Reutimann enjoying best week of Cup career

Updated: May 30, 2009, 3:56 PM ET
Associated Press

DOVER, Del. -- David Reutimann took a trip to Victory Lane, and followed that up with a pole.

The journeyman driver has been on one heck of a journey already this season, and it's not finished yet.

Reutimann believes he can get the No. 00 Toyota into the 12-car field for the Chase for the championship. The 39-year-old Michael Waltrip Racing driver is within six points of Mark Martin for 12th place and the last spot in the Chase. That's not a lot of points to make up over the next three months before the field is set for the 10-race finish.

Reutimann thinks his team has what it takes to grab a coveted spot in the Chase.

"Absolutely, I do," Reutimann said on Saturday at Dover International Speedway. "If we can do the things we need to do on a weekly basis, we should be able to get there."

If he keeps driving like he has the last two races, Reutimann would surely get there. He won a rain-shortened race Monday at Lowe's Motor Speedway for his first Spring Cup victory and then nabbed his second pole of the season for Sunday's race at Dover.

"It's been a pretty cool week," he said.

He's provided a dose of credibility to the maligned MWR team and has done it pushing 40 and in only his third full Cup season.

"I'm just grateful to have any opportunity at all," Reutimann said. "Everybody told me the odds of getting to Cup racing were basically none. The odds of getting me into the trucks series were about as low, so why start paying any attention to that?"

Reutimann knows a late start to his Cup career means little once he hits the track.

"I'm not 18 years old, but I'm not 50, so I feel like I've got a lot of good years left in me," he said.

Reutimann has made other teams take notice at the track. He has three top-10 finishes this year, and used a smart call by crew chief Rodney Childers to stay on the track with the rain coming and win for the first time in 75 starts. The MWR Web site has a picture of a soaked and smiling Reutimann raising a "No. 1" finger next to the trophy.

Winning a shortened race wasn't exactly how he envisioned celebrating that monumental win, but he'll take it.

"We just finally got our feet up underneath us," he said. "We were just so far behind for so long. Now we've finally got things going in the direction. When you unload with a better car, you have a better opportunity to run well and that's what we've had."


INDY'S KING: Richard Petty might be looking at a repeat trip to the Indianapolis 500.

NASCAR's "King" fielded an Indy 500 entry for the first time in his prolific career when he put John Andretti behind the wheel last Sunday. Petty enjoyed the pageantry of race day, but couldn't stick around for the finish because of his NASCAR obligations. About an hour after the green flag dropped at Indy, Petty hopped a plane to Charlotte, N.C., for the Coca-Cola 600. Andretti finished 19th and the NASCAR race was rained out.

Petty enjoyed his day so much at the IRL spectacle, that he would consider another run next season.

"I told John that being that we ran pretty good up there, maybe we can get him in a couple of other races and get him practiced-up so when we get back to Indy he can do a better job," Petty said on Saturday.

Petty compared the prestige of winning the Indianapolis 500 with taking the checkered flag at NASCAR's Daytona 500.

"They've got to win Indy because that carries you all year long," he said.

Petty said the IRL's Danica Patrick, whose contract expires after this season, might be a fit in stock cars.

"It would be very questionable, but who knows?" he said. "It's a completely different form of racing, different kind of racing. Some people make conversions a lot better than others and she might be 'the one' that makes the conversion with no problem."


MONSTER MAKEOVER: Dover now has a pit stall for every driver.

The pit road renovations at Dover International Speedway are complete and the track added that sorely needed 43rd stall. There was always an unusual predicament at Dover because two drivers had to share one spot.

Whichever driver was ahead on the racetrack received pitting priority. Not anymore.

"It's definitely something I never understood, how you could come to a facility like this and have some teams have to share a pit stall," pole sitter David Reutimann said. "I think they did the right thing by stretching it out."

The track bolted a SAFER barrier into place earlier this month to complete the renovation of a new pit wall. The new pit wall is 432 feet longer than the previous steel wall.

With the additional length of the pit wall, track officials were able to reconfigure the pit stalls and stretch each one from 28 feet to 32 feet long, allowing more room for cars to enter and exit.

Dover is in the midst of a five-year improvement project on the track known as the "Monster Mile."

"It's a great job and we needed it," Jimmie Johnson said. "It's going to elevate the safety on many levels."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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