News & Media


Reutimann snags pole for Richmond Cup race

September 09, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service, NASCAR.com

RICHMOND, Va. -- Junior, Stewart, Hamlin all to start deep in field as they look to earn Chase berth

With all the permutations involving berths in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, one thing is certain -- the front row starters for Saturday's Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway won't figure in the Chase battle, at least on their own accounts.

Pole winner David Reutimann (127.383 mph) and second-place starter Jamie McMurray (127.334 mph) both have been eliminated from Chase contention, but they'll lead the field to the green flag in the race that will determine the final three contestants in NASCAR's 10-race playoff.

Richmond

Lineup
Pos.DriverMake
2.Jamie McMurrayChevrolet
3.Jimmie JohnsonChevrolet
4.Mark MartinChevrolet
5.Clint BowyerChevrolet

Powering around the .750-mile track in 21.196 seconds in Friday's time trials, Reutimann won his first pole award of the season and the fourth of his career.

"This is our first pole here and the first pole in a while for the Aaron's Dream Machine," said Reutimann, who had not won a pole since May 2009 at Dover. "It's been a dry spell for us, so it feels good.

"Things haven't gone quite the way we wanted them to this year, but we're working hard to get things turned around, and I think what you're seeing is a direct result of some of the stuff that we're doing different."

Out Front: Miss Coors Light with Reutimann

Neither Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. nor Denny Hamlin turned in the sorts of qualifying efforts that will make protecting spots in the Chase a relatively easy task. All will start deep in the field, with Stewart qualifying 22nd, Earnhardt 27th and Hamlin 28th.

Earnhardt can lock himself into the Chase with a finish of 20th or better. Stewart needs a finish of 18th or better, and Hamlin can secure a spot with a victory. With one victory this year, Hamlin currently holds the second wild-card position.

All told, 14 drivers are competing for the three remaining Chase spots, with Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and Brad Keselowski already having clinched Chase positions.

A further complication is that, by the time those drivers pick their pit boxes -- a process that mirrors the qualifying results -- all the good stalls will be gone.

Earnhardt was mum after his qualifying laps. Stewart thought his car would perform better in race trim.

"I don't remember what it's like to qualify in the top four here," Stewart said. "It's definitely a lot harder. In the spring race here we qualified in the back and got a lap down early and never could recover from it.

"But I think we've got a car that runs well. It seems like after about 10 laps our car is as good as anybody else's and maybe a tick better after 20 laps on. Hopefully, we'll get a lot of long, green-flag runs."

Notes-n-Nuggets

• This is David Reutimann's fourth Cup pole in his 161st start. His last pole was at Dover in May '09 (84 starts).
• David Reutimann's previous best start of 2011 was second at Michigan in June.
• David Reutimann became the 16th driver to win a pole in 2011.
• This is David Reutimann's first Richmond Cup pole in his 10th start. His previous best Richmond start was second in May 2010.
• This is Michael Waltrip Racing's sixth Cup Series pole. It's the team's first pole at Richmond and first pole in 2011.
• Jamie McMurray (second) earned his best Richmond start in his 18th race. His previous best start was eighth in May 2010.
• Jimmie Johnson (third) earned his 10th top-five start in his 20th race at Richmond.
• Mark Martin (fourth) will start in the top five for the third time in the past four races. He has started in the top five in both Richmond Cup races this season.
• Clint Bowyer (fifth) will start in the top 10 for the fourth consecutive Richmond race.
• Jeff Burton (sixth) earned his sixth top-10 start of 2011 -- his best Richmond start since he started fifth in Spring '09.
• Kevin Harvick (seventh) tied his best start in 2011 set in February in the Daytona 500.
• Denny Hamlin (28th) has won this race the past two seasons. He is guaranteed a spot in the 2011 Chase with a victory.

Mike Skinner, Erik Darnell and T.J. Bell failed to make the 43-car field.

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