SELINSGROVE, Pa. – Standing in victory lane Sunday at Selinsgrove Speedway, Kyle Reinhardt tried to process everything over the past 24 hours that led to his triumph.
However, sheer ecstasy simply overwhelmed his moment of reflection.
Since COVID-19 put the racing scene on hold in Pennsylvania, Reinhardt set out for a World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series swing in Missouri.
Reinhardt then decided at 11 p.m. CT Saturday night, after a 19th-place finish with the world’s finest sprint car drivers and nearly 1,000 miles from home at Lake Ozark Speedway, it was time to head back and race at 7 p.m. ET the next night at Selinsgrove.
One 15-hour tow, two hours of sleep, a whole lot of coffee, and 14 minutes of adrenaline-packed racing later, Reinhardt parked his car in the winner’s circle, leading 20 of 25 laps to win Sunday’s $4,000-to-win feature at Selinsgrove.
It marked Reinhardt’s first-ever 410 sprint car win at the half-mile speedway.
“It’s been a dream to win a 410 race here,” Reinhardt said in victory lane. “And it finally came true.”
Reinhardt started the feature second behind Freddie Rahmer, who set fast time in qualifying and looked quick early on, leading the opening five laps. On a lap-two restart, Reinhardt tried throwing a slide-job on Rahmer as the two barreled into turn one, but it didn’t stick.
The following restart on lap five, however, Reinhardt tried the same tactic, and after he and Rahmer traded slide jobs for three corners Reinhardt cleared him for good off turn four on lap six.
“When there’s a good car like Freddie out front, you can’t let him get away,” Reinhardt said of his aggressive maneuvers early on.
Three laps after Reinhardt passed Rahmer, his lead stretched to 1.5 seconds and by the halfway mark it grew to 2.2 seconds.
With five laps to go, Reinhardt’s advantage ballooned to 4.3 seconds before Ryan Smith charged late to finish second from sixth, 1.599 seconds behind.
Steve Buckwalter finished third, marking his second podium finish over the past week and third top six in as many races. Blane Heimbach and Chad Layton rounded out the top five.
Logan Wagner, Rahmer, Dylan Cisney, Kyle Moody, and Lucas Wolfe filled out the top 10.
Non-winged sprint car ace and former USAC champion Robert Ballou crossed in 16th.
While Reinhardt marched to victory without much resistance, circumstances only a few hours prior were polar opposite.
After a 15-hour haul from Eldon, Missouri that had only one, nine-minute fuel stop along the way, Reinhardt and team arrived at Selinsgrove Speedway at 3:30 p.m., with only an hour and a half to work on the car.
“I was in full stress mode,” Reinhardt said.
Somehow, though, it all worked out, and despite a mid-pack pill draw, Reinhardt timed eighth in time trials. It landed him on the pole in the first heat because of the Pennsylvania Speedweek format, where time trials start the night, but instead of an invert, the fastest driver in each heat starts fourth.
The rest of the heat lineup is determined by time. Heat winners and the fastest driver in their respective heats go to the redraw.
Reinhardt cruised to a heat win and drew the second starting spot. From there, the rest was history, even on just 120 minutes of sleep.
“Everyone I know just gets into a different world when you’re out there,” Reinhardt said. “Your adrenaline is so high it (lack of sleep) doesn’t even matter. You could be up for a week straight and it wouldn’t matter.”
Just that morning, at 7:30 a.m. somewhere in Ohio and as Reinhardt slouched over the wheel having driven for five hours through the night, he thought to himself, “What the hell are we doing?”
Later that evening, though, near regret turned into something far greater: ecstasy and memories sure to last a lifetime.
“We’re sitting here right now,” Reinhardt started, his eyes bloodshot and splotches of dirt caked on his face, “and it’s all worth it.”
Kyle Reinhardt, Ryan Smith, Steve Buckwalter, Blane Heimbach, Chad Layton, Logan Wagner, Freddie Rahmer, Dylan Cisney, Kyle Moody, Lucas Wolfe, Ryan Taylor, Kody Lehman, TJ Stutts, Chase Dietz, Jordan Ryan, Robert Ballou, Mike Walter II, Ryan Watt, Rick Lafferty, Ed Aiken, Davie Franek, Bradley Howard, Anthony Fiore, Tanner Brown.