It all started as a joke. "One day I walked up to Ty (Ty Norris of Michael Waltrip Racing) and I said, you know, I'm The Franchise," David Reutimann, driver of the No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine said.
Reutimann said it just to be funny and to make light of the fact that he has been the "star player" on the MWR team, at least so far this season.
And since Reutimann is one of the most humble and unassuming drivers in the garage, he said it in jest simply to get a rise out of his teammates and the MWR leadership.
But his new nickname has caught on and spread in a way Reutimann never could have imagined.
In fact, everyone is now calling him "The Franchise." The team has even painted his new nickname above the race car door where Reutimann's given name traditionally had resided.
What's more, Reutimann has indeed been living up to his nickname with his performance on the track so far in the 2009 season. This past weekend at the race in Texas, Reutimann secured the pole, his second in his Cup career.
Although Reutimann experienced some pit road problems during the Samsung 500, including a penalty that put him a lap down, he rallied back to finish the race in the 11th position.
Reutimann's performance so far in the 2009 season has put him in the 11th position in points, with one top five and one top 10 finish. And if the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship was set today, Reutimann would be in the thick of it.
Other drivers have also taken notice of Reutimann's performance, suggesting his "Franchise" nickname should stick.
Tony Stewart said of Reutimann, "He's leaps and bounds further now than he was when he first got here. He's a good guy and a great driver."
Yet, in spite of his self-proclaimed "Franchise" status, Reutimann still seems not quite ready to embrace this moniker fully.
“I’m just a guy that Michael Waltrip gave an opportunity to,” Reutimann said.
Reutimann continued, talking about his boss, Michael Waltrip, “He put a guy in a Cup car that nobody knew anything about. Most people couldn’t even say my last name correctly."
"Michael gave me the freedom to screw up when I did. When I was down, he picked me back up and kept me going," said Reutimann.
Unfortunately, that sentiment truly is the crux of David Reutimann's problems. While he may say he is "The Franchise," he does not seem to quite believe it.
Reutimann must truly embrace "The Franchise" role if he is to truly be successful and excel even further in his Cup career. He needs to move from humble to cocky and truly embrace the spirit of being the best there is at Michael Waltrip Racing.
And he definitely needs to believe he is the best there ever was on the track to truly find his place in the thick of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Reutimann sums it up best: "It's really early in the season, but man it feels great to be among the top twelve in points."
He continues: "I love my team and wouldn't trade them for anything in the world."
And here is Reutimann's all-important summation: "I've just got to live up to my new nickname as 'The Franchise.'"
Yes, you do indeed David Reutimann.
Embrace it, live up to it, and be MWR's one and only true "franchise".