She’s baaaaack, or at least she will be come Saturday night at Darlington (S.C.). Who, you ask? Why, Danica Patrack, of course. Patrick is slated to climb back behind the wheel of the No. 10 Sprint Cup Series entry of Tommy Baldwin Racing — or in this case, Stewart-Haas Racing when you really get down to it — for Saturday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at the track.
Patrick has been racing full-time in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series this year, while somewhat sparingly running at the Sprint Cup level. Meanwhile, the No. 10 has been racing full-time in the Cup Series with David Reutimann behind the wheel when Patrick’s not in the car. Of course, when Reutimann’s in the car, it truly is a somewhat underfunded Tommy Baldwin Racing entry. And it seems like the driver who was full-time in the Sprint Cup Series last year in a car for Michael Waltrip Racing has had his career reduced to simply being the driver with the task of keeping the No. 10 in the top-35 in owner points so that NASCAR’s newest media darling won’t have to worry about qualifying on Friday (or Saturday some race weekends).
This weekend at Darlington, Reutimann’s relegated to the sidelines as Patrick and the big Stewart-Haas Racing money rolls in and joins the No. 10 efforts. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like Reutimann’s getting the short end of the stick here.
After all, the burden is on Reutimann to keep the car in the top-35, and the car he’s trying to keep in “locked-in” position isn’t the same quality of equipment Patrick is provided with — no offense intended towarded Tommy Baldwin Racing. The Reutimann No. 10 is somewhat underfunded with limited sponsorship. Meanwhile, SHR seems to throw money at it when its Patrick’s turn to drive the car. Patrick’s No. 10 rides are prepared by Stewart-Haas, by the same folks who build cars for car owner Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, you know, the people who built the cars that carried Stewart to the 2011 Sprint Cup title.
As for Reutimann’s No. 10 cars? They’re built by the less-wealthy Tommy Baldwin Racing organization. Then add to that the fact that Reutimann has been relegated to the role of somewhat unwanted stepchild (when compared to Patrick) who is expected to do the lion’s share of work to keep the No. 10 in the top-35 so that the “favorite” of this family don’t have to worry about such tedious details as getting the car in the race.
Is Reutimann bitter about the situation? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t really blame him if he is. To me, Reutimann’s 2012 situation is like the whole “heir and a spare thing.” What do I mean by that. In Britain’s royal family, when Prince William and Prince Harry were growing up, William was the heir and Harry was merely the spare in the Prince Charles/Princess Diana union. While Reutimann is in the No. 10 more than Patrick, Patrick seems to be the “heir” with Reutimann being her “spare.” Just doesn’t seem fair, does it?
That’s not to say that I think TBR was in the wrong when it entered into its partnership with SHR. The organization needs money, and Stewart-Haas Racing was willing to pony it up to get Patrick a part-time Sprint Cup Series ride. So I guess Reutimann’s situation is just a part of the beast of the business side of racing, but I still can’t help but feel for the guy.
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