Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Three David's Battling NASCAR's Goliath

Three David's, all battling the Goliath of racing at NASCAR's pinnacle. David Ragan, David Reutimann, and David Gilliland. In their first year, they were all vilified by their more experienced peers, but are now earning respect in the garage. They all have some very strong similarities, going far beyond the common first names.

Family Legacy - Each David comes from a family rich in racing heritage.

  • David Ragan's father, Ken, had 50 Cup race starts over a career spanning 8 years. His best finish was 11th at Talladega in 1984. He also managed 600 Racing, the Harrisburg plant that produces Legends, Bandoleros and Thunder Roadsters.
  • David Gilliland's father Butch is also well-known on the short track, but his history is primarily West Coast. Winner of the 1997 Winston West Championship, Butch also raced 12 Craftsman Truck races and 10 Races at the Winston Cup level.
  • David Reutimann's father is known to the world as Buzzie. Buzzie is shown as having only raced in one 'Grand National' race back in 1963, but that was a top ten finish! He is best known for his hard-charging style on the short tracks. There are four generations of racers in the Reutimann family.

The history of the David's:

  • Ragan worked in the shop of Dash series driver Cam Strader, and also prepared the late model cars that he was to drive in 2002. Ragan worked countless hours preparing the cars that Strader would race to the 2001 series Championship.
  • Gilliland grew up working on the cars owned by his father. Indeed, at the age of 20, Gilliland was awarded the Champion Crew Chief of the Year award after his father became the 1997 NASCAR Winston West Champion.
  • Reutimann's whole family history is nothing but working on cars. Generations have raced out of the Zephryhills Florida garage, where the 4th generation is now hitting the tracks.

As much as they are similar, there are also some noticeable differences.

Ragan is the youngster of the group. Born in 1985, he is certainly the youngest when stacked up to Reutimann' age of 38 and Gilliland's 32 years.

How they got started:

  • After a handful of races in the upper levels, Ragan was able to snag a ride through Jack Roush's driver tests.
  • After spending several competitive years in the late model series on the West Coast, Gilliland entered just a couple of truck races, and a limited Busch schedule, before he snatched the checkered flag at Kentucky, thereby catapulting him into the Robert Yates ride.
  • Reutimann worked his way up from Late models, then drove a handful of Busch series races before driving for Darrell Waltrip in the Truck series. That most certainly opened the door into his ride for Darrell's brother Michael, where he is currently driving both the Nationwide and the Sprint Cup series.

Their current Cup rides:
  • Ragan is driving the #6 car for Roush-Fenway Racing. He sits 17th in the points.
  • Gilliland is driving in the newly rebuilt Yates Racing #38 ride, and is sitting 22nd in the points.
  • Reutimann is driving the #44 car for Michael Waltrip Racing. He is currently at 27th in the points.

Crew Chiefs
  • Ragan - 20 year veteran Jimmy Fennig
  • Gilliland - 1st year Cup CC, one year in Busch as a Crew Chief, Cully Barraclough
  • Reutimann - 11 year Cup veteran Ryan Pemberton

  • Ragan- state of the art from Roush-Fenway Racing
  • Gilliland-struggled last year in equipment that was not drivable by even the likes of team mate Ricky Rudd. Now working the the equivalent of a start-up organization, running partly unsponsored. Yates Racing is buying cars and services from Roush-Fenway.
  • Reutimann-struggling last year, not only in a start up team, but the first year for the Toyota first year attempt in NASCAR.

All three drivers are talented. All three are being noted as up and coming drivers. And all three have shown marked improvement in the last year. All three, eventually, will show that they can compete on equal footing with the Goliath's of NASCAR. It will be worth watching how their careers progress.


okla21fan said...

Which DAVE has the Toni??????

Anonymous said...

Crew Chief Cully Barraclough was a a Busch (Nationwide) crew chief for several years. See his bio on yatesracing.com. :)