This season, the 47-year-old Roger and his younger brother Bobby were selected to drive the road courses for owner-driver Mike Harmon in 2014. Bobby made his NASCAR debut at Road America in June, finishing 29th in Harmon’s #74. Roger’s came next when he climbed into the same car last week at Watkins Glen and came home 30th.
While technically “road course ringers,” the Reuse brothers are actually accomplished short track racers from Alabama. According to The Third Turn, Bobby has competed in at least four different divisions since 2009, and big brother Roger’s career goes back even further.
Roger cut his teeth at his home track, the Birmingham International Raceway, finishing 5th in the Pure Stock division in 1984. From 1986 through 1991, he competed in five seasons in the NASCAR Goody’s Dash Series, finishing a career-best 9th in points his final season. Since then, he’s competed in everything from late models to the 2007 Snowball Derby, where he finished 23rd. Just last year, he made three starts in the Southern Super Series and one in the Sunoco Gulf Coast Championship Series, the latter a series Chase Elliott won in 2010.
Last Sunday was the second-consecutive road course race on the Nationwide Series calendar. With just 37 cars on the preliminary entry list, two post-entries were added using the backup cars of two single-car teams. John Jackson climbed aboard the #79, the Jimmy Means Racing backup for full-time driver Joey Gase. Mike Harmon followed suit by entering both Reuse brothers. With Bobby already slated to drive the #74, Harmon changed the numbers on his backup Dodge to #77, putting Roger in that car.
Roger did not participate in the opening practice session on Friday, then completed just one lap at reduced speed in Happy Hour. He also put up the slowest speed in qualifying with a lap of 76.267 mph, nearly 20 mph slower than polesitter Sam Hornish, Jr.’s lap of 95.873 mph.
At the start of the race, John Jackson briefly held the 39th spot before Reuse took it back on Lap 2, then pulled off the track two laps later. The first caution fell seconds later for Jeffery Earnhardt, whose #4 Bandit Chippers Chevrolet lost the brakes in Turn 4 and narrowly avoided a hard hit into the tires. Earnhardt held the 38th spot for much of the race, but returned to finish the race 18 laps down. He came home 28th, passing the rest of the Bottom Five in the process.
Finishing 38th was Josh Reaume, the road course driver of The Motorsports Group’s #46, who fell out four laps after Reuse. Finishing 37th was Timmy Hill, making his first Nationwide start since Dover in May, driving the #55 Hopek Hardware Plus / Engine Parts Plus Chevrolet. 36th went to Carl Long, his first start since Iowa and third of the year for Rick Ware. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Blake Koch, whose run in TriStar’s #10 Toyota ended after 12 laps.
Jeff Green, still four finishes behind Koch in the 2014 LASTCAR Nationwide Series rankings, made his third start of the year filling in for Eric McClure in the #14 Reynolds Wrap / Hefty Ultimate Toyota. Green ran in the Top 5 briefly during a round of pit stops, but crashed out after 70 laps, leaving him 29th.
*This is the first last-place finish for the #77 in a Nationwide race since November 17, 2007, when Bobby Labonte’s Dollar General Chevrolet was involved in a crash that ended his run in the Ford 300 at Homestead after 4 laps.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
39) #77-Roger Reuse / 3 laps / transmission
38) #46-Josh Reaume / 7 laps / electrical
37) #55-Timmy Hill / 10 laps / brakes
36) #15-Carl Long / 11 laps / suspension
35) #10-Blake Koch / 12 laps / vibration
LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Blake Koch (7)
2nd) Jeff Green (3)
3rd) Matt DiBenedetto, Kevin Lepage (2)
4th) Tanner Berryhill, Ryan Ellis, Matt Frahm, Roger Reuse, Robert Richardson, Jr., Tim Schendel, Jimmy Weller, Josh Wise (1)
LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #10-TriStar Motorsports (8)
2nd) #46-The Motorsports Group (5)
3rd) #91-TriStar Motorsports (2)
4th) #17-Vision Racing, #23-R3 Motorsports, #55-VIVA Motorsports / SS Green Light Racing, #74-Mike Harmon Racing, #77-Mike Harmon Racing, #87-Rick Ware Racing, #93-JGL Racing (1)
LASTCAR N'WIDE SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Toyota (10)
2nd) Chevrolet (8)
3rd) Dodge (4)