REUTIMANN SCORES FIRST TOP-FIVE FINISH OF THE NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES SEASON AT CALIFORNIA FONTANA, Calif. (February 24, 2006) - David Reutimann finished fourth in his No. 17 Team Tundra Racing Toyota after starting from pole position at...
REUTIMANN SCORES FIRST TOP-FIVE FINISH OF THE NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES SEASON AT CALIFORNIA
FONTANA, Calif. (February 24, 2006) - David Reutimann finished fourth in his No. 17 Team Tundra Racing Toyota after starting from pole position at California Speedway Friday evening.
"We led a couple laps at the start, but then when the new wore off of the tires we were bad loose," said Reutimann. "We had to move up and let those guys go. We made adjustments, but we were still way to free on exit. All night long we fought it. We got it a little better, but we just could never overcome it."
After leading three laps at the start of the 106-lap event, Reutimann dropped outside the top-five the next couple of laps due to loose handling conditions. As the caution flag waived at Lap 18, Reutimann prepared to make his first of two pit stops of the night while running in seventh-place.
"The guys did a great job on that stop," said Reutimann. "I've got one of the best pit crews out here. We were the fourth truck to leave pit road. There were a couple guys that stayed out, so we restarted sixth."
After another caution occurred, Reutimann restarted fourth on Lap 26 in line behind leader Jack Sprague, Mark Martin and Brad Keselowski. Reutimann overtook third-place during the same lap and held onto the position for a couple more laps. Reutimann then settled into fourth-place.
"We had some opportunities to move up, but we could never capitalize because we were still loose," said Reutimann.
The majority of the field pitted as the fourth caution of the night happened nearly halfway. As the third-place driver (Mike Bliss) pitted as well, Reutimann moved into third for the restart at Lap 48. Reutimann followed Mark Martin and Jack Sprague to the start-finish line with Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Erik Darnell in tow. Reutimann maintained third until his final pit stop of the evening as he entered pit road at Lap 59 under caution.
"Because we were loose center out at that point, the guys made a wedge adjustment and put on four tires," said Reutimann. "It got better, but not as good as were we needed it to be."
Reutimann restarted 12th at Lap 63, but quickly reentered the top-five seven laps later. On another restart at Lap 76, Reutimann was fourth. Reutimann retook third-place five laps later.
"We tried to hold onto third-place and move forward," said Reutimann. "Ted (Musgrave) got around us just inside 20 laps to go and it put us back to fourth. We were loose center off all night long. If you are going to outrun those guys up there, you can't be off any. That's how the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is. If you are off a little bit, you are not going to win."
Faced with a green-white-checkered scenario for the second time this season, Reutimann went on to score his best finish at California in three starts at the two-mile D-shaped oval. The fourth-place finish was Reutimann's 11th career top-five finish.
"We're getting better and we are sneaking up on them," said Reutimann, who was one of four Toyota Tundra drivers to finish in the top-five at California Friday night. "We've still got a little work to do. We've got some weeks off before our next race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In 2004, I got my first and Toyota's first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Bud Pole Award there and we went on to finish third in that race. It was only my second start in the series. If we can stay out of trouble, I feel confident we can do well there again."