David Reininger - motorsport.com Robbie Buhl pulled his Purex Dreyer and Reinbold Indy racer into victory lane at Orlando last January supported by a team that was only 30 days old. Thirty days old to Dreyer and Reinbold that is. At the core...
David Reininger - motorsport.com
Robbie Buhl pulled his Purex Dreyer and Reinbold Indy racer into victory lane at Orlando last January supported by a team that was only 30 days old. Thirty days old to Dreyer and Reinbold that is. At the core of the Dreyer and Reinbold team was Mitch Davis. Davis and his crew first started in the Northern Light Series at Team Cheever. They moved to ISM the following year and in 1999 they moved to Pagan Racing. In 2000, the experienced crew settled at Dreyer and Reinbold with driver Robbie Buhl.
When the crew hastily reassembled at Dreyer and Reinbold (two went to PacWest and one to Kenny Wallace's Winston cup team for 2000) to field the Purex car, they quickly found the winning combination. Remember, this was the same team that was assembled at Pagan Racing in 1999, taking Jeff Ward to a second place at Phoenix three weeks after coming together.
The team opened the season with three consecutive top-ten finishes. The Purex team went to the fourth race of the season, the Indianapolis 500, with championship aspirations.
"Winning that race set high expectations for the rest of the year," said Buhl regarding his victory in the season opener. "All in all, we had a good year last year. We were competitive all year. Unfortunately, when you have a nine race schedule and you don't finish four of the races due to mechanical problems, it takes you out of the running."
The team showed promise at Pikes Peak, leading 61 laps, but they would only score one more top-ten finish before the season was over, a sixth at Atlanta. "We had a car capable of winning at Colorado last year and unfortunately, due to motor problems, we didn't finish. And then we had a great car at the last race at Texas and we broke while leading that race."
"Where I was most disappointed was just what it did in the point standings," said Buhl. "Being a new team I think we had a great shot at a top-three, if not, a top-five. With just those mechanical (problems) it dropped us back to eighth. I don't think that's really a good reflection of how competitive this team is."
Mitch Davis left Dreyer and Reinbold to finish the season with Menard, but the team quickly organized themselves to minimize the loss of their longtime leader. Jim Robinson, who has done everything from build Pikes Peak hillclimb racers to construct CART's trackside medical center, stepped up as general manager of Breyer and Reinbold
Buhl, who likes the idea of having a small, focused team, will start the 2001 season with most of the same crew from last year. "We don't want to be a big team. We feel our strength in competing against Kelley and Menard, which are much bigger operations, is a small, hardcore, strong nucleus of guys. Jim Robinson has taken the role of general manager and he's done a great job. John O'Gara is a big part of the team. He was with us all last year, he's the crew chief on the car. And all the support staff are all still there."
"We've hired Paul Burgess with G Force to be our engineer this year. I think that's a really good asset to the team. He's very involved with the design of the car. He's going to work fulltime for our team during race weekends and tests."
But the team is still behind on testing for 2001 as they await their new engine from Infiniti. "They were working on this motor throughout last year," Buhl said. "We thought we would see that motor and possibly run it towards the end of last year. But due to complications, and in terms of things they were finding out about the motor, they had to redesign some things. In all the whole process, everything is delayed. Hopefully, by the end of February, we'll see that new 35A (Infiniti) motor."
"As last year finished up, I was really excited going into this year. We were already placing ourselves with Purex as our title sponsor, all the guys were in place, all we were looking at doing was making Dreyer and Reinbold a better team. And that has happened. Unfortunately we haven't been out logging miles. To say that that isn't frustrating would be wrong because it is frustrating. That's the reality of it and we have to make that work us the best we can at this point."
Despite the frustration of not being able to run the new engine, Buhl is optimistic regarding the 2001 season, stating, "our focus is winning the championship and winning races, no two ways about that."