News & Media


Odd man out: Reutimann shocked that end is imminent at MWR

November 04, 2011, Joe Menzer, NASCAR.com

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Reutimann shocked, disappointed that end is imminent at MWR

Others may have seen it coming.

David Reutimann said he did not. And on the same day that team owner Michael Waltrip celebrated the pending arrival of driver Mark Martin to his organization, Reutimann was left to ponder the fact that Martin's arrival means his imminent departure.

Martin to MWR


Mark Martin opens up about taking over the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 00 in 2012.

"I'm just disappointed," Reutimann said. "Overall, just disappointed, bummed out ... to put it mildly. But it happened and it is what it is."

Reutimann said he was in Las Vegas last Tuesday, doing a promotion in conjunction with Toyota, when Waltrip reached him via telephone to tell him the news. Despite a poor season in which he is mired in 28th in the points standings with only three races remaining, including this Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Reutimann insisted he did not expect it.

"It's been an awful season for us, for sure," Reutimann said. "We haven't run up to our expectations or our standards. But I thought we would have a chance to make up for it."

Now Reutimann is the odd man out, despite the fact that he was under contract to drive for MWR for another season. He said he has no idea what he'll do next.

"I just found out Tuesday. So there was not a lot of advance notice to do anything," Reutimann said. "You know, the thing about it is that there's not a lot out there -- and if there were to be something out there, it's going to involve you doing the same thing that just got done to me. I'm not exactly up for that, either.

"So I don't know what'll happen. It may come down to something like that -- but I've got to think on that a little bit. When one person's gain is another person's big loss, you've got to weigh the plusses there."

Reutimann was asked if perhaps it was time for him to look out for No. 1. He laughed and replied: "People looking out for No. 1 is what got me in this situation. So, yeah, that's a mentality. I'm no angel, but I'm just struggling a little bit with that.

"I'm not saying that would happen. I'm just saying if I was to go to another car, it unfortunately would probably be at the expense of someone else. And, man, I know how bad it feels for me right now. You've just got to wonder if it's worth it in the long run. I don't know."

Then again, Reutimann admitted he doesn't have many alternatives. Or perhaps none at all, at least at this point.

"The alternative is not doing anything at all. And that's not a great alternative to have. You know, again, you've got to look at it from the perspective of what's out there," he said.

He pointed out that despite this year's struggles, he won one race in each of the two seasons leading up to this one. He also came tantalizingly close to making the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup before fading down the stretch and finishing 16th in points. He was 18th in points in 2010.

"I still want it as bad as anybody in the garage," Reutimann said. "Just because I don't get out of the car after we've had a bad race and yell at my crew and throw my helmet and stuff like that, just because you guys [in the media] can't visibly see how bad I want it, doesn't mean I don't. I want it worse than anybody who's ever set foot in this garage area. I still do.

"I can still win races and I can still get the job done. Let's not forget that last year we were able to win and actually had a shot at making it into the Chase. That's only been a year ago. I can still do that if I get in the right situation. It's just unfortunate that things worked out like they did."

Reutimann admitted that his seemingly mild-mannered demeanor might work against him when it comes to trying to find a new job.

"I'm just disappointed. Overall, just disappointed, bummed out ... to put it mildly."

--DAVID REUTIMANN

"Realistically, I don't know what other car owners think, or know, or think they know about me. It's hard to say," Reutimann said. "I'm relatively quiet, so that's probably been a detriment to letting people know what I'm all about. But in the end, I still want to do this awfully bad, and I still feel like I can contribute in the right situation."

Reutimann, the son of East Coast racing legend Emil "Buzzie" Reutimann, ran 26 Cup races for Michael Waltrip Racing in 2007 and began running a full schedule for MWR in the No. 00 in 2008, when he posted the first four top-10 finishes of his career and finished 22nd in points. In 168 career Cup starts heading into this Sunday, he has two wins, four poles, 12 top-five and 25 top-10 finishes.

But this season, he has only one top-five and two top-10 finishes. Since finishing second at Kentucky in early July, he has gone 15 consecutive races without cracking the top 10. He admitted the final three races, which also will include stops at Phoenix and Homestead, will be difficult.

"It's tough. There's no sugar-coating this deal. Right now Aaron's is still my sponsor and these are still my guys," Reutimann said. "A lot of these [crew members] came over here with me from my Truck Series days, so they're still my guys and this is still my team. I have a couple more races with them, and we'll try to make the most of it like we've been doing every week.

"It hasn't been a pretty season for us at all. It's been a real disappointment. I'll take some of the blame, for sure. I've messed up some this year. But at the end of the day, it hasn't been all me, either. It's equal parts, you know, and that's kind of how it works."

Reutimann said being told this was a business move -- and nothing personal -- by Waltrip and others has not really helped him deal with it. At least not yet.

"It's only business if it doesn't happen to you. It's hard for me not to take it personal," Reutimann said. "It's hard to accept and hard to stomach a little bit. But I knew coming into this deal, this stuff's not forever. People take for granted that you're going to be here every week -- and that's just not how this works. So we'll just pick up and go on.

"I appreciate the opportunities that I've had. In the end, Michael Waltrip gave me an opportunity to go Cup racing when no one else would, and I appreciate that. And Aaron's [as a sponsor] as well. But that ship has sailed and I've got to figure out something to do now."

Reutimann admitted he could not begrudge MWR for pursuing Martin, winner of 40 Cup races in a career that has stretched three decades -- even if it did ultimately put him in the unemployment line.

"They decided to make a change and they got a really good guy to drive," Reutimann said. "I mean, when you look in the dictionary or if there's a picture somewhere of what a race-car driver looks like, right under Buzzie Reutimann is Mark Martin. So they got the right guy for the job."