The Final Word – Newman gets handed a win, Reutimann gets tossed under the bus at Martinsville

[media-credit name=”Brad Keppel” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]Martinsville might have started a wee bit boring, got real interesting in the second half, then went plain nuts at the end. Jeff Gordon, the star on this day, was leading, trying to fend off team-mate Jimmie Johnson for the win with three laps remaining, while Dale Earnhardt Jr was sitting third. Rick Hendrick was about to celebrate his 200th Cup victory as an owner when David Reutimann happened.

With his car laps down and running about as fast as one of those motorized wheelchairs, Reutimann ignored the pit entrance not once but twice before getting black flagged. That is when he parked the car on the track, brought out the caution, and forced a green-white-checker finish. Everybody pitted, except for Gordon and Johnson, the two leaders could not get going with their old tires, and they got spun out of the way to bring out a final yellow flag. This time, Ryan Newman duelled A.J. Allmendinger for the win, Junior retained third, Gordon 14th, and Johnson finished 12th.

So, what in hell was going on in the head of Reutimann? Well, when the car all but died, he tried to pad an extra lap or two to try for the points needed to keep the car in the Top 35 in points, to ensure its participation in the next race. Remember, this is the car Danica Patrick is scheduled to drive for ten events this season, and they want her in the races without having to be a go or go home entry. It was laps down and had been ailing for some time, including the development of some engine issues. When Reutimann got black flagged, the car died, refused to refire, which brought out the caution that changed everything.

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The official line was that Reutimann limped around to try to gain an extra lap or two so they might stay in the Top 35. The trouble is they had no chance of making up the one point they currently trail the #83 driven by Landon Cassill, which wound up more than 70 laps up on them. The same goes for the #33 Hermie Sadler was driving, which wound up 69 laps ahead and five points better in 34th place in owner’s points. So, they not only stayed out for no reason at all, they want us to believe Reutimann did the calculation in his own head, and on his own decided to stay out there. Really?

Usually when the driver does something that appears so stupid it means one of two things. First, the guy is either a total idiot or just a jerk who wanted to screw somebody real bad. Personally, I have never heard of anyone accusing Reutimann of being such a driver or a man. Second, the one I would be betting on, is that the driver got orders to stay out from someone who simply has the math skills of a three year old. When it came time to face the music before the FOX and SPEED cameras, there by his lonesome was David Reutimann. He did not say he was ordered to do anything, he did not throw anyone under the bus, he just took the responsibility that I doubt was really his. He took it like a man, but I am wondering just where in hell owner and crew chief Tommy Baldwin was when it came time to man up?

We all know somebody did something mighty stupid last Sunday. What we don’t know for sure is exactly who that person was.  If nothing else, it will give us something to talk about before they head to Texas. Enjoy the next couple of weeks.

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  1. Case is now closed. Bowyer was stupid for trying to make it 3 wide when he knew he would wreck the field. Newman knew the same thing when he crashed 15 in the A–. Newman won. Newman can be proud but the clock he won ticks in stupidity.

  2. Having watched him since he took over that dreadful UPS car from Jarrett, I can say I have never seen Reutimann ever do anything to hurt his competitors or draw criticism to himself, his team or NASCAR. Quite the opposite! There were times when he “owed” more than a payback or two to certain drivers (Newman being one) and he never gave into the temptation. Even after being unceremoniously dumped from his ride by MWR, he remained a class act. He deserves a ride better than he has…and more deservingly so than some of his peers in those better rides. It was simple math and had he been able to maintain minimum speed, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Blame the top 35 rule…blame TBR…blame SHR…blame the junk he is being asked to keep in the top 35, but don’t blame the man behind the wheel. Rueitimann deserves more respect than that.

  3. There is no one to blame in this instance other than NASCAR itself. The top 35 rule, the savior princess promotion and protection of Danica, the point swapping and/or selling that NASCAR allowed, are where every bit of the blame rests, period! Sadly NASCAR is heading for an implosion of it’s own creation.

  4. Will somebody PLEASE figure it out if the 10 car COULD have gained the point? If not, then the whole team are the idiots that Jr. said.

  5. I’m sorry, but you have your math all wrong. The final results of the race show that David R. was 4 laps short of passing Dave Blaney, his teammate, who was in the garage with “brake issues”. Had David R. finished the race with no black flag, he would have passed Dave B. and picked up, oh look at that, 1 extra position, which is, say it with me now, 1 point. Which would have put him as tied for the 35th spot. Something even a three year old can understand.

  6. Sometimes smart people do dumb things …instead of trying to figure who did what and why…sometimes it’s better to let it go. I will say Ruety took a fairly boring race and turned it into something worth watching…so for that, I give him a thumbs up!!

  7. Ron – Here is exactly what happened. I am very familiar with TBR and have followed them closely for over a year now, including a stint on their pit box last year for 1 race. This is a decent, underfunded team whose sole purpose is to stay in the Top 35, with occassional “all eggs in the basket” efforts at tracks like Richmond and the plate tracks. Martinsville is not one of their better tracks.
    With about 35 laps to go at Martinsville, Reutimann was approx. 60 laps down and his teammate Blaney was approx. 30+ laps down. If you go back and review the race, you will see at that point Blaney pulling off the track into the pits, where he parked the car. The idea was to get Reutimann to finish ahead of Blaney, thus gaining one extra point. Blaney is safely in the Top 35 and losing one point is no big deal for the #36 team. Well, that strategy would have worked until Rudy’s car broke with about 5 or 6 laps to go and he attempted to limp around the track to finish the race. As we all know, that did not work out well. As it is, Rudy finished 3 laps behind Blaney. That 1 extra point if he would have finished ahead of Blaney would have put him in a tie for 35th.

    Team orders to Rudy to stay out and try and finish the race ? You bet ! Team orders to Blaney to park with some 30 laps to go ? You bet !

    They have a contract with Stewart-Hass racing to keep that #10 in the Top 35, that is why the desperation to try and finish those last laps. TBR operates on a just barely budget……..and it does not surprise me that parts and an engine broke Sunday. They probably have enough money in the budget to oufit 1 car with good stuff, but not both cars. Like I said earlier, the good stuff is saved for their better tracks.

    Perhaps Tony and Co. need to ante up a bit with the funds and buy some better parts, engines, and such if S-H Racing wants to guarantee Danica a start at Darlington. I like the girl, but she is in for a rude awakening come Mother’s Day weekend. That track has bit the best in the business !


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