Reutimann Wins LIFELOCK.COM 400 In Chicagoland

Chicagoland Speedway – The NASCAR record book will show that Michael Waltrip Toyota driver David Reutimann led 52 laps in Saturday’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, It will also note that he led the final 32 circuits while defeating two of the best; Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon.

But this win was one of the heart, and one of something not often heard in the sometimes contentious Sprint Cup garage; mutual respect.

Reutimann scored his second career Cup win after passing Gordon’s ill-handling DuPont Chevrolet, but the cloud that has hung over his first, rain-shortened 2009 Charlotte win, was finally blown away with a refreshing Windy City breeze here in the Chicago suburbs.

“I heard so much stuff for winning a rain-shortened event that everybody said we didn’t earn it,” said the obviously emotional second-generation driver who will likely have a contract extension with MWR announced on July 23rd in Indianapolis. “Tonight I don’t know what they can say about this one. I’m about to cry. This is awesome.”

Reutimann, the son of short track legend Buzzie Reutimann, took the lead for good on lap 236, but an earlier pass of Gordon for the race lead gave him the feeling that he just might have the strongest car. “Rodney (crew chief Childers), told me to stay on it and he’ll make a mistake. But this was Jeff Gordon! They kept telling me to be patient, so I just kept working on him,” said Reutimann about his lap 213 pass for the lead.

After a round of pit stops, he took the point for good, holding off first Gordon, and then a fast-closing Edwards for the win.

“I was able to take the lead at times, but he ran us down there, and the adjustments we made in the pits didn’t go our way. We fought between loose and tight all night,” noted Gordon, who started his 600th Cup race tonight. “We’re happy with third and we’re getting ready for the Chase. Right now it’s all about wins.”

For Edwards, who right now is the best of the struggling Ford contingent, his Jack Roush mount got stronger as the race wore on. “We had the fastest car at the end of the race. We ran the last lap hard- I wish I could have run them all that way,” said Edwards, who gained two spots(to tenth), in the points chase. “We have to figure out how to run this way every week.”

Perennial Sprint Cup contender Jimmie Johnson experienced a rough night at a track that hasn’t been kind to him in his Cup career. First he locked the brakes on his Lowe’s Chevrolet while entering the pits after leading the initial 92 laps, losing more than 6sec. In the process. Later, he spun after a near brush with Martin Truex Jr. took air off of his spoiler. And though the ensuing stop for a tire puncture dropped him a lap down, he still was able to keep his third spot in the point’s standings.

Clint Bowyer finished a strong fourth, while pole-winner Jamie McMurray was fifth after leading 72 laps earlier in the event.

But it was during the post- race interviews where the real trophies were handed out; verbal ones and not very shiny, but accolades that will last longer than the usual trophy girl awards.

“David is really a neat guy. He earned this one in the right way. He was the one to beat and he proved it,” noted Jeff Gordon.

“He’s the first to congratulate you when you win, and the first to apologize when he messes up. I know his first win had an asterisk behind it, but your second win is often more important. My second win really galvanized me and the team. It put a stamp on that we belonged in victory lane,” stated Carl Edwards. “He’s a class act-this was big for him.”

And as the other drivers came by in Victory Lane to give Reutimann a pat on the back, it was the winner himself who summed it up best: “Those are two of the guys (Gordon and Edwards) that I respect most in the garage. Coming from them means a lot.”

Mutual respect goes both ways.

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