Category archive: David Reutimann

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The question for Kurt Busch was simple: Did little brother Kyle get what he deserved from David Reutimann on Sunday at Kansas Speedway?

The answer wasn't so simple.

The 2004 champion explained how he's been on both sides of the "non-Chase driver wrecking a Chase driver" issue. He recalled how in 2005, non-Chaser Scott Riggs wrecked him on the third lap of the Chase opener at New Hampshire, basically taking him out of contention to defend his title before he began.

His conclusion?

"Being in the Chase doesn't protect you from guys slamming into you," Kurt Busch said Thursday during a stop at NASCAR's Hall of Fame to promote next week's race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "The times I've been in run-ins, it's easier to try and discuss things and really get each person's perspective from it with a discussion.

"If there still is a conflict, have at it. Let's wreck some cars."

In other words, Reutimann could have talked things over with Kyle before deciding that an earlier incident between the two was just cause for retaliation.

"If the talk didn't go well, then maybe you come back and retaliate later on when the spotlight is not on you," Kurt continued. "If you get wrecked in that race, NASCAR is always looking for you to do something in that same race. I think Reutimann could have done a different job."

Kurt gave us something else to think about, too. He reminded us that when Riggs wrecked him in 2005, there was speculation that was payback for an incident between the two at Indianapolis.

Now consider what Kurt said about Riggs after that race. Remember? "There are guys you race with, there are guys you can't. He [Riggs] doesn't really know where he is most of the time."

Sounds kind of like what we heard in August when Kyle questioned Reutimann's talent after the Bristol race. That sparked a war of words and likely had Reutimann on a short rope when it came to tolerance of anything involving Kyle.

"It all comes down to we don't like each other very much," Reutimann said the ensuing week. "It's been [going on for] a while. We just don't like each other, and we agree that we don't like each other and we're fine with it. We're pretty honest about it. I'm good with it."

In other words, when Kyle saw Reutimann loose ahead of him at Kansas, he should have known better than to get close enough to make contact. And after there was contact, he should have expected Reutimann to take some action.

"The spotter should have told Kyle [that] Reutimann was coming, and if Kyle wanted to get out of the way, he could have yielded to him then," Kurt said.

But there's more to this story. Reutimann complained earlier in the week about having potentially good finishes this year ruined by other drivers who have run over him. He said "sometimes you just have to do things to make people see what was once deemed acceptable is no longer acceptable."

Said Kurt, "If he's continuously getting run over, then he's a common denominator."

"I ran over him at Richmond because [when] he drove into the corner I thought he was giving me the bottom lane. I drove in to make a pass, and first thing you know we're together.

"He's setting the tone 'You can't push me around.'"

So did Kyle get what he deserved?

"It's racers being racers," Kurt said. "It's not every day that cars are running into each other, so when guys are running into each other, it's good to talk about. It's good for our sport."

Kurt then looked over his shoulder at the row of famous cars on Glory Road, from the black No. 3 that was driven by Dale Earnhardt to the No. 11 once driven by Darrell Waltrip.

"Everybody in here on top of this row has had their run-ins with other drivers," Kurt said. "It's what makes our sport what it is today. The fierce rivalries, the competitiveness, the fire you have to be a champion and to be a winning driver -- you're going to have conflicts.

"That's part of our sport."

Told you it wasn't simple.

CONCORD, N.C. -- It was a tough call today. Sit outside of NASCAR's Research and Development Center and wait for the final appeal of Clint Bowyer's penalty at New Hampshire, or go to Martinsville and take laps around the half-mile track with David Reutimann.

Reutimann was the sexier story considering his run-in with Kyle Busch on Sunday at Kansas. It started the debate on whether a non-Chase driver has the right to pay back a Chase driver, something Reutimann addressed with reporters before taking them for a spin.

"Sometimes in life there comes a time when you've got to stand your ground and sometimes you have to do what, at the time, you know is not right and you look back and you may could have done things differently," Reutimann told reporters in Martinsville. "But in the end you sometimes have to stand up and do what's right by you.

"It's a slippery slope because if you're talking to a child, you're trying to project the right way to do things, you also have to explain that is not the way you want things to be done but sometimes you're backed into a corner and you don't' have a choice."

This was a huge topic of conversation as about half a dozen of us sat outside of the R&D Center for what I've dubbed "Survivor Concord: The Final Appeal." Greg Biffle even stopped by and shared his thoughts, ultimately saying he wouldn't put himself in the position Busch did by wrecking Reutimann earlier in the race.

For the record, I'm on the side that if payback is OK -- as NASCAR has allowed all season -- then it shouldn't matter whether you're in the Chase or not.

As you see from the dateline on this blog, I chose to go to Concord. I had to finish what was started last Wednesday when the National Stock Car Racing Commission ended a five-hour marathon by unanimously rejecting Richard Childress' appeal.

Today was much different. Instead of rain and cold, it was sunny and breezy. We also brought supplies such as chairs, power cords and food.

Childress' mood coming out of this appeal was just as different as the weather. A week ago he was angry, defiant, calling the process unfair. On Tuesday he was smiling, much more pleased with the way this process went.

He called it fair.

He is right. If NASCAR wants to end the bashing of its appeals process, then make the initial appeal more like Tuesday's before chief appellate officer John Middlebrook.

