Memphis: Round 14 preview

* 2004 Raybestos Rookie Reutimann and Waltrip team racing to potential * Setzer gunning for fourth win in five starts at Memphis Motorsports Park DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 18, 2005) -- NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points leader Dennis Setzer...

* 2004 Raybestos Rookie Reutimann and Waltrip team racing to potential

* Setzer gunning for fourth win in five starts at Memphis Motorsports Park

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 18, 2005) -- NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points leader Dennis Setzer (No. 46 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet), looking for his fourth victory in five starts, isn't the only competitor on a roll heading into Saturday's O'Reilly 200 presented by Valvoline at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Setzer, the race's 2001 winner, is hot.

But so is sophomore competitor David Reutimann (No. 17 NTN Bearings Toyota), who hopes to become the .75-mile paved oval's eighth consecutive different winner.

Reutimann hasn't gone to Victory Lane -- yet. But his performance over the past two months has been a summer sizzler: He's led five races and finished among the top 10 five times, including back-to-back third-place efforts at Kansas and Kentucky speedways.

In the process, the 2004 Raybestos Rookie of the Year has climbed the standings ladder from 18th in mid-May to a current ranking of ninth.

Reutimann feels his Darrell Waltrip-owned team finally is racing up to its potential.

"We are running like we are supposed to now," said the 35-year-old Florida native, who finished 17th a year ago in Memphis. "We've always been capable. I feel like it's all coming together and you can't ask for anything more than that."

You can almost hear Reutimann's sigh of relief. He won rookie laurels by a near 70-point margin but limped to the wire with four finishes of 21st or worse in the last five races of 2004.

"We started off strong out of the box then we faltered," said Reutimann. "Between me not having any experience and not giving the right feedback when the team needed it, we just weren't consistent. This year, everything's falling into place."

Memphis would seem to be a good spot for Reutimann and crew chief Jason Overstreet to break through. In 2003, Reutimann qualified in relief of Greg Biffle and put the defending NASCAR Busch Series champion's car on the Bud Pole.

And that led to his employment with Waltrip.

"Getting the pole gave me a chance to say on national television I was basically looking for a ride," he said. "It was a couple of days after that I got the call from Darrell."

Reutimann would just as soon forget last year's O'Reilly 200, a race of extremes. He raced from 30th into the top 10, went to the rear after a pit road penalty for a missing lug nut and drove back to the front before involvement in a late-race incident with another truck.

"Things just didn't go our way," said Reutimann, perhaps summarizing the latter part of 2004 and this year's early campaign. "Maybe our luck has changed and we can do better."

***

Setzer -- and the rest of this week's field -- are pleased that NASCAR and track officials have moved the O'Reilly 200 into the evening hours. Previous races had been held in the afternoon with air temperatures frequently well above 90 degrees.

The current points leader believes that should produce better competition.

"That should give the track more grip and make it faster, as well," said Setzer, adding, "Memphis is a tough place to get the chassis just right. The track has a similar layout to Richmond but not as much grip."

Setzer, with victories at Michigan, Milwaukee and Kentucky, can become the first series driver since 1999 to win four times in five starts. Biffle was the last to win four of five -- at Indianapolis, St. Louis, Richmond and Las Vegas.

Setzer, with six straight finishes of fifth or better at Memphis, will have a teammate this week. Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Aric Almirola of Tampa, Fla. makes his series debut in the No. 47 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet. Bobby Labonte won April's Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway with the Randy Goss-led team.

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Labonte , Dennis Setzer , David Reutimann , Aric Almirola
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing