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Reutimann wins abbreviated Coca-Cola 600

| Tuesday, May 26, 2009

CONCORD, N.C. — It took 75 races and three rain delays for David Reutimann to earn his first Sprint Cup Series victory.

When a fluke finally put him in position for a win in Monday's rain-delayed Coca-Cola 600, the journeyman driver nervously paced around his car on pit road at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Two hours later, he was declared the winner of one of NASCAR's crown jewel events when the race was stopped once and for all.

"It wasn't the prettiest win, but somebody has to win," he said. "When you envision yourself winning your first Sprint Cup race, you envision it different. But it's so hard to win these deals, we'll take it any way we can."

Reutimann didn't lead a single lap under green-flag racing. He had a mid-pack car as teams jockeyed for position just past the halfway point of the gloomy race, which was washed out on Sunday and carried over to yesterday for the first Memorial Day running in the race's 50-year history.

Because the radar showed a long night of intermittent showers, no one believed the longest race on the NASCAR schedule would go the full 600 miles. So began the game of racing to the front in hopes of being in the right place when the event was finally called.

When rain brought out the caution 22 laps past the halfway point, leader Kyle Busch led a parade of cars down pit road. But Reutimann, Ryan Newman and Robby Gordon didn't follow, and the three moved to the top of the leaderboard.

They led the field for five laps under caution before NASCAR called the cars back to pit road for the third rain stoppage. Most drivers headed to their motorhomes to wait out the rain.

Not Reutimann.

He was joined at his car by his 68-year-old father, Buzzie, a racer with one career NASCAR start who still tears it up in dirt track events at East Bay Raceway near Tampa, Fla. The two didn't bother with an umbrella as they stood in a steady drizzle for just over 2 hours.

"The fact he's here — we always talk about the fact we were going to mess around and win one of these and he wasn't going to be here," Reutimann said. "Fortunately, whether the Truck Series or Nationwide Series or now in the Cup series, he's been here for all of them."

Reutimann's other NASCAR victories were a 2007 Nationwide race at Memphis and a 2005 Truck race at Nashville.

Newman, the pole-sitter, finished second and Gordon was third. Gordon might have a problem, though. NASCAR confiscated his rear axle housing following post-race inspection for further evaluation. Carl Edwards, who had changed into street clothes by the time the race was called, finished fourth, followed by Brian Vickers and Busch.

Reutimann, 39, didn't get his break in the Cup series until Michael Waltrip hired him in 2007 when he formed his own race team. But Michael Waltrip Racing was terrible, and Reutimann was not competitive as he struggled to even make races.

The team has made small strides in the past 2-plus seasons, and Reutimann has carried the banner. He's lingered around the top 12 in points all season and has given MWR credibility.

Now he's made MWR the first Toyota team other than Joe Gibbs Racing to win a Cup race.

"Waltrip gave me an opportunity to go racing in the Cup series when nobody would have thought of giving me an opportunity," Reutimann said.

Rain ruined a race for Busch for the second time in three days. He led a race-high 173 laps and was out front when he pitted during the final caution. He wound up sixth.

Busch led 143 laps in Saturday night's Nationwide Series race, lost the lead during a round of pit stops, and never had a chance to reclaim it when the race was shortened by 45 miles because of rain.

Defending race-winner Kasey Kahne was also denied a chance when, as he was closing in on Busch's bumper, caution was called for rain. In second as they headed down pit road, he wound up seventh when the race never resumed.

It's the second time this season one of NASCAR's crown jewel events was ruined by rain. The season-opening Daytona 500 was shortened by 48 laps and Matt Kenseth was declared the winner after a short delay.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600 results

At Lowe's Motor Speedway · Concord, N.C.

1. (21) David Reutimann, Toyota, 227 laps, 101.3 rating, 190 points, $403,998.

2. (1) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 227, 91.1, 175, $326,754.

3. (37) Robby Gordon, Toyota, 227, 65.4, 170, $208,985.

4. (19) Carl Edwards, Ford, 227, 104, 160, $207,531.

5. (8) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 227, 121.6, 160, $177,898.

6. (2) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 227, 139.4, 160, $200,198.

7. (6) Kasey Kahne, Dodge, 227, 115.2, 146, $159,998.

8. (9) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 227, 106.2, 142, $151,773.

