Reutzel Holds Off ASCS Champion Hafertepe

To win season finale at Arizona's Cocopah Speedway

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Aaron Reutzel in victory lane Saturday night at Cocopah Speedway. (ASCS / Randy Hoeft Photo)
Aaron Reutzel in victory lane Saturday night at Cocopah Speedway. (ASCS / Randy Hoeft Photo)

SOMERTON, Ariz. — Aaron Reutzel held off Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by the MAVTV Motorsports Network champion Sam Hafertepe Jr. to win the season finale for the series Saturday at Cocopah Speedway.

“I kind of had a feeling the bottom was going to come in, but I didn’t want to abort what I’d been doing so well,” Reutzel said. “All that was left was the fence. You can go look at it, it’s just pure wall so it was tough.

“I wanted to go to the bottom on the that restart, but I just decided to go back to the top and see if Sam showed us something and figured I could get back in but I just wasn’t as good on the bottom, and I figured, last race of the season with the national tour; I would rather flip out of the park, than run second.”

Reutzel started third and rode the cushion into the lead on the seventh lap.

Leading one more lap before relinquishing the top spot to Hafertepe who returned the slide in kind on the ninth round, Reutzel answered with a slide job of his own the following revolution.

Chasing down the tail of the field, Hafertepe was on the heels of the Dissolvalloy No. 87. Working the top and bottom groove as needed, Sam’s run on the No. 87 would begin to wane, but a caution on lap 21 would bring the No. 15h back into the hunt.

Restarting with a slower car between them, Hafertepe made quick work of the lapped car. Committing to the bottom side of the Cocopah Speedway, Hafertepe and Reutzel were a near even match as Hafertepe worked under the No. 87 on lap 22. Forcing Aaron off the cushion to block, Hafertepe rolled the center of turns one and two to lead lap 23.

Returning to the cushion with a big run, Reutzel all but rode the wall around the Cocopah Speedway to regain the lead on lap 24. He went on to win by 0.495 seconds.

“Everyone was struggling on the cushion, but Aaron was able to manipulate it better than anyone else, and that’s way he won this race,” Hafertepe said. “That’s the kind of track he’s really good at, where it’s not really my forte. I’m more of a finesse guy and we get our car pretty tight, so it’s hard to really lean a curb like that but to get back by him there late, I thought we had him dead to rights but he kept digging and deserves the win.”

Jason Solwold picked up his second podium of the weekend in the Scottie Pluming No. 18 with Johnny Herrera and Seth Bergman completing the top five.

Hafertepe is the 12th different driver to earn a Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour Championship since 1992.

“We wanted to win this race really bad, and you could see that in how hard we were racing, but Aaron is a damn good,” commented Hafertepe. “To get the championship, we’re very happy. We knew we had it locked up coming in, but we still wanted to post two strong runs to end the year. End out with a pair of bad runs, it kills your confidence at the start of the next season so we definitely wanted to end it strong like we did.”

The finish:

Aaron Reutzel, Sam Hafertepe Jr., Jason Solwold, Johnny Herrera, Seth Bergman, Ryan Smith, Blake Hahn, Dominic Scelzi, Mason Moore, Colby Copeland, D.J. Netto, Roger Crockett, Wayne Johnson, Logan Forler, Michael Kofoid, Chase Goetz, Cory Eliason, Thomas Kenedy, Matt Covington, James Mosher, Lance Norick, Reece Goetz, Kyle Bellm, Rick Ziehl.