CONCORD, N.C. - It took 75 races and three rain delays for David Reutimann to earn his first Sprint Cup Series victory.
When a fluke finally put him in position for a win in Monday's rain-delayed Coca-Cola 600, the journeyman driver nervously paced around his car on pit road at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Two hours later, he was declared the winner of one of NASCAR's crown jewel events when the race was stopped once and for all.
'It wasn't the prettiest win, but somebody has to win,' he said. 'When you envision yourself winning your first Sprint Cup race, you envision it different. But it's so hard to win these deals, we'll take it any way we can.'
Reutimann didn't lead a single lap under green-flag racing. He had a mid-pack car as teams jockeyed for position just past the halfway point of the gloomy race, which was washed out on Sunday and carried over to Monday for the first Memorial Day running in its 50-year history.
Because the radar showed a long night of intermittent showers, no one believed the longest race on the NASCAR schedule would go the full 600 miles. So began the game of racing to the front in hopes of being in the right place when the event was finally called.
When rain brought out the caution 22 laps past the halfway point, leader Kyle Busch led a parade of cars down pit road. But Reutimann, Ryan Newman and Robby Gordon didn't follow, and the three moved to the top of the leaderboard.
They led the field for five laps under caution before NASCAR called the cars back to pit road for the third rain stoppage. Most drivers headed to their motorhomes to wait out the rain.
He was joined at his car by his 68-year-old father, Buzzie, a racer with one career NASCAR start who still tears it up in dirt track events at East Bay Raceway near Tampa, Fla. The two didn't bother with an umbrella as they stood in a steady drizzle for just over 2 hours.
'The fact he's here - we always talk about the fact we were going to mess around and win one of these and he wasn't going to be here,' Reutimann said. 'Fortunately, whether the Truck Series or Nationwide Series or now in the Cup series, he's been here for all of them.'
Reutimann's other NASCAR victories were a 2007 Nationwide race at Memphis and a 2005 Truck race at Nashville.
Newman, the pole-sitter, finished second and Gordon was third. Carl Edwards, who had changed into street clothes by the time the race was called, finished fourth, followed by Brian Vickers and Busch.
Reutimann, 39, didn't get his break in the Cup series until Michael Waltrip hired him in 2007 when he formed his own race team. But Michael Waltrip Racing was terrible, and Reutimann was not competitive as he struggled to even make races.
The team has made small strides in the past 2-plus seasons, and Reutimann has carried the banner. He's lingered around the top 12 in points all season and has given MWR credibility.
Now he's made MWR the first Toyota team other than Joe Gibbs Racing to win a Cup race.