When looking at last season’s performance, it’s hard to choose a high point in David Stremme’s lackluster year. It would probably be a toss-up between his best finish of 13th at Auto Club Speedway in February, where he led three laps, and a great run spoiled by a late-race pit stop at Talladega in early November.
Michael Waltrip and team had to have left the season-opening Daytona 500 feeling pretty good after a solid top-10 finish to start off the third year in existence for the heavily Toyota-supported team. In fact, the first two races of 2009 had to be satisfying for Waltrip.
When your high point comes in the first race of the year, you know you’re in for a long season. On the bright side, Martin Truex Jr. couldn’t have started off any better by winning the pole for the season-opening Daytona 500.
Scott Speed had just one top-five finish this year – at Talladega this spring – and even that run went largely unnoticed courtesy of Carl Edwards bouncing off Ryan Newman’s windshield and nearly parking it in the front row on the final lap. While far from a weekly contender, Speed also led 12 laps at Martinsville this spring courtesy of a competition caution.
For Reed Sorenson, his only top 10 of the 2009 season was the aforementioned ninth in the rain-shortened Daytona 500. That was part of a very interesting day for RPM, by far their best of the season. AJ Allmendinger finished a career-best third and Elliott Sadler wound up fifth after nearly pulling the upset of the year.
Despite running part-time in 2009, Furniture Row Racing announced on August 19th that they will step back up to the full schedule in 2010 with Regan Smith as driver. It is a second chance of sorts for the 26-year-old and former Rookie of the Year, hoping he’ll showcase the best of his abilities in hopes of finding a better ride down the line.
You know a driver’s season is rough when their high point of success occurs in the opening race. David Ragan experienced this premature zenith in the Daytona 500, finishing sixth in the No. 6 UPS Ford. That led to hopes for a Chase-contending season, but little did we know Ragan’s only other top 10 in 2009 would not come until 29 races later… a seventh in the fall Fontana race.
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.
Elliott Sadler was just a lap away from being crowned the 2009 Daytona 500 champion. With no drafting help from behind, Sadler opened up too big of a gap in turn 4 on what would be the next to last lap, which allowed eventual winner Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick to draft past him on the frontstretch.
The Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in April. Menard had his best weekend of the year, qualifying fifth and leading a lap before ending the race a solid 13th.