NASCAR Sprint Cup driver David Reutimann is hitting the situations vacant ads this weekend, after Michael Waltrip Racing announced that they were parting ways with the driver at the end of the current season.
"David has been a significant part of Michael Waltrip Racing since the very beginning and will forever be a part of our heritage," said team co-owner Michael Waltrip. "We want to thank David for his contribution to our growth and success over the past five years and wish him well in the future."
Waltrip later followed up the formal announcement with a brief tweet saying "I love [David]. It's been a tough week." There has so far been no comment (formal or via social media) from Reutimann himself in response.
Reutimann, 41, has made 168 Sprint Cup starts since his series début in 2007, all of them with MWR: he'll add three more (at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami) before he departs the team at the end of November. To date he's claimed two race wins (the only victories the team has had), 12 top fives, 25 top ten finishes and has four pole positions to his credit.
Reutimann had signed a three-year extension to his MWR contract just last year, and had been on comparable form with his current team mate Martin Truex Jr. this season, making the news of his sudden exit from the team very unexpected. The timing of the announcement - so close to the end of the season, with most of the major teams already having made their driver choices for 2012 - makes his prospects of finding another race seat look somewhat bleak at this point, especially with teams cutting back because of the tight financial situation in the economy.
MWR have also announced a media press conference for Friday morning at Texas Motor Speedway, which is expected to discuss Reutimann's departure and also to unveil the team's plans for 2012 in the wake of the news.
Multiple media sources are claiming that Reutimann's seat in the #00 will be taken on a part-time basis by veteran race driver Mark Martin, whose contract at Hendrick Motorsports expires at the end of this season and who will be replaced in the #5 by Kasey Kahne from the start of next season.
Martin himself had previously been thought to be targeted by the Stewart-Haas Racing to fill a third Cup car alternating with Danica Patrick, who will be competing in "select" Cup races in addition to her first full Nationwide Series in 2011.
MWR recently announced the signing of Clint Bowyer to the team, after Bowyer was unable to come to terms with his current team boss Richard Childress to continue their long association.