A marathon is defined as a long distance race, named after the fabled run of Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon in Athens. NASCAR held its own version of a marathon race this weekend in Charlotte and instead of soldier Pheidippides as victor, the marathon was won by none other than "The Franchise", David Reutimann.
NASCAR's longest race of the season was indeed a marathon, lasting over two days because of bad weather and rain in the capital city of racing. The race started on Sunday, only to be postponed until Memorial Day because of a deluge of rain and storms in the area.
On Memorial Day, the race was set to kick off at Noon. But weather was again a factor off and on during the race. The rain halted the race five different times, sometimes for brief bursts of time and others for hours on end.
NASCAR took advantage of one of the rain delays to continue to enforce its zero tolerance drug policy. More than 10 crew members were asked to visit the infield care center in order to produce samples to be tested for drug use.
Carl Edwards took a unique approach to the rain delays, ordering up a ham and cheese sandwich in an effort to quell the hunger pangs starting in his stomach due to the marathon length of the race.
One of the more bizarre occurrences during the rain break was a conversation between Tony Stewart and the ultimate race winner Reutimann. Stewart apparently had a beef with the way Reutimann was racing him hard in the early portion of the race.
During the incident, Stewart shared on his scanner that the No. 00 car should get out of his way and stop holding him up, or he would put him into the wall the next time. When the rains came, Stewart apparently felt compelled to get out of his car and go make that point in person with Reutimann.
Stewart and Reutimann seemed to be having a cordial conversation, that is until one of Reutimann's crew members decided to get into the fray. Things got a little heated and there was some ground kissing, obviously symbolic of some other kinds of kissing, involved in the interplay.
In talking about the incident to one of the media, Stewart not very affectionately named the unknown Reutimann crew member Billy Bad Butt. But in this marathon race, Billy Bad Butt was the one who ultimately had the last laugh, in Victory Lane no less.
On a more positive note, the on and off again marathon racing took one moment off that was very special.
At exactly 3:00 PM, NASCAR brought all of the cars to a stop, got all the crew members at attention up on the wall, asked all the fans to stand, and participated in the national moment of silence to remember all of those who have and are continuing to serve in our nation's military.
The cars then refired and went back to the longest race ever amidst cheers of "USA, USA, USA."
Racers know that marathons also involve pacing yourself and making key strategy calls at just the right time.
Although drivers like Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, and Brian Vickers all had the better cars for most of the race, Reutimann and his crew chief Rodney Childers made the best call ever in this stock car marathon, to stay out and gain track position when the rains came down yet again.
It was that key move in this seemingly never-ending race that gave Reutimann the win. After an almost three hour rain delay, with Reutimann and team owner Michael Waltrip standing in the rain, NASCAR finally put an end to the marathon race weekend, declaring Reutimann the victor.
Reutimann's win gave Michael Waltrip Racing its first victory ever. The win also gave Toyota its first victory in the Coca-Cola 600 race.
Greek legend says that Pheidippides ran from Athens to Sparta in his marathon, never stopping and then collapsing and dying at the end.
Thankfully, Reutimann did not suffer the same fate and, although soaked to skin, lived to tell the tell of his marathon race, celebrating with his father Buzzie and his family in Coca Cola Victory Lane.
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