Reutimann gambles to maiden win

David Reutimann claimed his maiden Sprint Cup series win in a rain-interrupted Coca Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway

Reutimann gambles to maiden win

The event, which had been postponed from Sunday due to rain, was itself interrupted by rain four times, including three red flag periods, which added up to nearly four hours of waiting for drivers, teams and fans.

During the sixth and final caution of the day, which was called due to a slight drizzle on lap 221 of 400 scheduled, Kyle Busch led the field into the pits as the leaders all needed to refuel, but three drivers, led by Reutimann, gambled on staying out hoping the rain would intensify and the race would be stopped.

As they had already passed the halfway mark, the order could eventually become the official race results if efforts to resume the event were not successful.

After two hours of waiting, and nearly six-and-a-half hours after the green flag waved for the first time, officials decided to call it a day as the rain intensified, making Reutimann the sixth driver to take his maiden Sprint Cup series victory in the longest race of the calendar, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.

As well as Reutimann claiming his first win, his team Michael Waltrip Racing also took their maiden victory in its third season in NASCAR's premier series.

"You never dream about winning a rain-delayed race," Reutimann said. "But I'm proud of my guys and [crew-chief] Rodney Childers made a great call.

"He said 'OK man, we're going to stay out, we're going to gamble here a little bit and see what happens. He won us the race, it was the right call."

Polesitter Ryan Newman finished second also staying out during the final round of pitstops. He led the first two laps from pole position but a penalty for a loose lug nut on lap 43 had dropped him down the order and he struggled to make much of a recovery after that.

Robby Gordon, who also stayed out on that final caution finished third, earning some valuable points that allow him to get further away from dropping out of the top-35 in the owner standings, as he arrived at this weekend's race in 34th place.

Carl Edwards changed only two tyres on his last stop and finished fourth as the best of those who pitted before the race was stopped for the fourth and final time.

Brian Vickers ran the same tyre strategy to finish fifth, something he didn't really celebrate as he had been leading the race twice, looking to be the car to beat at one point. However lengthy stops lost him track position and rain wouldn't allow him to recover that on the track.

"I'm disappointed," said Vickers. "Would have liked to have finished the race because I know we had a car capable of winning. It would mean so much to get a win at Lowe's. We get closer and closer to winning each time we come here. We'll just have to wait a few months longer (until October) for another chance."

Kyle Busch led the most laps with 173 upfront, but he seemed to lose pace at the end of every stint. He made the most of his front-row starting position and being quick in the short runs to put his car in the lead and benefit from clean air, but he certainly didn't have the fastest car of the day, finishing sixth in the end.

"We had to come down and put gas in it," said Busch about stopping while in the lead during the final caution. "Fortunately a lot of guys like us took four tyres so we didn't lose that much ground. The 99 (Carl Edwards) and the 83 (Brian Vickers) took two (tyres) so they got out in front of us. It only hurt us two spots."

Last year's event-winner Kasey Kahne ran in the top-five for most of the race, and got close to passing Busch for the lead right before the final caution came out. After his last stop, he emerged from the pits in seventh, which is where he was classified in the end.

Juan Pablo Montoya had probably his best showing of the year finishing in an eighth place which didn't reflect his true pace. The Colombian was not good on short runs, but the longer the green flag periods were, the faster he would be relative to the opposition, running as high as second behind Vickers while looking capable of fighting for his first victory on an oval.

"We ran within the top 10 all day and I really thought we'd be racing for the win," said Montoya. "We had to pit under that caution, but didn't think we'd end it that way. Another top 10 is good.

"We normally don't run well here, so it just shows how much we continue to improve. We'll head to Dover and hope to get the Target car another great finish."

Rookie Joey Logano also impressed by running solidly in the top-ten and finishing ninth, matching his best result of the season, although a top-five looked on the cards for the 19-year-old.

Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-ten while Jeff Gordon didn't have a great day but still managed to finish ahead of those close to him in the championship, extending his lead in the points over Tony Stewart.

Out of the six caution periods only one was caused by an incident, that caution coming out on lap 17 when Kevin Harvick went against the barrier after his right-front tyre blew due to earlier contact with Sam Hornish Jr. On lap 165 the red flag waved as NASCAR held a minute's silence to honour the memory of fallen heroes on Memorial Day.

Pos Driver Car Laps 1. David Reutimann Toyota 227 2. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 227 3. Robby Gordon Toyota 227 4. Carl Edwards Ford 227 5. Brian Vickers Toyota 227 6. Kyle Busch Toyota 227 7. Kasey Kahne Dodge 227 8. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 227 9. Joey Logano Toyota 227 10. Matt Kenseth Ford 227 11. Denny Hamlin Toyota 227 12. Bobby Labonte Ford 227 13. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 227 14. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 227 15. Bill Elliott Ford 227 16. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 227 17. Mark Martin Chevrolet 227 18. Scott Speed Toyota 227 19. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 227 20. Greg Biffle Ford 227 21. Jamie McMurray Ford 227 22. David Stremme Dodge 227 23. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 227 24. David Ragan Ford 227 25. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 227 26. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 227 27. David Gilliland Chevrolet 226 28. Dave Blaney Toyota 226 29. Paul Menard Ford 226 30. Michael Waltrip Toyota 226 31. Elliott Sadler Dodge 226 32. A.J. Allmendinger Dodge 226 33. Casey Mears Chevrolet 226 34. Kurt Busch Dodge 226 35. Reed Sorenson Dodge 226 36. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 226 37. Joe Nemechek Toyota 226 38. Scott Riggs Toyota 225 39. Tony Raines Chevrolet 225 40. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 225 41. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 224 42. Max Papis Toyota 219 43. Mike Bliss Dodge 42 
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