Amid a flurry of last minute deals for the 2012 running of the Daytona 500, David Reutimann has announced that he will have a guaranteed grid slot, driving the #93 BK Racing Toyota Camry. The start-up team, which will also run Landon Cassill in the #83, purchased the assets of Team Red Bull over the off-season, and now take custody of the two top 35 owner's berths earned last year by Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers.
This marks a remarkable turn around in fortunes for Reutimann, who was dumped in favour of Clint Bowyer after 5 years at Michael Waltrip Racing, during which time he won the teams only two races. Although he landed on his feet with a 26-race deal to drive the Tommy Baldwin Racing #10 whenever Danica Patrick is not in the car, he was scheduled to miss Daytona. Delighted at having sealed the deal, Reutimann's relief was tangible.
“It was looking more and more that I wasn't going to get a chance to participate in the Daytona 500 and pretty much figured it would take a miracle for anything to happen to be able to work it out,” Reutimann said. “It looks like we kind of got our miracle here with what those guys are doing.
“Daytona is such a huge deal. Everyone says it pays the same amount of points and blah, blah, blah. But it's my home track and I didn't know how I was going to take sitting on the sidelines. That place is pretty special to me. I'm really excited about running that race.”
Although the team was formed very late, Reutimann is confident that the strong baseline from last year will still be in place.
“They've definitely got a late start,” he said. “But they started out with some pretty good equipment already. I feel like it will be a competitive situation. We'll just have to get down there and see what happens and get all the kinks worked out.
“It's a bunch of new guys working a situation where everything is new – a mix of a lot of different people that haven't worked together. Sometimes it will take a little time for everybody to fall in step, but when it comes to race time, I think we'll be in good shape.”
With Reutimann racing for TBR at Phoenix the week after Daytona, Travis Kvapil looks the most likely to race the #93. But Reutimann is hopeful that a more permanent deal at BK can be found when Patrick is in the #10.
“I'd love to be able to fill in the rest of the schedule of the races that I have open,” Reutimann said. “I'll worry about that later on. I'm just thrilled to have the opportunity I have right now.”
While Reutimann has a guaranteed spot in the field, veteran Bill Elliott will have to race his way into the 500 with the NEMCO Motorsports team ran by Joe Nemechek, who himself will also be attempting to qualify. Elliott, the 1988 Cup Champion, remains one of the sport's most popular drivers, having won the award a record 16 times, and will delight the fans whatever the outcome in the #97 Camry.
“I am really excited to be racing with NEMCO Motorsports and Joe Nemechek, who has been a friend and respected competitor through the years,” said Elliott. “This will be a great way to start off the 2012 NASCAR season in Daytona.”
Nemecheck was thrilled to add the star name, popularly known as 'Awesome Bill from Dawsonville' to his fledgling operation,
“This is a great and fun moment in racing for us at NEMCO Motorsports,” Joe Nemechek said. “We believe the talent and skill of Bill will steer the 97 car to a great showing for us and I am excited to be racing right along with him, this time on the same team.”