In this year's first stop at California Speedway six months ago, Zephyrhills' David Reutimann got clipped by Greg Biffle and redirected into the outside wall at 180 mph. It was the worst crash of his career, although he suffered only bruising and soreness. In this week's edition of his rookie diary, Reutimann says he looks forward to this weekend's visit to the Los Angeles-area track for Nextel Cup and Busch Series races.
I'll be surprised if the crash even crosses my mind, although I'm sure I'll be asked about it a lot this weekend. That was the second race of the season, and a lot has happened since then. I'll just get in the car, leave pit road and drive into the turn as hard as I can. As a driver, you're there to get into the show, and the only thing you can think about is making the car go faster.
Almost forgotten is that we had a decent run going in that California race. Our goal was to finish in the top 20 since it was only our second race, and we were well on the way to that in the late going when we had the wreck.
The Toyotas have run well this year at Michigan, and Michigan is similar to California in size (two miles) and configuration. They aren't as similar as some people might think - California is much slicker, and that will be accentuated even further by the high temperatures this weekend - but they're pretty close. That gives us hope we can go in there and get a good result.
I've found California to be pretty challenging at times, but I did get a pole and a fourth-place finish there in the Craftsman Truck Series last year.
Not making the Nextel Cup race at Bristol last weekend was a huge disappointment. I thought the car was pretty decent when we rolled it off the trailer, but we got an early draw for qualifying, and there was no grip whatsoever.
On the positive side, we led 33 laps and finished third in the Busch race at Bristol. I really thought we had a chance to win up until the last lap. We were a little tight with our last set of tires, and that might have been the difference.
We tested some of our Car of Tomorrow stuff early this week at Memphis, trying to get ready for next week's race at Richmond. We found some stuff, and I think we'll be better at Richmond than we were there in May.
Nextel Cup rookie standings: 1. Juan Pablo Montoya 216; 2. David Ragan 191; 3. Paul Menard 173; 4. David Reutimann 145; 5. A.J. Allmendinger 89.