Photo: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

Throwback Thursday Theater – Battle of David vs. Goliath at Chicago

By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor

As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Chicagoland Speedway for this weekend’s opening round of the playoffs, it’s time again for another edition of “Throwback Thursday Theater”. Since Chicago has only been on the schedule since 2001, there are few races that really stick out in the track’s history, but one in particular sticks out above the rest. That race is the 2010 400, which saw a multi-time champion get bested by an underdog.

Jimmie Johnson started on the outside of the front row, but jumped out to the early lead over pole-sitter Jamie McMurray, leading the first 92 laps of the race. McMurray ran right in Johnson’s tracks through that first opening segment though, and was able to get by and into the lead on lap 93. McMurray would keep his No. 1 car up front for the next 72 laps, but it was what happened during that segment that helped change the outcome of the race.

As Johnson was battling with Martin Truex, Jr. down the backstretch on lap 138, the two tangled, sending Johnson for a spin through the grass. Johnson was able to keep going at that point, but would later cut a tire and get into the wall, causing enough damage to send the No. 48 car to pit road for repairs, ending his hopes of his first Chicagoland win.

Meanwhile, Jeff Gordon had taken the lead from McMurray and stayed up front for a 36 lap segment before underdog David Reutimann inserted himself into the race picture, taking the lead from Gordon before Gordon got it right back one lap later.

Just prior to Gordon and Reutimann swapping the lead for the first time came the one major wreck of the night after Bill Elliott spun in Turn 4 on lap 180. As he was stopped broadside on the track, Robby Gordon came into the turn too hot and jammed on the brakes and slid right into the side of Elliott’s car, causing severe damage to both and sending both cars to the garage.

Reutimann was not about to give up on scoring his second career race win as he powered right back to the front of the field 11 laps later.

Through the final round of green flag pit stops, Reutimann cycled back to the race lead with Carl Edwards in second and Gordon in third and Reutimann drove like a man on a mission as he would lead the final 32 laps en route to his second career win in the Cup Series by a margin of .727 seconds over Edwards.

When he crossed the finish line, Reutimann’s crew chief, Rodney Childers, came over the radio to say: “That’s all you, D. Reut! Hell yeah guy! That’s what I’m talking about! It’s all you man, you deserve that. It’s all you.”

Reutimann scored his first win courtesy of Mother Nature at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2009, but this win was all car and driver and Reutimann was sure to make that known in victory lane.

“First of all, I’ve got to thank all of the fans and everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing,” said Reutimann. “Everybody did such a great job today. Toyota Racing Development, having Tums on the car this weekend. It’s just been a great weekend. Man, I’ll tell you, I don’t even know what to say. Probably the lamest burnout ever seen at this race track, I was tearing up pretty bad. I want to thank all of my guys, everybody did a great job and no rain tonight…we earned this one. Nobody gave it to us and that feels really good.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.