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Auto Racing

Reutimann's car struggles

TBO.com The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 22, 2013 at 08:54 PM

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DOVER, Del. -

David Reutimann's winning streak ended at one.

The best week of the Zephyrhills driver's career ended with an 18th-place finish Sunday in the Sprint Cup Autism Speaks 400. Not bad, but not close to a repeat of his trip to Victory Lane last week at Lowe's Motor Speedway. He followed that by winning the pole at Dover.

"The car just kind of gave up," he said. "It started getting really, really loose on entry and there was nothing we could do to fix it. I'm really, really disappointed.

Reutimann believes he can get the No. 00 Toyota into the 12-car field for the Chase for the Championship. The 39-year-old Michael Waltrip Racing driver is within 31 points of Mark Martin for 12th place and the last spot in the Chase.

He was only six behind Martin when the race started.

"Something strange was going on with the car, and we've got to look at it because it went way bad quick and we could never get it back," Reutimann said.

Bad day for Gordon

Jeff Gordon's points lead vanished. His back ached, he hit the wall during qualifying, and his backup No. 24 Chevrolet wasn't competitive Sunday.

Gordon couldn't get out of Dover fast enough.

Gordon's 26th-place finish - two laps behind winner Jimmie Johnson - was enough to knock him 46 points back of new Cup leader Tony Stewart.

"At this point, it's not crucial," Gordon said. "I'm more disappointed that we didn't have a shot at winning the race. Those bonus points are what mean the most right now. It's important to stay in the top 12, but I don't care whether we finish eighth or first in the top 12 as long as we have the bonus points with wins."

He was never a threat to win this one, blaming a wrong adjustment during a pit stop that derailed his day.

"We made our adjustment to make the car better and we went backward, got down two laps and our day was done from that point on," Gordon said.

Gordon needed a recent injection of anti-inflammatory medication to treat his achy back, and tests revealed minor arthritis and other issues.

He drove in pain during a winless 2008 season, and said it will likely bother him the rest of the season.

"I was really sore today," Gordon said after the 400-mile race. "The best I am is when I get in the car. I'll probably be stiff later tonight and tomorrow. I'll just deal with it."

Hamlin out

Denny Hamlin's solid run came to a premature end when he blew a right-front tire and slammed hard into the wall just past the halfway point. Hamlin was running in second place behind Johnson when the No. 11 Toyota went up the banking and into the wall. He finished 36th and fell from fifth to seventh in the points standings.

"I pushed a little harder than what we had all day," Hamlin said. "If anything, we were going to be hard on the right rear, not the right front."

Hamlin said there was no warning anything was about to go wrong. "I think it's just a freak deal," he said. "The tires just blew out. It's more bad luck for the 11 team."

The Associated Press

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