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NASCAR SJAPS: Reutimann Ready for Next Challenge

22 January 1998

ZEPHYRHILLS, FL According to David Reutimann, the USAC Silver Crown race at Walt Disney World this past weekend was interesting and fun. Now it is time to concentrate on the 1998 NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series Championship.

Last season was his first on the NASCAR touring series and this year he is ready for even greater accomplishments. After claiming the All Pro Series, Port City Racing Rookie of the Year honors in 97, Reutimann is looking to climb to the top of the standings in 98.

We wanted to win it all last year, but came up a little short, Reutimann said. I made a few mistakes and the team made a few mistakes, but we had a good season overall.

Reutimann finished fifth overall in the NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series. Scoring eight top 10 finishes and three in the top five, one of his best runs came at Volusia County Speedway in Barberville, FL.

Wayne Anderson won the event with Reutimann finishing a close second, only .3-second behind the winner. It was the first of two runner-up finishes he claimed during his first full year on the circuit. This time when the NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series returns to the newly named Volusia Speedway Park, things will be different. During the off-season, major changes were made at the facility.

The half-mile asphalt track has been converted to a dirt track. The 3/8-mile dirt track located at the same facility has been paved, and will be the track used for the All Pro opener. We had been looking forward to going back to Volusia because we ran so well there last year, but now we dont know, Reutimann said. We were kind of disappointed with the change, but everyone will be racing under the same circumstances, so we will just have to wait and see. The Feb. 8 race at Volusia Speedway Park will kick off the 19-race NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series which will conclude Nov. 14 at Metro-Dade Homestead Motorsports complex. In between, Reutimann will face some tough competition. Last weekend, Reutimann tried his hand at racing in an open-cockpit Sprint Car. It was his first time behind the wheel of a USAC Silver Crown machine. Following the event at Walt Disney World Speedway, he expressed his enjoyment with the experience.

It was neat, Reutimann said. They were a lot of fun, but we didnt do as well as we had hoped. We fought with the handling on the car the entire time we were there, but it was a good learning experience.

Failing to make the 30-car starting field by one position through the normal qualifying procedure, Reutimann had to get into the feature by virtue of his finish in a last chance qualifying race.

The fastest 24 cars in qualifying automatically made the USAC feature race, with the remaining six spots going to the top six finishers in the 15-lap last chance race. Reutimann finished third in the qualifier and started 27th in the feature.

Reutimanns first Sprint Car race was cut short when he got together with Todd Kane on lap 23 of the 50-lap race. Kane spun on the track while Reutimann was able to make it back to his pit.

We had too much damage to finish, Reutimann said. The contact bent an axle and broke the radius rod. There wasnt enough time to get it fixed and get it back out on the track.

I think we had a top 10 car if we could have been able to finish the race. We are a little disappointed, but there were 47 cars trying to make the field, so we cant feel too bad. We made the show. We just didnt do as well as we wanted.