BY KEITH WALTZ
David Reutimann, a second-generation short-track racer from Zephyrhills, Florida, scored one of the biggest upsets in NASCAR history when he won the 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600 on Monday, May 25, 2009, at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The crown jewel event was plagued by rain, which postponed the race from Sunday to Monday and ultimately shortened it from the scheduled 400 laps to just 227.
Reutimann, making his 76th NASCAR Cup Series start, lined up 21st in the No. 00 Toyota fielded by Michael Waltrip Racing and ran midpack for the first half of the race.
A bold gamble by crew chief Rodney Childers to stay on the race track during a lap 222 caution flag for rain proved to be the winning call. As the cars at the front of the pack headed to the pits on lap 223, Reutimann inherited the lead. The rain picked up and officials soon brought the field to pit road.
After a two hour wait as the showers continued, the race was declared official and Reutimann had earned his first NASCAR Cup Series victory without leading a green flag lap. It was also the first series win for Michael Waltrip Racing.
“What are you going to say? It certainly wasn’t the prettiest win, but somebody’s gotta win these things,” Reutimann said. “Rodney Childers made a great call and told me to stay out. … When you envision winning your first Sprint Cup Series race, you envision it a little differently, but it’s just so hard to win these deals. We’ll take ’em anyway we can get ’em.”