2010 Ride: No. 00 Aaron’s Toyota
2010 Primary Sponsors: Aaron’s, TUMS
2010 Owners: Michael Waltrip & Robert Kauffman
2010 Crew Chief: Rodney Childers
2010 Stats: 36 starts, 1 win, 6 top fives, 9 top 10s, 18th in points
High Point: Obviously, the Chicago race, where Reutimann ran down Jeff Gordon in the late stages and passed him, grabbing his only victory of 2010. That might have legitimized Reutimann somewhat to the casual NASCAR crowd, as his only other career win came at last year’s rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 after he stayed out with a damaged racecar. Reutimann also finished second at Bristol, but we’ll get to that in the next paragraph.
Low Point: OK, let’s admit that this one could also be a high point for many fans. After getting spun by Kyle Busch at Kansas, Reutimann took matters into his own hands, running Busch into the backstretch wall in a move that effectively ended his rival’s Chase hopes. Afterwards, Reutimann expressed displeasure with the way that Busch raced him, even though Busch apologized for the incident, saying he didn’t mean to cause the earlier spin. (This payback also raised the issue of whether or not it was ethical for a non-Chaser to exact revenge on a Chaser during the Chase.)
Where’d the bad blood begin between the two? Turns out the spat between Busch and Reutimann started at that August Bristol race, when Busch, almost unprompted, said that Reutimann could beat him at Bristol if he knew how to “drive the track correctly.” Ouch.
Summary: Reutimann was a borderline Chase contender all throughout 2010, but nine top 10s aren’t going to get a driver into the Promised Land of the NASCAR playoff. Reutimann faded down the stretch – no thanks to that run-in with Busch – and was a borderline top-15 driver throughout the season most weeks.
Reutimann did gain a good teammate in Martin Truex Jr., and another year of data sharing should make Michael Waltrip Racing better. But the question still remains: will MWR become a legitimate Chase-caliber team? The pieces seem to be there, but Truex and Reutimann’s flashes of greatness were canceled out by a lot of lackluster performances.
2011 Outlook: Reutimann should get a win or two next year, and Truex should also break into victory lane. If MWR’s success is based solely on qualifying for the Chase in 2011, though, the organization could be set up for failure. Even if Reutimann become more consistent, it’s a very crowded field at the top of the Sprint Cup heap. It’s entirely possible that this driver may be near his season performance ceiling.
2006 Frontstretch Grade: N/A
2007 Grade: B-
2008 Grade: B
2009 Grade: B
2010 Grade: B-
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