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NASCAR Season Preview: David Reutimann

Photo credit: John Trainor (CC-GEN)

#10 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing

Born: March 2, 1970

Home: Zephyrhills, Florida

2011 HIGHLIGHTS: While team owner Michael Waltrip failed to make his hometown Kentucky race when qualifying was rained out, Reutimann nearly gave his owner the best consolation prize possible, leading as late as lap 256 (of 267) and finishing second in the event. He also finished ninth in the Coca-Cola 600, a race he won in 2009.

2011 LOWLIGHTS: After two consecutive winning, top-20 seasons, Reutimann took a major step back in 2011, finishing a dismal 28th in points after failing to win any races and only scoring three top-10s. The longtime Waltrip family driver had a contract to return to the Aaron’s Dream Machine for 2012, only to be notified of his dismissal in November.

SEASON OUTLOOK: Reutimann’s drop off in 2011 led to the end of a long-term relationship with Michael Waltrip Racing and sponsor Aaron’s, a disappointment exacerbated by how late it came in the silly season. In response, Reutimann had to scramble to put a ride together, eventually signing with Tommy Baldwin Racing to drive the #35 car for 26 races this season. The team had been expected to run about mid-pack until Baldwin struck an alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing to combine Reutimann’s schedule with that of Danica Patrick, who had been scheduled to run 10 races in the #10 Chevrolet.

Reutimann and Baldwin will now receive technical and pit crew support from Stewart-Haas, which includes the opportunity to work with Patrick’s crew chief Greg Zipadelli. While the team needs sponsorship for Reutimann’s races, and he’ll miss a lot of marquee events (including the Daytona 500 and Coca-Cola 600), the good news is that the goal for this team in 2012 is to stay in the top 35 in owners’ points so that Patrick has a qualifying crutch for her first full-time Sprint Cup season in 2013. And while this team most likely won’t win any races in 2012, it provides Reutimann an opportunity to refocus, impress some owners, and perhaps sign a better deal for 2013.

– Chris Leone

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