PORT ROYAL, Pa. — Reigning Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 champion Aaron Reutzel enjoyed the biggest payday of his career Saturday night, winning the 52nd annual Tuscarora 50 at Port Royal Speedway.
Reutzel outdueled six-time Tuscarora 50 winner Lance Dewease and held off charging Anthony Macri to bank the $52,000 top prize. He also regained the All Star point lead.
Although Reutzel’s trip to the Port Royal Speedway victory lane stage was a first feat for the defending All Star champion, the Texan is certainly no stranger to victory lane, now with 12 wins on the season, as well as 21 during a short full-time All Star career.
Macri advanced 10 positions to finish second, followed by Lance Dewease, Danny Dietrich and Logan Wagner.
“Unbelievable,” said Reutzel alongside his Baughman-Reutzel Motorsports/Folkens Brothers Trucking/Fischer Body Shop/Hollywood Blasting and Coating/No. 87 sprint car. “I’ve wanted to win this race so bad since the first time we came here. We got lapped by (Lance Dewease) that night. We were going to need a perfect race car that we could just maintain. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. This means a lot to me, to come into Pennsylvania and win one of the biggest races they have. I just don’t know what to say.”
Scheduled to start from the pole, Dale Blaney was forced to surrender his place at the front of the field due to engine issues. With Blaney’s spot vacant, fellow front row occupant Dewease inherited the pole for the start of the 50-lap program.
Utilizing his new starting spot, Dewease immediately jumped out to a commanding lead, extending his advantage to just over two seconds with only three laps checked off the counter. James McFadden slipped into second just after the opening green, followed by Alan Krimes and Reutzel.
A caution on lap four negated Dewease’s advantage just as quickly as he earned it. Despite the momentum shift, the ensuing restart allowed Dewease to resume control, now with Aaron Reutzel in tow, who drove around Alan Krimes for third on lap three before battling beyond James McFadden for second following the lap-four restart.
Not phased by Dewease’s pace after green-flag conditions returned, Reutzel did what he could to hunt down Dewease, relying on a quick, but very narrow cushion around the outer edge of the speedway. By lap 10, Reutzel cut Dewease’s command to less than a second, still relying on the highest groove on the speedway.
Traffic entered the picture for the first time on lap 12, which set the stage for Reutzel’s first bid for the lead. One circuit later, Reutzel was the new man in charge, using the top groove in turns one and two to blast around Dewease while he was hung up in slower traffic.
It would not take long for Dewease to return the favor on Reutzel, charging back to less than a car length by lap 16, all before drag racing the pilot of the No. 87 back to the flagstand on lap 19, and again on lap 20.
The race for the lead on lap 20 ended in Dewease’s favor, crossing the line a mere .02 seconds ahead of Reutzel. Dewease maintained the lead until yellow flags waved for a competition stoppage on lap 25.
After a five-minute break to allow teams to make adjustments and add fuel, green flag action returned with Dewease leading the way over Reutzel, Logan Wagner and Danny Dietrich.
Within two laps, Reutzel was back on the tailtank of Dewease, eventually setting himself up for a takeover attempt as the front runners crossed under the flagstand to complete lap 27. By the time the leaders exited turn two, it was Reutzel who was back in charge, once again utilizing the top groove through turns one and two to drive around Dewease.
Successfully pulling away, Reutzel’s only challenges during the remaining distance were periods of traffic, as well a fast-closing Macri.
“When I got by Lance, I said screw it. I’m going to give this 110%. I’m going for broke,” Reutzel continued. “We’re either going to put it in the fence or walk out of here $52,000 richer. I gave it my all and luckily it paid off. I just want to thank my guys. I really don’t know what else to say.”
Feature (50 Laps): 1. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 2. 39M-Anthony Macri ; 3. 69K-Lance Dewease ; 4. 48-Danny Dietrich ; 5. 1-Logan Wagner ; 6. 55-Mike Wagner ; 7. 5-Dylan Cisney ; 8. 51-Freddie Rahmer ; 9. 70X-Justin Peck ; 10. 26-Cory Eliason ; 11. 87k-Alan Krimes ; 12. 70-Brock Zearfoss ; 13. 44-Trey Starks ; 14. 21B-Brian Brown ; 15. 2-AJ Flick ; 16. 14T-Tyler Walton ; 17. 99-Skylar Gee ; 18. 12-Blane Heimbach ; 19. 11S-TJ Stutts ; 20. 13-Paul McMahan ; 21. W20-Greg Wilson ; 22. 14-Tony Stewart ; 23. 33-Jared Esh ; 24. 9-James McFadden ; 25. 72-Ryan Smith ; 26. 71-Gio Scelzi ; 27. 2M-Kerry Madsen ; 28. 11-Dale Blaney  Lap Leaders: Lance Dewease (1-12), Aaron Reutzel (13-19), Lance Dewease (20-27), Aaron Reutzel (28-50)