By Kyle LoJacono
For David Reutimann racing was just in his blood.
He is the third generation of his family to become a racer. He learned racing from his father, Buzzie, on mostly dirt tracks around central Florida and is a former Zephyrhills resident.
“All I’ve known is racing,” Reutimann said. “All my life I’ve been racing some kind of car or truck. It would be weird not to go into racing.”
Reutimann moved up to the NASCAR’s top level, the Cup Series, in 2007 and has always been a member of Michael Waltrip Racing in the Toyota No. 00 car. He will remain a part of the racing team until 2012 after Reutimann reached a deal July 24, according to his manager Ryan Barry.
“It’s great to know it’s official,” Reutimann said. “We shook hands on the deal a couple weeks ago, but now everyone else knows and we can go out as a team and focus on winning.”
Reutimann, 40, was born in Zephyrhills and graduated from the high school. He currently lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa, and his daughter, Emilia. He first got his chance at professional racing in the Slim Jim All Pro Series in 1997, the same year he began the NASCAR Busch Series.
In 2004 he joined the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, where he was named the rookie of the year. His first appearance in the Cup Series race was in 2005 at Lowes’s Motor Speedway.
Reutimann’s first Cup Series win came at the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, which was shortened because of rain. He had to wait until July 10 of this year for his second victory, a stretch of 42 races, which was at the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Reutimann beat out Carl Edwards by 0.728 seconds to win the race. While Edwards wanted to win, he could not help but feel a little happy for Reutimann.
“He’s just a great guy,” Edwards said. “He’s the first one to congratulate you on something and the first to apologize if he feels he did something wrong.”
Edwards added that Reutimann is the kind of person the other racers would spend the day with when they have the weekend off.
After his win at Chicagoland, Reutimann said, “I heard so much stuff for winning a rain-shortened event that everybody said we didn’t earn it. Tonight, I don’t know what they can say about this one.”
Buzzie was also at the race to see his son pull into victory lane.
“The other drivers coming over and congratulating David meant just as much as winning the race to me,” Buzzie said. “When Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards came to victory lane — and even back in the garage where they were working on the cars — all the guys on the other team came and offered congratulations. Getting the respect from the other drivers means a lot.
“You race guys like you want to be raced and that makes a big difference because if you start roughing guys up it’s going to come back to you — I taught him that,” Buzzie continued. “I told him don’t go out there and run over somebody because you’re likely to get run over the next time. David’s been pretty smart about that.”
Reutimannis currently in into 18th place in the Cup Series. The top 12 drivers each year make the Chase for the Championship, NASCAR’s version of the playoffs. Reutimann has yet to make the chase and is 177 points behind 12th place Clint Bowyer.
Reutimann also has four top five finishes this season in 20 starts, the most of any year in his career.
Now that Reutimann has agreed to remain with the racing team he can go out and focus on making the chase.
“I’ve said this a couple times now, but I’m not going anywhere,” Reutimann said. “I’ll be at Michael Waltrip Racing. I may be cutting the grass, but I’ll be here.”
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