Chase leaders stall
Reutimann gets 2d career win
JOLIET, Ill. — On a night when many of the leading Chase contenders stumbled, David Reutimann blew by Jeff Gordon and cruised to victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race last night at Chicagoland Speedway.
Carl Edwards made a charge in the closing laps, cutting Reutimann’s lead to less than a second, but he had to settle for second place. Gordon was third, followed by Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray.
It was the second career victory for Reutimann, who also won at Charlotte in May 2009.
This one was much more satisfying.
“No rain tonight,’’ Reutimann said. “We earned this one. Nobody gave it to us and that feels really good.’’
And it was a relief for a driver who’d been robbed of a few potential good finishes because of engine problems earlier in the season.
“He is a class act, and a really good guy,’’ Edwards said.
Reutimann went around Gordon and took the lead on Lap 213. He moved in front again after a cycle of pit stops.
It was a rough night for several strong Chase contenders — notably Jimmie Johnson, who dominated the first half of the race but spun out and later scraped the wall to finish 25th.
Kevin Harvick entered with momentum and the points lead but struggled all night long, eventually pulling into the garage with engine problems on Lap 194. He returned and finished 34th. Greg Biffle also went to the garage with engine problems late and finished 35th.
Kyle Busch (17th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (23d), and Kurt Busch (26th) also had rough nights.
It was the 600th career start for Gordon, who said he’s beginning to feel a little old.
“I do when I get out of that race car and everything aches,’’ Gordon said. “It didn’t used to be like that.’’
Johnson, McMurray, and Tony Stewart started strong, although Stewart fell back into traffic after a jack problem during the first round of pit stops and never really made his way back into contention.
Johnson looked untouchable at times, but he made an uncharacteristic bobble when he missed the entrance to pit road on Lap 94 and nearly spun out. It didn’t hurt him much — he came back on the track in third place after finally completing a pit stop.
But Johnson was second to McMurray when he spun off the track on Lap 137 after Martin Truex Jr. closed in on his back bumper and the rear end of Johnson’s car got loose. After a pit stop, Johnson re-entered the race in 24th.
Johnson then scraped the wall with just under 100 laps left and had to make an unscheduled pit stop, relegating him to 33d.