This weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, names like Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson are being thrown around as the ones to beat.
But when looking at the statistics, don't count out David Reutimann, driver of the No. 00 TUMS Toyota Camry for Michael Waltrip Racing.
Although in 2009 Reutimann only had one win, he currently has the longest streak of races without a DNF at 43. He is also one of only three drivers to have finished every point race in 2009.
At least year's race at LVMS, he qualified fourth and finished in the same spot, which earned him his nickname “The Franchise,” which has stuck until this day.
So what does “The Franchise” think of the track he will run on this weekend?
With a bad first few experiences at the track, he didn't like it previous to last year's top-five finish.
“I wasn't a big fan of the track to begin with, but now I'm really looking forward to going back. It's strange how one race can change that.”
His opinion may change again, however, having qualified 17th today, -.382 behind pole-sitter Kurt Busch. Reutimann said his TUMS Toyota Camry is really good but they never got to do qualify runs.
“The car revved good. It started similar to where we finished up last year and worked on it, kind of refined it a little bit,” he said of his car before they qualified it. “We didn't get a chance to run our qualifying lap in the way we needed to and suffered a little bit because of it, hence why I'm aggravated. One thing leads to another, leads to another...”
Since Reutimann has been here many times before, he is familiar with the track before it added progressive banking.
He said now the track is weathered and has some laps on it, while before it was just fast with a lot of grip, making them need a hard tire. But thankfully, he said, the track has aged well.
“It has some more races on it and the grooves have widened out. Goodyear continues to refine their tire and bring a better tire back every time we've been here and they've done a lot of tire testing here,” he said of the growth of the track.
“I think all in all, it's a combination of the track getting better, us getting a little bit better handle on the cars, and Goodyear constantly refining their tires.I think it's still a very tricky race track—a very fast race track—still but it's not as an extreme of a race track it was when we first started coming here.”
Another factor in rooting for Reutimann? Over the last 10 races on NASCAR's 1.5 mile racetracks, Reutimann is second in total points to Jeff Gordon. His statistics at those tracks include one win, two top-fives, four top-10s, two poles, led 51 laps, and has an 11th average finish.
After the first two races of 2010, Reutimann is eighth in points, the highest of all MWR drivers.
This weekend he will also be one of give DirectTV HotPass drivers on DirectTV channels 795-798.
The Shelby American GT 350 airs on FOX at 11 AM on Sunday, Feb. 28.
Photo Courtesy: Farrah Kaye