Crunching numbers from the Coca-Cola 600

May, 27, 2009
05/27/09
9:54
AM ET

Call me the eternal optimist, the glass-half-full kind of guy, but in the long run, I'm going to focus more that David Reutimann got in the winner's circle for the first time for Michael Waltrip Racing more than the fact the race was the fun combination of rain shortened and rain delayed.

But I would be remiss if I didn't at least address some of the issues. At least allow me a moment to pretend xxxx

NASCAR Nation turns its eyes to me, in their moment of need!

This week, NASCAR team owners and drivers gathered for an open forum of sorts, and addressed some issues, so allow me to open the means of communication and answer a few questions.

1) What should NASCAR do about rain delays?

Two words, but they're kind of connected. ShamWow. Huge marketing opportunity. Just roll a big ShamWow over the track, and that sucker is dry and ready to race.

2) Should NASCAR have double-file restarts on every restart?

No, not every restart. Why don't we just have them on restarts with 20 laps to go, or in the last 10 percent of the race? Let's give these guys some time to race their way back on the lead lap before an all-out fight for the win.

3) How I can remove rodents from my NASCAR race?

Just channel your inner Carl Spackler.

Square Reut

I was all set with this note to go on this week's blog, but then it was repeated on air as NASCAR waited out the rain, to no avail. But in case you missed it.

David Reutimann is now the sixth driver to get his first career Cup Series win in the 600. Four of the first five went on to become series champions later in their careers, David Pearson, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Matt Kenseth. The fifth was Casey Mears, who is still looking for his second win.

A couple other neat notes on Reutimann. He's the first driver to win in a car with the number 00. It's also the first win for MWR, in fact, the first Toyota win in the series that wasn't for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Trivia break: What are the two other teams got their first wins in the 600-mile race at Charlotte?

High and Lowe's

I hope you weren't too surprised to see who the four fastest cars on the track were Monday.

Kyle Busch, Brian Vickers, Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson had the fastest cars on the track most often in the 600, and by the 600, I mean the 340.5. In the four previous years, spanning eight races, those were also the four quickest cars on the track, but almost in the reverse order.

Most Fastest Laps Run
Ranks at Charlotte Since 2005
Driver -- 2005-08 -- Monday
Jimmie Johnson -- 1st -- 4th
Kasey Kahne -- 2nd -- 3rd
Kyle Busch -- 3rd -- 1st
Brian Vickers -- 4th -- 2nd

More on Vickers, who could've also won the first Toyota race for a team other than JGR. He had the fastest car late in runs and certainly would've benefitted the deeper the race went. He was also passed only nine times under green. The next fewest? Kasey Kahne, who was passed 24 times.

Trivia break: Who is the only driver to win a Cup Series race with the car number 83?

Awesome Bill

I just couldn't let myself finish a blog without mentioning that this was Bill Elliott's 800th career Cup Series start, making him just the seventh driver to reach that mark.

He finished 15th in the race, the second-best finish of any of those seven drivers in their 800th start.

Finishes in 800th start NASCAR Cup Series history
Driver -- Finish -- Track
Richard Petty -- 4th -- Michigan
Bill Elliott -- 15th -- Charlotte
Terry Labonte -- 16th -- New Hampshire
Dave Marcis -- 26th -- Michigan
Ricky Rudd -- 31st -- Atlanta
Kyle Petty -- 32nd -- Indianapolis
Darrell Waltrip -- 42nd -- Darlington

Trivia break: Richard Petty leads all drivers with 1,185 starts. Who is second with 906?

Trivia Break answers
1) I'll be impressed if you got this one. The teams were Paul McDuffie Racing (1960) and Rahmoc (1983).
2) Lake Speed got his first and only win in the 83 at Darlington in 1983.
3) Ricky Rudd made 906 starts in his Sprint Cup Series career.

Matt Willis has been a studio researcher at ESPN since 2006, working on "NASCAR Now" and "SportsCenter," among other shows. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2006 with a degree in journalism. While there, he worked on ICTV, on shows such as "Ya Think You Know Sports?" and "Sports Final." He also was a member of the IC Comedy Club and figures about half of the jokes he makes in his column are actually funny.

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