The Frontstretch: 2012 NASCAR Driver Review: David Reutimann by Mike Neff -- Monday January 7, 2013

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2012 NASCAR Driver Review: David Reutimann

Mike Neff · Monday January 7, 2013


2012 Rides: No. 10 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet (21 races)
No. 93 BK Racing Toyota (2 races)
No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet (1 race)
No. 44 Xxxtreme Motorsports Ford (1 race)
No. 73 BK Racing Toyota (1 race – DNQ)

2012 Primary Sponsors: No. 10 Car – TMone, Accell Construction, Melling Engine Parts, TradeBank, several smaller businesses with additional Stewart-Haas monetary support (for carrying Danica Patrick’s number)

David Reutimann

No. 51 Car – Phoenix Construction
Nos. 73/93 Cars – Burger King
No. 44 Car – No Label Watches

2012 Owners: No. 10 Car – Tommy Baldwin
No. 51 Car – James Finch
Nos. 73/93 Cars – Ron Devine & Wayne Press
No. 44 Car – Johnathan Cohen

2012 Crew Chiefs: No. 10 Car – Tommy Baldwin, Jr. / Steve Wood
No. 51 Car – Nick Harrison
No. 93 Car – Todd Anderson
No. 73 Car – Buddy Sisco
No. 44 Car – Frank Kerr

Stats: 25 starts, 0 wins, 0 top 5s, 0 top 10s, 0 poles, eight DNFs, one DNQ, 34th in points.
Best Finish: 11th – Coke Zero 400 (Daytona).
Average Finish: 29.1.

2012 Team Ranking: 1st of 2 for his primary ride (Tommy Baldwin Racing). Reutimann, who ran a partial schedule due to Danica Patrick sharing his car number didn’t run as many races as Dave Blaney. But his average start and average finish for the season were slightly better overall, which gives him the nod for this underdog organization who barely has the funding to run full events.

High Point: Daytona, July. Reutimann didn’t lead a lap all season and only finished on the lead lap twice in the 25 races that he started. With that said, the fact that he came home in 11th, at Daytona probably speaks as much about plate racing in general as it does about Reutimann the driver. That run was his lone finish higher than 21st all season.

Low Point: The situation that Reutimann found himself in with Tommy Baldwin Racing. TBR had an agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing, running the No. 10 to keep it in the top 35 in owner points so that Danica Patrick was assured of starting spots when she made her ten starts throughout 2012. It was a tough transition for this Cup Series winner, now a glorified substitute after years of being paired with the funding and equipment capable of running up front. Hosed out of a ride at Michael Waltrip Racing, after a disappointing 2011 with a former sponsor (Aaron’s) seemingly infatuated with a big name (Mark Martin), he had no choice but to take what he could to keep himself in front of potential owners for 2013.

However, the push to keep bad equipment on track, at all costs in order to preserve that top 35 spot had its downside. At Martinsville, in the Spring Reutimann kept his car on-track, late in the event when it was many laps down, struggling simply to meet minimum speed. Eventually breaking a timing belt, he slid to a stop which drew a caution flag and caused the green-white-checkered, bumper cars restart that potentially cost Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports their 200th victory. Widely criticized for the move, Reutimann denied he was following team orders, ones that would have essentially caused an unnecessary yellow but his reputation inside the garage took a hit.

Summary: David Reutimann won the only races in the history of MWR before this season but found himself looking for a ride after 2011. Without any top-tier opportunities, TBR became a necessity; his “new team” was a result of the SHR deal, a partnership that allowed for enough funding to run full events. Reutimann was forced to drive conservatively, though to ensure his ride stayed inside the top 35 in owner points, providing Ms. Patrick with the security blanket needed for her qualifying runs. He did an honorable job, racking up over $2 million in winnings but never led a single lap and was virtually invisible all year.

There were also some part-time opportunities that came up; unfortunately, those “job interviews” never led to more than a few spot starts. The No. 51 Phoenix Racing car became a one-race fill-in when driver Kurt Busch got suspended, at Pocono in June. However, owner James Finch was not impressed enough with a 21st-place result and ultimately chose to mend fences with Busch. BK Racing, fully funded was also supposed to run Reutimann in races where Patrick took over the “No. 10.” But Reutimann, struggled, failing to qualify for the Coke 600 in a third car and remaining uncompetitive in spot starts. The team ultimately chose to break contract and partner with Travis Kvapil to pair with Landon Cassill the rest of the year.

Off-Track News: While Reutimann didn’t lead any races in the Cup Series this season, he did win some on dirt, driving self-owned equipment on local tracks where he built his reputation as a national talent. David also still works as a mechanic, building race-winning cars for his legendary racing father Buzzie.

2013 Outlook: At this point, Reutimann’s plans for 2013 are undecided. TBR is rumored to be running a second team besides the No. 36, although the number has not been announced since the No. 10 will be campaigned full-time by SHR with Danica Patrick. Other possibilities involve a new single-car operation run by Johnathan Cohen, which Reutimann start-and-parked towards the end of 2012 and a second team at JTG-Daugherty Racing, paired with Bobby Labonte if funding can be secured.

None of those, unfortunately are ideal for one of the sport’s more underrated talents. Reutimann’s talent is unquestioned; that’s evidenced by his win in MWR equipment, at Chicago before the organization turned the corner in 2012. His problem is he is perceived as unmarketable, a combination of age (42) and an endearing but, at times socially awkward personality in front of the cameras. So unless some sponsor, along with a middle class car owner is convinced to take a chance, expect him to find it difficult to get the right opportunities with competitive rides in Cup — in 2013 or perhaps ever again.

2011 Grade: C-.
2012 Grade: C. Reutimann’s hands were tied for the majority of the year, trying to keep the No. 10 in the top 35 in points so that Danica Patrick would have guaranteed starting spots. The result was an effort that generally left him finishing just ahead of the start and park cars on a weekly basis. The fact that he had a better average finish than his teammate Dave Blaney is the reason his grade went up slightly from 2011.

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Sue Rarick
01/10/2013 09:29 AM

Although a big fan of David’s, I would just as soon see him go back to the dirt tracks.
The only good thing to come out of last year was being able to go back to DW car dealership where we were getting ready to buy a new car and telling them DW and his brother could go F themselves. We bought elsewhere. Not that they really cared, but I felt better.