CORNELIUS, N.C. (March 4, 2009) -- A ray of spotlight has found its way to David Reutimann this week, sparked by this past weekend's fourth-place NASCAR Sprint Cup finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Those bright lights highlight a man who has...
CORNELIUS, N.C. (March 4, 2009) -- A ray of spotlight has found its way to David Reutimann this week, sparked by this past weekend's fourth-place NASCAR Sprint Cup finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Those bright lights highlight a man who has found his sense of belonging. After years of grinding his teeth on the dirt tracks and bullrings sprinkled across the east coast, the quiet one is making some noise.
Entering his third year as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular, Reutimann has become one of the sport's most competitive and consistent performers. And most importantly to the third-generation racer, one of the most respected.
So, who is this David Reutimann that steers the No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota?
Most describe him as humble, laid back, mellow and not much of a self-promoter. He has a strong spiritual background and is a devoted husband and father. Dirt tracks were his playground as a kid, traveling everywhere to watch his idol and father, Buzzie Reutimann, race. All he ever wanted was to be successful in the family business -- racing.
But, inside Reutimann's sole is the burning desire to win, and to belong. And with the respect from his competitors, Reutimann is finally comfortable that he belongs competing as a contender for The Chase.
"I'm extremely competitive on the inside," Reutimann said. "You have to know me well to get to that side because I'm pretty laid back and mellow in most cases. If you didn't know me, you wouldn't think that I'm that competitive, but I think I'm more competitive than anybody.
"Another thing people may not know about me is that I have a strong sense of humor," Reutimann continued. "Growing up and even up to a couple years ago, I was very uncomfortable around large groups of people. I found that humor helped people to accept me and I found that it made it easier for me to be around people."
It is the driver of the Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota who is laughing now. Reutimann started raising eyebrows during the second half of last year, running competitively in several events. Then with all the eyes of NASCAR watching the final race leading to The Chase, Reutimann stole the show and led the most laps at Richmond International Raceway. And on the final weekend in Homestead-Miami, Reutimann caused a buzz when he scored his first pole position.
Continuing that momentum this year, Reutimann has posted finishes of 12th (Daytona International Speedway), 14th (Auto Club Speedway) and 4th (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) to go along with top 10 qualifying efforts the past two weeks.
Reutimann credits his Aaron's Dream Machine team for overcoming adversity for his success. Some of his crew members have been with him since the Truck Series days at Darrell Waltrip Motorsports dating back to 2004.
"My crew chief Rodney Childers is a big part of the picture, but I've got guys that have been with me since my Truck Series days," Reutimann said. "Actually, Dwayne Bigger was with me over at NEMCO when I got my chance to race in the Nationwide Series. Travis Stock and Nathan Kennedy have been with me since the beginning it seems like. Those guys work awful hard and it's not just them. The pit stops are really good and the guys back at the fab shop are doing a phenomenal job. Britt Caulder, who works in the fab shop, is another guy that was with me in the Truck Series and so was Jim Peterson. Also, I have a great car chief. Steve Channing and I were thrown together last year with a new crew chief and he's done a really good job. He's kind of quite like me, but he gets the job done and does an excellent job."
Reutimann has a lot of faith in his team to their continue momentum and ultimately vie for a win this season.
"I love my guys and I wouldn't trade one of my guys for anyone on pit road," Reutimann said. "That means I don't care what team they are with. I've got a lot of core guys that believe in me and are still with me. It's so good to go around and see those familiar faces. Right now, I've got the guys I need around me that I feel like I can win races. I'm very competitive and so are all of my guys."
As competitive as Reutimann is, there are times where he is humbled. Just like he has worked hard for the respect of his team members, he has done the same to earn the respect of his fellow competitors. He is the first to admit he makes mistakes. But, when he makes a mistake, he doesn't waste time trying to rectify the situation at hand.
"I wrecked Ryan Newman at Daytona (during the second Gatorade Duel qualifying race) and I still feel horrible about the mistake," Reutimann said. "I felt I lost respect in the eyes of my fellow competitors, which was something I worked hard at gaining. I found Ryan after it happened and told him that I was sorry. I know it didn't change anything or fix his wrecked car, but he needed to know from me in person what happened and how sorry I was."
"I couldn't find Tony (Stewart) so I sent him a text," Reutimann continued. "He's always been an exceptional guy to me. I've gone to him for advice multiple times and he's been one of the coolest guys in the garage area. I felt bad because he was the team owner and it was going to cost him money. Tony being Tony, he said no problem that he would send me an invoice for the car and to give him my address. I texted my home address to him. At that time if he would have sent me an invoice, I would have paid for it. Then he texted me back and I knew he was only kidding and that I needed to relax. He had a lot of nice things to say. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Ryan and Tony. It was important for me to let those guys know that day that I didn't wreck their car intentionally."