2009 Ride: No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
2009 Primary Sponsor: Aaron’s Dream Machine
2009 Owner: Michael Waltrip
2009 Crew Chief: Rodney Childers
Stats: 36 starts, 1 win, 5 top fives, 10 top 10s, 2 poles, 16th in points
Best Finish: 1st, Coca-Cola 600
Average Finish: 16.4
High Point: Entering 2009 without a win in three full seasons, David Reutimann broke into the victory column in a rain-shortened 340.5-mile Coca-Cola 600 in May. Reutimann elected to stay out when rain forced the event’s final caution, catapulting him to the front and making him the 20th driver to win in all three national series. But the success didn’t end there as the Zephryhills, Fla. native marked career highs in top fives, top 10s and poles while flirting with the Chase deep into the summer months.
Low Point: Reutimann got into an on-track altercation with the oft-fiery Denny Hamlin in the August Pocono race. The eventual race winner, Hamlin accused Reutimann of brake-checking on lap 174 when the No. 11 turned the No. 00, effectively killing any Chase chances Reutimann may have had. Reutimann came into the race 13th in points and easily within striking distance of the Chase cutoff, but the accident resulted in a 29th-place finish and subsequent drop to 16th in points, 121 markers back.
Summary: 2009 was a year of much more highs than lows for a driver who, if it weren’t for Juan Pablo Montoya’s resurgence, arguably had the most surprising breakthrough season. With zero wins and top fives, and just four top 10 in his previous three seasons, Reutimann pounced on the competition with one win, five top fives and 10 top 10s. Consistency was key for the No. 00 team, dropping outside of the top 30 only twice while finishing every race of the 2009 calendar.
2010 Outlook: Breakthrough seasons for Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose, plus the addition of Martin Truex Jr. have the folks at Michael Waltrip Racing chomping at the bit for the start of the 2010 season in February. Despite sponsorship problems, Tums and Best Western have jumped on board to keep the No. 00 on the track, joining Aaron’s to ensure a 36-race season no matter what. Expect Reutimann and Co. to be in contention for the final Chase spot in August and September once again next season.
2006 Frontstretch Grade: N/A
2007 Grade: B-
2008 Grade: B
2009 Grade: B