BUSTI, N.Y. — Dale Blaney returned to Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 victory lane for the first time in nearly three years, adding Stateline Speedway to a win list that now includes 135 series victories.
Piloting the Sam McGhee Motorsports-owned No. 11, Blaney was under immense pressure during his 30-lap trip to Stateline Speedway victory lane, first forced to deal with NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart, then defending All Star champion and current series point leader, Aaron Reutzel. To top things off, Blaney was also forced to end the program with an infamous green-white-checkered restart, ultimately persevering, crossing under the final checkers with Reutzel and Stewart in tow.
“It kinda sucks to have that happen, especially when the finish is that close,” Blaney said. “Regardless, it all worked out for us in the end. Things are getting better and better for this team right now. We’ve been changing a lot of things around on this car and I’m starting to get more and more comfortable. Hopefully we can get another one of these tomorrow night at Weedsport and head into Ohio Sprint Speedweek on a positive note.”
From the pole, Blaney led the field to green, eventually earning the initial jump over fellow front row starter, Skylar Gee, and third-starting Tony Stewart. By the time the leaders reached the flagstand for the first time, Stewart already worked his way to second, instantly setting his aim on the tail tank of Dale Blaney.
By lap seven, lapped traffic was already a factor giving Blaney the opportunity to run and hide from Stewart and now third-running Aaron Reutzel, who battled his way to third around Skylar Gee by the completion of lap three. Despite Blaney’s ability to navigate slower cars, Stewart stayed hot on his heels, eventually making a bid for the top spot as the pair raced off of turn four to complete lap 11.
A two-car battle for the lead eventually turned into a three-car battle, as Reutzel was able to chase down the lead pair to a mere-car length by lap 18. In hot pursuit of the two positions ahead, Ruetzel did everything he could to power around Stewart for second, attempting slide job after slide for the next three circuits, only to be denied with Stewart driving back underneath the Baughman-Reutzel Motorsports No. 87.
Although Stewart and Reutzel battled vigorously, the pair still managed to reel in Blaney. The Low Rider’s only saving grace was a caution on lap 21, ending a near-chaotic and exciting battle for the top-three positions.
Utilizing the ensuing single-file restart, Reutzel finally put Stewart behind him, driving underneath the three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion through the bottom of turns one and two. With second now in his control, Reutzel could finally set his aim on Blaney.
With less than two circuits remaining, Reutzel made his move, reeling Blaney in to less than a car length before attempting a bonzai slider between turns three and four. With mere inches separating himself from the outside retaining wall, as well as Reutzel’s right-rear tire, Blaney squeezed through, maintaining control as the leaders raced under the white flag.
Just as Blaney turned the final corner, yellow flags waved again, ultimately forcing a green-white-checkered restart with Reutzel and Stewart breathing down his neck.
All Star Circuit of Champions rules mandate that races be completed with two, consecutive green flag laps, thus forcing the main event’s distance to be stretched to 31 circuits. Despite the extra lap, Blaney prevailed, keeping Reutzel in his rearview mirror for the $5,000 payday.
“There wasn’t a lot of room separating myself from the outside wall,” Blaney continued. “There was probably less than a car length left, but I made it fit. Reutzel could have driven in there a little harder and really squeezed me out, but he didn’t. It just feels really, really good to get it done here tonight.”
Aaron Reutzel hung on to finish second at Stateline Speedway, followed by Stewart, Spencer Bayston and Outlaw Speedway winner Brock Zearfoss.
Feature (30 Laps): 1. 11-Dale Blaney ; 2. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 3. 14-Tony Stewart ; 4. 70X-Spencer Bayston ; 5. 70-Brock Zearfoss ; 6. 99-Skylar Gee ; 7. O7-Gerard McIntyre ; 8. 26-Cory Eliason ; 9. W20-Greg Wilson ; 10. 29-Dan Shetler ; 11. 35Z-Jared Zimbardi ; 12. 5-Justin Barger ; 13. 46-Michael Bauer ; 14. K4-Chad Kemenah ; 15. 22-Brandon Spithaler ; 16. 23-Darren Pifer ; 17. 10-Joe Kata ; 18. J4-John Garvin ; 19. 35-Tyler Esh ; 20. 13-Paul McMahan ; 21. 40-George Hobaugh ; 22. 1R-Gale Ruth Sr. ; 23. 2L-Landon Lalonde ; 24. 250-Jared McFarland  Lap Leaders: Dale Blaney (1-30)