Race Weekend Central

2012 NASCAR Driver Review: David Reutimann

David Reutimann

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: TMone, Accell Construction, Melling Engine Parts, TradeBank, Phoenix Construction, Burger King, No Label Watches
2012 Owners: Tommy Baldwin, James Finch, Ron Devine, Wayne Press, Johnathan Cohen
2012 Crew Chiefs: Tommy Baldwin Jr., Steve Wood, Nick Harrison, Todd Anderson, Buddy Sisco, Frank Kerr
2012 Stats: 25 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s, 0 poles, eight DNFs, one DNQ, 34th in points

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 10 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 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: 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 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.

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

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 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.

2007 Frontstretch Grade: B-
2008 Grade: B
2009 Grade: B
2010 Grade: B-
2011 Grade: C-
2012 Grade: C

About the author

What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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