9. (14) Joey Logano, Toyota, 227, 106, 143, $163,351.

10. (30) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 227, 94.1, 134, $160,965.

11. (13) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 227, 95.7, 130, $122,655.

12. (20) Bobby Labonte, Ford, 227, 76.9, 127, $135,829.

13. (5) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 227, 112.7, 129, $158,751.

14. (3) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 227, 82.9, 121, $145,951.

15. (10) Bill Elliott, Ford, 227, 68, 118, $106,000.

16. (26) Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 227, 76, 115, $121,610.

17. (4) Mark Martin, Chevrolet, 227, 89, 112, $111,785.

18. (18) Scott Speed, Toyota, 227, 69.2, 109, $116,648.

19. (28) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 227, 84.9, 106, $109,973.

20. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 227, 76.4, 103, $116,175.

21. (33) Jamie McMurray, Ford, 227, 76.8, 100, $105,050.

22. (35) David Stremme, Dodge, 227, 60.9, 97, $128,615.

23. (12) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 227, 73.8, 94, $131,140.

24. (34) David Ragan, Ford, 227, 61.1, 91, $102,325.

25. (40) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 227, 61.2, 88, $137,731.

26. (23) Marcos Ambrose, Toyota, 227, 58, 85, $104,898.

27. (29) David Gilliland, Chevrolet, 226, 67.4, 82, $89,200.

28. (25) Dave Blaney, Toyota, 226, 54.6, 84, $91,175.

29. (31) Paul Menard, Ford, 226, 53.4, 76, $121,956.

30. (39) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 226, 37.7, 78, $99,925.

31. (15) Elliott Sadler, Dodge, 226, 49.3, 70, $98,775.

32. (38) AJ Allmendinger, Dodge, 226, 46.6, 67, $88,150.

33. (36) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 226, 41.6, 64, $106,975.

34. (17) Kurt Busch, Dodge, 226, 84.1, 61, $106,900.

35. (42) Reed Sorenson, Dodge, 226, 39.5, 58, $125,101.

36. (24) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 226, 40.6, 55, $95,625.

37. (11) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, 226, 41.4, 52, $87,400.

38. (43) Scott Riggs, Toyota, 225, 31.4, 54, $87,285.

39. (41) Tony Raines, Chevrolet, 225, 31.3, 46, $95,175.

40. (27) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 225, 32.7, 43, $105,065.

41. (22) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 224, 31.5, 40, $124,283.

42. (32) Max Papis, Toyota, 219, 26.6, 37, $86,850.

43. (7) Mike Bliss, Dodge, vibration, 42, 24.4, 34, $87,817.

RACE STATISTICS

Average Speed of Race Winner: 120.899 mph.

Time of Race: 2 hours, 48 minutes, 59 seconds.

Margin of Victory: Under Caution.

Caution Flags: 6 for 40 laps.

Lead Changes: 14 among 10 drivers.

Lap Leaders: R.Newman 1-2; Ky.Busch 3-42; J.Johnson 43-48; Ky.Busch 49-72; R.Gordon 73; M.Waltrip 74; S.Riggs 75-77; Ky.Busch 78-119; B.Vickers 120-130; J.Logano 131; D.Blaney 132-133; Ky.Busch 134-144; B.Vickers 145-166; Ky.Busch 167-222; D.Reutimann 223-227.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): Ky.Busch, 5 times for 173 laps; B.Vickers, 2 times for 33 laps; J.Johnson, 1 time for 6 laps; D.Reutimann, 1 time for 5 laps; S.Riggs, 1 time for 3 laps; R.Newman, 1 time for 2 laps; D.Blaney, 1 time for 2 laps; R.Gordon, 1 time for 1 lap; J.Logano, 1 time for 1 lap; M.Waltrip, 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 12 in Points: 1. J.Gordon, 1,722; 2. T.Stewart, 1,678; 3. Ku.Busch, 1,607; 4. J.Johnson, 1,594; 5. D.Hamlin, 1,575; 6. Ky.Busch, 1,540; 7. R.Newman, 1,538; 8. J.Burton, 1,472; 9. M.Kenseth, 1,460; 10. G.Biffle, 1,448; 11. C.Edwards, 1,431; 12. M.Martin, 1,428.

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