Nascar Weekly News and Notes – 3/27/08

Nascar Weekly News and Notes
by Virginia Vroom of

This weekend marks a date to be remembered in the archives of NASCAR drivers. This is because this weekend, David Reutimann will be stepping into the shoes of Dale Jarrett for good. Jarretts last race came the weekend of Bristol. He raced the first five races of the season because he was guaranteed a spot based on Champions provisional should he not be able to qualify on time. Needless to say, its a bit of a sad day to see the original drivers taking a back seat to all of the new guys.

Its a new generation of NASCAR drivers. Undeniably, this is one of the most talented groups of drivers that weve ever seen as a whole. It is weird, though, watching the switch from one generation to the next before your own eyes. Think back to the 50s, 60s, and 70s when guys like Cale Yarborough and Richard Petty were racing full time. The greats are still around, but there is a new group of greats coming forward. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, and even Dale Earnhardt Jr. have earned a place in the greatest racecar drivers of all time now. Soon enough, we will be seeing their retirement papers coming in!

As we watch the veteran drivers rein coming to an end, we have to speculate about the talent that is going to replace them. In todays racing world, there are development drivers and young guys groomed from very early ages to take over the spots of the veterans like Dale Jarrett. When the Yarboroughs of the racing world retired, there was no one there to step in their shoes. Quite frankly, I think anybody would be scared to try and match the record that some of these drivers made over the years. David Reutimann seems up to the challenge though. Although he is still what we would call new to the Cup circuit, Reutimann has proven time and time again that the potential is there. He credits Jarrett with much of his success and knowledge and is wearier of Jarrett not being around than about taking over the car.

Reutimann has some pretty big shoes to fill. Dale Jarrett has a total of 668 starts with an average finish of 17.2. He won a Cup Championship back in 1999. Jarrett also has 32 wins with 260 top tens and 163 top fives. Hes been racing since 1975, so he has seen the greatest drivers in NASCAR, driven with the best, and also seen the extensive changes of the cars take place throughout his years. Reutimann is sure to have a great teacher is Jarrett remains in touch and around the track (as I assume that he would). Once a racer, always a racer. There is no way that Jarrett would just up and leave, leaving poor Reutimann to fend for himself.

Reutimann starts his career in the #44 UPS Toyota on one of his worst tracks. Reutimann is also quick to admit this. He wants to improve his record in Martinsville and hopes that the new car will be that boost that he needs. He claims to have Jarretts cell phone and home phone number on hand should he ever need to make an emergency call for one of those tricky racing problems.

I expect to see Reutimann improve over the coming years. He has success in both the Craftsman Truck Series and in the Nationwide Series and will more than likely have some success in the Cup series in the not too far future.