BEDFORD, Pa. — Aaron Reutzel’s march toward a second consecutive Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 title has been rocky at times, but the Clute, Texas-native gave open wheel fans all the reason to leave their doubts behind on Thursday night at Bedford Speedway.
Reutzel led all 30 laps around the half-mile oval to secure his series-best 11th victory.
The win, accompanied by a $5,000 payday, also allowed Reutzel to snip away at Dale Blaney’s All Star championship point lead, this time narrowing the six-time champ’s command to just 16 markers with two events remaining this weekend.
Three-time Knoxville Raceway track champion Brian Brown chased Reutzel to the checkered flag, followed by Kasey Kahne Racing’s James McFadden, Blaney and hard-charging Danny Dietrich, who rallied eight positions to find the top five.
“Hell of a run for this team,” Reutzel explained, driver of the Baughman-Reutzel Motorsports/Folkens Brothers Trucking/Fischer Body Shop/Hollywood Blasting & Coating/No. 87 sprint car. “We were great all night; unloaded with a fast hot rod. We’ve had a lot of heartbreak this year, but we always bounce back and get wins. That just goes to show what kind of a team effort we have here.”
Reutzel’s campaign from the pole encountered spressure from Brown, but not until after the midpoint of the 30-lap program. In fact, Reutzel’s lead was just over three seconds by the time the leaders received the crossed flags; it was down to less than three-quarters of second by lap 23.
A caution on lap 25 for a slowing Trey Starks, who was fourth at the time, created a momentum shift for Reutzel and served as the break that Brown needed. Unfortunately for Brown, a clear track and clean air created the perfect recipe for Reutzel, immediately blasting away to a comfortable lead.
The main event’s second and final caution occurred on the white-flag lap, this time setting up a green-white-checkered finish. Despite Brown’s attempt to capitalize, Reutzel did exactly what he did during the prior restart and quickly escaped to a comfortable advantage.
“I was happy to see that yellow, for sure,” Reutzel said. “It got to the point where I couldn’t pass the lapped cars. But I was hoping since I couldn’t pass them, I couldn’t get passed.”
“Aaron (Reutzel) was probably better than me overall,” Brown said. “I found the rubber in one and two a little bit sooner than he did which allowed us to make up some ground. I could see he was having a little bit of trouble with the lapped cars, and I was having some trouble, too, which kinda slowed my pace down. The caution was an opportunity I needed.”
Feature (30 Laps): 1. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 2. 21-Brian Brown ; 3. 9-James McFadden ; 4. 11-Dale Blaney ; 5. 48-Danny Dietrich ; 6. 26-Cory Eliason ; 7. 70-Brock Zearfoss ; 8. 17-Josh Baughman ; 9. 2M-Kerry Madsen ; 10. 24-Lucas Wolfe ; 11. 13-Paul McMahan ; 12. K4-Chad Kemenah ; 13. O7-Gerard McIntyre ; 14. 99-Skylar Gee ; 15. 55-Logan Wagner ; 16. 7K-Dan Shetler ; 17. 42-Sye Lynch ; 18. 91-Anthony Fiore ; 19. W20-Greg Wilson ; 20. 44-Trey Starks ; 21. 70X-Justin Peck ; 22. 13M-Brandon Matus ; 23. 98H-Dave Blaney ; 24. 5-Justin Barger