Toyota drivers David Reutimann and Kyle Busch shared the distinction of starting from the back of the field in Sunday's Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, after engine changes negated strong qualifying runs - and both overcame the handicap.
While Reutimann's effort wasn't as dramatic as Busch's, who won the pole Friday, went to the rear Sunday and won the Shelby 427, his fourth-place result, the first top-five of his career, was nevertheless cause for celebration.
“I'm absolutely thrilled, with the way our day started out and having to go to the back after having a great qualifying run there,” said Reutimann, who had qualified fourth before the engine change, “People say 'well, it's a fluke', or 'they lucked out', but we started about last and came up through there up onto the top ten. Then we had an oil leak and went back to about 25th or so and drove up through there again and ended up getting a top-five finish."
Although his forward progress was not enough to lead a lap, Reutimann was among the more significant movers during the race, climbing to 16th by quarter-distance, and then again towards the end, when he moved into the top four and, after a late caution for Jimmie Johnson's spin, took the #00 Michael Waltrip Racing Camry within spitting distance of racewinner Busch. In the process, Reutimann moved up to fifth in points, the highest position yet achieved by a member of the MWR organisation.
“At the end of the day, I'm proud of my guys," noted the 39-year old, who celebrates his birthday today [2 March], "They did a great job, and it doesn't get any better than that.”by Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service