April 8, 2012
By Jim Fitzgerald
Up In The Marbles…After The Goody’s Fast Relief 500
The Rights of David Reutimann
I have said it before, and I will repeat myself now for those who are unfamiliar with my stance, and it goes back to the “Start and Park” concept.
If a team and driver are able to put a car together which will go fast enough for the allotted laps of qualifying that a starting spot in the field is secured, I believe that the team and driver should be able to race their car as they see fit, as long as they do so within the rules of NASCAR.
That said, I believe David Reutimann had every right to try to make it to the end of the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 this last Sunday, just as a driver who had qualified the car has the right to pull into the pits after 25 laps because of a “vibration.”
They have qualified for the event, and it is their right to go as far as they can or retire as early as they wish as long as they perform within the rule book. The word on the street is that Kasey Kahne also knew that the engine in his car was failing, but he stayed on the track as well. No one is yelling for Kasey Kahne’s head to be removed and put in a box.
Reutimann, driver for Tommy Baldwin Racing, is in, shall we say, “challenging” equipment, with all due respect. I doubt that any of us will confuse the No. 10 car with Carl Edwards’ Ford Fusion or Tony Stewart’s Chevrolet Impala any time soon.
This does not mean that Reutimann is any less of a driver than the aforementioned NASCAR superstars. It simply means that while Edwards and Stewart may be fighting for a Championship, Reutimann is, right now, fighting to stay within the top thirty-five teams in owner’s points, which would guarantee the team a starting position in the next race.
It was this guarantee that Reutimann was fighting for when he tried to limp his crumbling race car to the end of Sunday’s competition.
With roughly thirty laps to go, Reutimann’s car began showing signs of engine problems, but Reutimann continued on. As the laps continued to wind down, the car was riding on brakes which barely existed, but Reutimann continued on. With only a handful of laps to go, the suspension in the car failed, and Reutimann continued on.
Only when NASCAR threw the black flag at Reutimann did he attempt to bring the car to pit road. Reutimann attempted to turn his car into the pits when he had the opportunity, but the car would not turn due to the mechanical failures…and Reutimann continued on. As he tried to increase his speed after failing to make the pit lane safely, the engine finally let go, and Reutimann was unable to get back to the garage, his car stalling on the track bringing out the penultimate caution flag, setting up a Green, White, Checkered finish.
There was anger, unhappiness, confusion, and a lot of questions surrounding the idle No. 10 car on the track.
Drivers were questioning motives and fans were questioning rules. Even NASCAR officials were not satisfied until they saw the failed parts from Reutimann’s car, but I still believe that Reutimann had every right to stay out on the track and get every point he could possible get.
The Rights of Clint Bowyer
Where was I? Oh, right…”penultimate caution.”
So after Reutimann “ruined the race” with his actions, we had our first attempt at a Green, White, Checkered finish. Jeff Gordon on the inside of row one, Jimmie Johnson on the outside.
Then there was Clint Bowyer on the inside of row two and Brad Keselowski on the outside, and Ryan Newman on the inside of row three. After a seemingly endless caution, the green flag flew once again. It was at this point that the entire contents of Hades were released from their moorings.
Clint Bowyer dropped to the inside as the cars crossed the start/finish line. He got a shot in the bumper from Ryan Newman, and as the cars entered turn one, they were still three wide. Bowyer came up into Gordon, Johnson came down into Gordon, cars were bumping, cars were spinning, cars were sliding, and cars were wrecking.
Jimmie Johnson was angry, Jeff Gordon was angry, and Clint Bowyer was confused, and Ryan Newman took the lead as he came through the smoke and spinning cars like Cole Trickle in “Days of Thunder.” So, everyone was mad at Bowyer for ruining the finish of the race.
One radio personality even said he felt cheated by the end of the race because he was robbed of the finish that was to happen between Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Going back to Bowyer, do you make that move on lap five? Probably not. Do you make it on lap 125, still not the best of moves. Do you make it with fifty laps to go? Perhaps, depending on the circumstances.
Do you make that same move on the first attempt at a Green, White, Checkered finish. I would have, and I don’t even drive. I would have done it one hundred times out of one hundred, especially if I am Clint Bowyer.
Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, maybe they do not make that play. They will have multiple chances to win and are almost already assured of making the Chase. Clint Bowyer, however, does not have the equipment to be a serious challenge very week. Bowyer would need to make the most of every opportunity, and I fault him not in his quest to win his first race of the season.
*These are probably not popular opinions, but they are mine. Feel free to write me back and let me know how you feel. That will be all for me for now. We will look at –- what? An off week!
“Life is based less than you think on what you’ve learned, and much more than you think on what you have inside you right from the beginning”
Jumblies…Remember to follow me on Twitter: @forewasabi
You can contact Jim at.. Insider Racing News
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.