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CUP: Reutimann Aims For First Chase Spot

David Reutimann is about as unassuming as unassuming gets. The Zephyrhills, Fla., native is the kind of guy you wouldn't necessarily pick out in a crowd. He's not loud, he's not flashy, he's not braggadocios. Quite simply, Reutimann's one of those blue-collar guys who lets his driving do the vast majority of his talking for him.

And pretty much ever since he joined Michael Waltrip, Reutimann's driving has been first rate. In each of his three previous seasons at MWR, Reutimann earned the most points of any of the team's drivers. Last year, he gave MWR its first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory, capturing the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Which brings us to this year.

Reutimann opened the 2010 Cup season with an outstanding fifth-place finish in the Daytona 500, they scored top 15s the next two weeks in Southern California and Las Vegas. Unfortunately for Reutimann, his momentum hit a big brick wall last Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, when overheating problems dropped him to 40th in the finishing results and from ninth all the way to 18th in the points.

Obviously, Reutimann will be opening for a better result in two weeks at Bristol Motor Speedway, when he'll try to get back on track to give MWR its first berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“Well, I think we definitely have the pieces in place at Michael Waltrip Racing to continue to be in the Chase and do the things we need to do, win races, run in the top 5, get poles and do those things, lead laps, all the things that you go there to do every week,” said Reutimann, who comes from a dirt-track racing family. I feel like we have all the pieces in place to do that.

As for the trappings of success that go with being a big-time stock-car racer, well, those are less important to Reutimann's sense of identity.

“Throughout my entire career I've been a guy that's flown under the radar,” said Reutimann. “That's just my style. I'm not flashy. There's nothing special about me. I sure don't look all that good. It's a situation where I just come to drive a race car, and that's really all I care about doing.”

His crew brings the same no-nonsense approach to preparing the No. 00 Toyota Camry.

“We go out there as a race team, we try not to ruffle any feathers, just try to go out there and do our job week in and week out and try to get the best result we possibly can,” explained Reutimann. “It's always nice … at the end of the day, guys are like — at the Daytona 500, everybody was so caught up in what the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) was doing, they forgot to mention that I was the one that was pushing the 88. It was just one of those deals where you just kind of get lost in the shuffle.

“And that's okay,” said Reutimann. “As long as Aaron's get some exposure and my sponsors gets some exposure, I don't need any. As long as the sponsors get it, that's the most important thing to me.”

As for his personal life, the happily married father isn't the party animal that a lot of the younger, single drivers are.

“I don't do much,” Reutimann admitted. “I drive a race car on Sundays, but other than that, my life is pretty well — not anything exciting, not jumping out of airplanes, not wrestling alligators. I've cut way back on that, doing stuff like that. I just like to hang out. I like to work in my shop and I like quiet time. So yeah, I get my adrenaline fix on Sundays, and I don't need much more during the week, just kind of hang out. I don't like to drive fast on the highways, just kind of cruise around and then try to go fast on Sundays.”

Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEEDtv.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.