Bristol: Reutimann - NASCAR spotlight

Timing right for Reutimann, Waltrip and Toyota to win in Nashville DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 15, 2005) -- Cliche perhaps, but for David Reutimann (No. 17 NTN Bearings Toyota), timing was everything. Reutimann, winner of the Toyota Tundra 200...

Timing right for Reutimann, Waltrip and Toyota to win in Nashville

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 15, 2005) -- Cliche perhaps, but for David Reutimann (No. 17 NTN Bearings Toyota), timing was everything.

Reutimann, winner of the Toyota Tundra 200 this past Saturday night, couldn't have picked a better place than Nashville Superspeedway to score his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory.

It sure didn't hurt that 8,000 Toyota employees were on hand to cheer on the 35-year-old Florida native. And it was even more fortuitous that team owner Darrell Waltrip was the event's Grand Marshal.

Reutimann's victory was Waltrip's fourth in the series as an owner but first since 1997.

Maybe this one was even sweeter than the last with Rich Bickle (No. 07 Cheyenne/VFW Chevrolet) at Martinsville, Va.

Reutimann received the traditional trophy Gibson guitar in Victory Circle and promises from Waltrip of another prize.

"I told him if he wins a race this year I'd get him a Rolex," said Waltrip, the three-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion and FOX NASCAR analyst. "I was just going to get him a cheap one but since he won here in Nashville, I'm going to get him a nice one."

Reutimann agreed there couldn't have been a better place to make his breakthrough.

"The timing was right and it being Toyota's race, you couldn't ask for more," he said. "I'm not going to ask for anything more.

"This is by far the biggest thing that has ever happened to me in my life -- other than getting called at home by Darrell Waltrip one night and being asked to drive his truck."

It's been a long and frustrating 41-race journey to a NASCAR Craftsman Truck win for the Zephyrhills, Fla. competitor, the 2004 Raybestos Rookie of the Year. Reutimann won a pair of Bud Poles last season but wasn't at all pleased with a 14th-place championship finish.

The team's sophomore season couldn't have gotten off to a worse start: With no finish better than 12th in the first seven races, Reutimann dropped all the way to 18th in the points chase.

Waltrip and crew chief Jason Overstreet, however, counseled patience. And sure enough they've turned the season around.

And how.

Reutimann went to Nashville counting three of his previous four finishes among the top three including a career-best, runner-up performance at Memphis Motorsports Park. He has moved all the way to fifth in championship rankings, just 108 points out of second.

"It was no big secret that the first part of the year was a disaster for us," said Reutimann. "To be able to turn things around in the fashion that we have has been incredible. It's such a great feeling."

Reutimann and his team aren't about to rest on their recent laurels. Despite trailing championship leader Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Z71 Silverado Chevrolet) by 286 points, Reutimann isn't going to give up battling for the title over the season's final nine events.

"We've got a long way to go and we've got a lot of races left," he said. "We need to keep focusing on the things we've been doing which is racing our races and not worrying about anybody else."

Right now, everybody else probably is worried about David Reutimann.

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Rich Bickle , Darrell Waltrip , Dennis Setzer , David Reutimann