Tag: David Reutimann

Waltrip Setting Stage To Exit NASCAR Ownership

News broke Wednesday that Rob Kauffman, majority owner of Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR), was closing in on purchasing Felix Sabates’ stake in Chip Ganassi Racing. This will be a duel commentary post taking a look at Waltrip in this piece and how ownership has gone for the goofy pitchman.

While all parties are mum on the situation, it is amazing that Waltrip had not been run out of ownership sooner given what his history has been in the position. Waltrip founded his team on the foundation of being a Toyota flag ship for their entry into NASCAR in 2007. It didn’t take long for the goofy pitchman’s luster to start wearing off. At the season opening Daytona 500, the team was found to have used jet fuel in their cars to get an advantage. NASCAR did not look kindly on this infraction handing out suspensions, monetary and points fines, and stripping the teams of their qualifying times. What a great first impression for Toyota into a sport that already had fans annoyed with a non-American company entering into it.

The season would not continue any less smooth as the teams of Waltrip (#55), Dale Jarrett (#44), and David Reutimann (#00) routinely missed races. Reutimann missing 10, Jarrett missing 12, and Waltrip’s team missing 17. This kind of performance ran Jarrett out of the sport after five races in 2008 (planned in advance of the season, but you have to wonder how forced his hand was after 2007), but more importantly left Waltrip on the brink of bankruptcy once sponsors began jettisoning the team.

Enter Kauffman, who brought a boat load of cash to the organization, enough to become majority owner of the team baring Waltrip’s name. The next season was slightly better with Waltrip and Reutimann starting all the races, but the team nearly destroy Michael McDowell’s career before it started by pushing him into the #00 car. By 2009, the #44 team folder with Reutimann returning to the 00 and Waltrip took his last run for a full season in the #55.

The team turned around and hit its stride during this time period with Reutimann collecting wins in 2009 and 2010. The team added Martin Truex Jr into the mix in 2011, then in true Waltrip fashion, unceremoniously tossed Reutimann (a loyal Waltrip guy) to the curb so late in 2011 he could not find a ride and never fully recovered. That opened the door for Clint Bowyer to join the team for 2012 and they were rewarded with three wins from his team and a 2nd place finish in the points.

Just when things looked their brightest in 2013, Waltrip done Waltrip’d himself again. Truex won at Sonoma, fill in Brian Vickers won at New Hampshire, and the team was poised to have Truex and Bowyer in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. During the Richmond race, final regular season race, Bowyer got directions to cause a caution to the benefit of Truex to make the Chase. NASCAR figured out the charade and kicked Truex out of the Chase. That resulted in sponsor NAPA, having been with Waltrip since 2001, leaving the organization (and almost NASCAR) and Truex was left without a ride.

Both last season and this season the team has been average at best, running mid to late 20’s each weekend. This past week saw Toyota be non-committal when asked about MWR’s future, along with longtime supporter Aaron’s on if they would return to the #55 next season.

For Waltrip, he’s a goofy pitchman whose antics helped keep sponsors happy while his performance was in the toilet, but that act I believe has finally worn off. While he’ll still have his gig as FOX Sports talking head, with Kauffman leaving (with Clint Bowyer), it’s hard to believe he has the finances to continue, much less the desire to keep his team afloat.

The Paradigm Shift In NASCAR

Much was made last November about a changing of the guard in NASCAR when we ran the season finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Mark Martin and Ken Schrader made it be known it would be their final Sprint Cup Series race. For Jeff Burton and Bobby Labonte it represented their final full-time race in the series, although Labonte did not make the trip south as his finale was a week prior at Phoenix. Continue reading “The Paradigm Shift In NASCAR”

So-So Results For BK Racing At Dover

Travis_Kvapil_13_Car

The Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyotas of David Reutimann and Travis Kvapil and decent days Sunday at the Dover International Speedway in the AAA 400. Reutimann brought his BK Racing Camry home in the 28th position and Kvapil followed him teammate with a 30th place finish.

While a respectful performance for the team, it wasn’t quite what they had in mind.

“Our No. 93 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry was just too loose today,” commented Kvapil.  “The track didn’t react the way we expected it to, so it was difficult for us to get ahead of the changing conditions.  My BK Racing team worked hard making adjustments during every pit stop, and I appreciate their effort.  Lap times are very quick at Dover International Speedway, and once the leader passes by, it is hard to regain that track position.  While it wasn’t the finish we had hoped for, I’m proud of how hard our Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry team worked this weekend.  We’re looking forward to getting to Kansas Speedway again next week.”

Reutimann echoed his teammate’s assessment of his car when it came to his #83 Toyota.

“Our No. 83 Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry didn’t handle quite the way we wanted it to, but our team never gave up,” commented Reutimann.  “That ‘never give up’ attitude is really important, and I appreciate all the work that they put into the race today to help us improve.  Through that hard work we were able to both improve our car, and put us in the best position to regain track position.  There are still seven races left this year, and our BK Racing team won’t be giving up in any of them.  I’m looking forward to getting to Kansas Speedway next weekend.”

The team will look to bounce back this weekend when the Hollywood Casino 400 is next up from the Kansas Speedway for the Sprint Cup Series. The action gets underway Sunday, October 6th, at 2:00 PM EST and can be seen live on ESPN.