Sunday, July 11, 2010

Reutimann Takes Asterisk Off Record with Chicagoland Win

By David Newton
JOLIET, Ill. -- Two months ago David Reutimann stood on pit road at Charlotte Motor Speedway beside a duplicate of the Coca-Cola 600 trophy he won there a year earlier in a rain-shortened event. He joked about how there should be an asterisk beside his name, reminding everyone there is one every time somebody mentions the victory.
Deep down, you got the feeling he wasn't joking.
Deep down Reutimann wanted nothing more than to prove he belonged in Victory Lane just as much as four-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson or anybody else, that he wasn't just the driver who got lucky one day.
He can stop wanting. He belongs.
The 40-year-old driver for Michael Waltrip Racing took the lead from Jeff Gordon on Lap 213 of Saturday night's race at Chicagoland Speedway and dominated the final 54 laps for his second career victory.
As he crossed the finish line, his spotter shouted, "Ain't no rain tonight!"
But there was moisture in the air, and more than just from the tears raining down Reutimann's face and the Gatorade shower in Victory Lane.
"We earned this one," Reutimann said. "Nobody gave it to us and that feels pretty good."
The win felt good for a lot of reasons. It was refreshing in a season in which powerhouse organizations Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Penske Racing and Richard Childress Racing had won all but one of 18 races.
It was good to see the raw emotion of a driver hungry to win instead of the almost "aw-shucks-I-did-it-again" reaction from Johnson, Denny Hamlin and the Busch brothers, Kurt and Kyle.
Not since pole-sitter Jamie McMurray kissed the grass after winning the opener in Daytona have we seen a more popular win or emotional display.

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