Homestead: David Reutimann race report

Reutimann Brings Home Career Best Finish of 6th at Homestead-Miami Speedway Homestead, Fla. (November 23, 2009) -- The Nationwide Series traveled to southern Florida this weekend for the 2009 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Making...

Reutimann Brings Home Career Best Finish of 6th at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Homestead, Fla. (November 23, 2009) -- The Nationwide Series traveled to southern Florida this weekend for the 2009 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Making his fifth start in the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota, David Reutimann earned his career best Nationwide Series finish at the track, taking the checkered flag in the sixth position in Saturday night's Ford 300. With the finish, the Dollar General team also secured its seventh-place position in the 2009 owner's point standings.

As the sun began to dip in the Florida sky, Reutimann climbed behind the wheel of the Dollar General Toyota on Saturday, preparing for 200 laps in the lingering heat and humidity. In the opening laps, the No. 32 slid back to the 13th position, but moved back up to the 11th spot by the time the first yellow flag came out on lap 9. Reutimann reported to crew chief, Trent Owens, that the car's handling was very loose. With only nine green-flag laps in the books, they agreed to remain on the track during the caution period and see if the handling changed during the next run. The Dollar General Toyota restarted from the 10th position on lap 12.

Reutimann moved the No. 32 into the ninth spot after a three-wide battle for the position. Debris brought out the next caution on lap 23. Owens called Reutimann to pit road on the following lap for service. The Dollar General team quickly changed four tires, made track bar and air pressure adjustments and added fuel. Green-flag racing resumed on lap 28 with the No. 32 in the 16th position.

"It's still really loose, bud," Reutimann told Owens after running a few laps.

"10-4," replied Owens. "We'll keep working on it."

Despite the loose-handling condition, Reutimann continued to move the Dollar General Toyota through the field. As the car sped around the track, it was evident that he had his hands full. The Camry slid sideways as he moved into the 11th position; however, he held on and continued to pull away from the cars behind him.

On lap 35, an accident on the front stretch brought out the next caution flag. The excitement occurred just in front of the Dollar General Toyota. Reutimann slowed the No. 32 down, narrowly missing the No. 88 as it sat on the track.

"Nice work," said Owens. He then asked, "Did you slide the tires at all? Do we need to come to pit road?"

Reutimann replied, "I'm trying to get back up to speed to check, but I'm not feeling any vibrations." A few moments later he added, "No, I think we're fine."

"10-4" said Owens. "We're staying out."

Racing resumed on lap 39 with the No. 32 car restarting from the eighth spot. Battling for position, the No. 5 car narrowly missed making contact with the Dollar General Camry and fell in line behind the No. 32. Running in the sixth spot on lap 40, Reutimann reported that the car's handling was still extremely loose. Ten laps later he told Owens, "It feels like I'm going to spin out going into [turn] three."

Spotter and cousin, Shawn Reutimann, told his driver that the track conditions would likely change soon. "The sun is going down in turns three and four. Keep doing what you do best and find that spot on the track to help the handling."

Reutimann moved the car into the top-five on lap 64. As the No. 99 and No. 16 battled for the sixth spot in his rearview mirror, he continued to increase the distance between them.

NASCAR threw the caution flag for debris on lap 80, giving the Dollar General team the opportunity they needed to make the necessary adjustments to help with the loose-handling condition. Reutimann brought the Camry to pit road on lap 81 for service. The crew quickly changed four tires, made wedge and air pressure adjustments and packed the car with fuel. Green-flag racing resumed on lap 85 with the Dollar General Toyota in the sixth position. With another competitor struggling on the restart, the outside line slowed and the cars lost valuable positions. This included the No. 32, which slipped back to the eighth spot.

Reutimann went to work to regain the lost positions. He had advanced back to seventh when the yellow flag flew once again on lap 91 for debris on the race track. Reutimann reported that the changes had altered the car's handling in the center of the corner. Owens replied, "It's alright. We'll get it back." The race resumed on lap 96.

During the next run, the Dollar General Toyota's position fluctuated between sixth and seventh. Reutimann told Owens, "I have to drag the brake through the corners to hold onto it. I just feel like I can't go anywhere. I can't get past these guys."

Shawn Reutimann worked to coach his cousin around the track from the spotter's stand. "Stay focused," he told the driver of the Dollar General Toyota. "You're faster than these guys. Trent will take care of you and get you the adjustments you need as soon as he can. We still have a long way to go."

As the long green-flag run progressed and the sun continued to disappear on the horizon, Reutimann reported a change in the car's handling. "I still can't get in and I can't turn in the center like I need to," he said. "Also, it's starting to get a little tight on the throttle."

On lap 144, Owens called his driver to pit road for service. The Dollar General team quickly changed four tires, added fuel and made wedge and air pressure adjustments. As the field cycled through the green-flag stops, Reutimann had moved back up to the ninth position when the caution came out on lap 158 for an accident in turn four.

Owens called out adjustments to the team for the next pit stop, asking for air pressure adjustments in the next set of tires and instructed them not to add fuel. With the crew perched on pit wall, waiting for the Dollar General Camry to pull onto pit road, Owens told his team to instead change the right-side tires only. The quick stop paid off as other teams had opted to make two-tire stops as well. The No. 32 retained its seventh-place position for the restart on lap 163.

As Reutimann was working to pass the No. 20 for the sixth spot, the back end of the No. 32 Camry suddenly snapped sideways. The veteran driver maintained control of the car but lost a couple of positions in the process. With steadfast determination, he began to move forward once again, taking back the seventh position just prior to the final caution of the night on lap 185.

Remaining on the track during the caution period, Reutimann lined up for the restart in the fourth position. Green-flag racing resumed with only 11 laps remaining in the event. On fresher tires, the No. 20 and No. 60 cars were able to move past the Dollar General Camry. The battle in the closing laps was between the No. 32 and the No. 33 for the sixth position. In the end, Reutimann was the victor, bringing the No. 32 to the checkered flag in the sixth place, his best career finish at the 1.5-mile speedway.

"I definitely had my hands full today," said Reutimann. "Trent [Owens] and the Dollar General team worked hard during each of our stops and never gave up. We fought a loose condition most of the race, but there is no doubt that the car was fast! I want to thank Braun Racing and Dollar General for the opportunity to drive for them this year."

"Reutimann drove a great race tonight," said Owens. "He did an excellent job holding onto the car and getting a solid finish. I couldn't be more proud of this entire team. We ended up seventh in the owner's points. This is a young team and every year we keep getting better and better. I am really looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish next year!"

This weekend's race marked the 35th and final event for the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series season. Competition will resume on February 13 when the 2010 season opens at Daytona International Speedway.

-credit: br

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