers” Ron Fellows (#33), Victor Gonzalez, Jr. (#36), and Tomy Drissi (#87).  After the ensuing red flag, Kvapil, Gonzalez, and Drissi slipped down past Gordon and McDowell to join Reutimann at the bottom of the field.  Keselowski, who spun in Turn 5 during both practice and qualifying, spun out again in Turn 6 on race day, then pulled behind the wall with brake trouble after 47 laps.  His #52 rounded out the Bottom Five.    

Gordon finished 36th, his second-worst finish at this track (the worst being 37th in 2009).  McDowell came home 38th.

*This was the first last-place finish for the #83 BK Racing team since last June at Pocono when Landon Cassill’s #83 Burger King Real Fruit Smoothies Toyota was involved in a Lap 1 crash with Martin Truex, Jr. and A.J. Allmendinger during the Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR.
*Neither Reutimann nor the #83 had ever before finished last in a Cup Series race at Watkins Glen.
*Toyota is now tied with Plymouth for the sixth-most last-place finishes in Cup Series history (107 each).

43) #83-David Reutimann / 4 laps / engine
42) #87-Tomy Drissi / 39 laps / crash
41) #36-Victor Gonzalez, Jr. / 39 laps / crash
40) #93-Travis Kvapil / 41 laps / crash
39) #52-Brian Keselowski / 47 laps / brakes

1st) Mike Bliss (5)
2nd) Michael McDowell, Scott Riggs (3)
3rd) Bobby Labonte (2)
4th) Trevor Bayne, Dave Blaney, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Jason Leffler, Paul Menard, Joe Nemechek, David Reutimann, Scott Speed (1)

1st) #19-Humphrey-Smith Racing (6)
2nd) #44-Xxxtreme Motorsports, #98-Phil Parsons Racing (3)
3rd) #7-Tommy Baldwin Racing, #11-Joe Gibbs Racing, #21-Wood Brothers Racing, #27-Richard Childress Racing, #31-Richard Childress Racing, #47-JTG Daugherty Racing, #51-Phoenix Racing, #83-BK Racing, #87-NEMCO Motorsports, #95-Leavine Family Racing (1)

1st) Toyota (10)
2nd) Ford (8)
3rd) Chevrolet (4)


Unknown said...

I know it’s a little confusing, but Reutimann was replaced by Kvapil last year in the 93 car, not by Cassill. Cassill ran every race last season in he 83. Reutimann drove the Daytona 500 in the 93, then Kvapil took over. At Darlington, Reutimann was back in the 93 and Kvapil drove the 73. At Charlotte this was switched, with regular driver Kvapil getting the guaranteed start in the 93, with Reutimann in the 73. Reutimann did not qualify in this extra car, and did not drive for BK again until this year when they had a falling-out with Cassill, who sued the team.

Brock Beard said...

Oops! Yes, you are right. Thank you for the heads-up. I shall make the correction.