Allow both parties to have their say in front of each other. Allow them to cross-examine each other.

Put all the cards on the table.

That way more owners may leave that appeal like Childress left this one, believing they had been completely heard and feeling they had all the facts, not feeling like they were cheated.

"[If] today's procedure was done similar to that at the other appeal, we wouldn't be here today," Childress said.

And I wouldn't be sitting in a blue camping chair waiting to hear Middlebrook's final verdict. I would have been in Martinsville hearing Reutimann defend his right to take out Busch.

DOVER, Del. -- Let's straighten out a few issues from Dover International Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is ranked 21st in points and has had trouble finding his own pit box this season, told a reporter that David Reutimann, who is 16th in points and a contender to make the Chase until the final cutoff, needs to "polish up his craft."

Greg Biffle said it was an unfair advantage that Chase drivers -- he didn't mention names, but we should assume he's talking about Friday's pole-winner Jimmie Johnson and second-fastest Juan Pablo Montoya -- were allowed to participate in a tire test at Dover even though the test occurred a month before the 12-driver field was set.

Brian Vickers said the best way to make pit road safer is to get rid of it altogether, or maybe not race real cars at all, "just play video games."

OK, so Vickers' comment was tongue-in-cheek.

But it's been that kind of a crazy weekend so far at Dover, and it likely will get crazier before the second race of the Chase concludes Sunday afternoon.

Let's get Earnhardt and Reutimann out of the way first. Earnhardt obviously was upset that he had a car capable of at least a top-5 finish last weekend at New Hampshire before Reutimann lost control and sent him into the wall.

Reutimann admitted he made a mistake. He looked NASCAR's most popular driver in the eye and said he was sorry.

But Earnhardt still criticized him after the race and did so again at Dover. Just a guess, but this has to do more with frustration from a disappointing season for Earnhardt than Reutimann, or one wreck.

"He definitely hasn't had the kind of season I'm sure he would like," Reutimann said Saturday. "A lot of us haven't. He obviously had a very good racecar. When you get taken out, that's not going to sit very well with you.

"I can't blame him, but I've been hand-whipped pretty hard this week. … You can only talk about somebody for so long before you get tired of it. That's kind of the point I'm at right now."

For the record, Reutimann didn't comment on how many times Earnhardt has missed his pit stall this season. He also didn't note that he qualified fifth this weekend and his chief critic will start 24th.

Now for the tires. The new compound Goodyear brought to the "Monster Mile" has some drivers and crew chiefs scratching their heads for the right setup.

Denny Hamlin, whose teammate Kyle Busch was one of eight drivers who participated in the earlier tire test, called the tires "just crap, really" and insisted that cars will slide all over the place.

"From what I hear they didn't bring back the tire that everyone liked," he said. "Same as Atlanta. They keep increasing the stagger in the tires, and it just keeps making guys loose in and loose off [the turns].

"They won't listen to us drivers, so I don't know why we even tire test these tracks anymore."

Apparently, Goodyear listened to Johnson, who suggested the tire manufacturer bring a combination that would put more mechanical grip in the car and let teams "back off some of the crazy setups we are running and tighten these cars up."

But if testing is such a big advantage, how do you explain the fact that Johnson wasn't one of what he called the "75,000 cars" that tested at Indianapolis and won the race?

"There is no doubt there is an advantage to it, but we overcame that at Indy and didn't have a chance to test there," he said.

In other words, everybody stop complaining.

Biffle should have more pressing worries. Although he qualified fourth, his four Roush Fenway Racing teammates qualified 21st or worse, and Bobby Labonte, using Roush Fenway equipment, was slower than only two cars.

What's alarming about that is the No. 71 Labonte drove last week at New Hampshire qualified 18th with David Gilliland.

"That constitutes how poorly we're doing [our] job [as well as] that Yates organization across the street," Biffle said. "We all have the same equipment and we're just not getting it done."

At least Biffle finally explained why the Roush cars are struggling. Apparently, it's all about corner speed.

"Let me explain that," he said. "There's two ways of getting a car to turn around the corner. One is the car turns with the front tires when you turn the steering wheel, it turns with the front tires, and it turns around the center of the corner … you can push the gas down and off you go.

"The second way is if the front tires don't turn, they slide up the race track -- you cannot get them to turn. The only thing you could do is loosen the car up, take wedge out, do whatever you could do to try and get the back of the car loose enough to where you go around the corner with the back of the car turning. So the back of the car is sliding around the corner, almost, if you will, like a forklift."

And a forklift, he says, turns with the back tires and not the front. He says drivers have run faster on seven cylinders than the Roush cars because their corner speed is faster.

That's crazy.

And then there was real crazy, when Vickers was asked if crew members deliberately run out in front of other cars to slow them down on pit road.

"I can assure you that I'm trying to avoid people on pit road because I don't want to hurt anybody," he said.

Well, that's good to know.

That's when Vickers went from making pit roads wider to eliminating them to playing video games. Johnson, who was next in line for his weekend press appearance, seemed a bit surprised by the whole exchange.

"Everybody clear on the whole pit road deal Brian was talking about … playing video games instead of driving?" he asked as he left the media center.

Yep, we've got it all straight.