MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — Aaron Reutzel took a major step toward a third consecutive Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions title by winning Friday night’s Jack Gunn Memorial at Williams Grove Speedway.
It was his eighth All Star win of the season.
Reutzel topped Gio Scelzi, who led the first 12 laps, by 1.515 seconds and extended his point lead to 74 on Cory Eliason with five races remaining.
“I feel like Pennsylvania, the last two years, has won me the championship,” said Reutzel, who also collected the $5,000 payday. “We come out here and run good. I’m hoping this makes it three years in a row.”
On a cool, windy night that paved the way for slick conditions and heavy usage of the bottom in the late going, Reutzel attacked early and moved low when he needed to.
Scelzi looked strong from the start of the night, winning quick-time with a lap of 16.742 and beating out eventual third-place finisher Kyle Larson by .006 for the mark. In the 30-lap feature, Scelzi cut it around pole-sitter Brian Brown to take the lead in the opening corner and raced out to a 3.4 second lead eight laps in.
But when Reutzel moved around Brown for second and as Scelzi worked the beginnings of lapped traffic, things tightened. By lap 12, Scelzi was one of the few cars who continued to work the top in turns one and two, as Reutzel had ducked to the bottom on his march to the front.
On lap 13, Reutzel drove under Scelzi off turn two for the lead.
“I just tried sitting on the bottom,” Reutzel said. “It worked out. Even when I went down there early, I didn’t think it was that good yet. But I was making some speed and catching Gio. Probably about five laps later, it started really coming in and I was really starting to make speed then. I knew the rubber was coming.”
Reutzel sensed the track would reach its limit soon, and not long after, it did. At that point, all Scelzi could do was file behind Reutzel and try to chip away at the deficit that became a full second with seven laps left.
“I was making good speed on the top and I didn’t hear anyone behind me,” Scelzi said. “I saw [the track] start getting black, and I should’ve known, when I couldn’t catch lapped cars anymore, to move down and protect. When you get out front, get around the top, carrying that much speed, you don’t want to move down. It is what it is. I’m not upset with that.”
Reutzel survived a late restart and caution for fifth-running Zeb Wise to inch closer to a third straight series title.
On a track that got tricky at the end, Larson thought he had some sort of chance at the win when he reeled in Scelzi and Reutzel.
“Sort of,” Larson said. “Got by Brown and, at that time I was fairly close to Gio, it started [taking rubber] around the bottom. I was committed to the top to clear him before I moved down. And that didn’t happen. I tried everything I could. Just came up a little short.”
Paul McMahan and Brent Marks (from 11th) rounded out the top five.
Jaremi Hanson started on the pole and won the 20-lap 305 sprint main.
Feature (30 laps): 1. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 2. 18-Gio Scelzi ; 3. 57-Kyle Larson ; 4. 13-Paul McMahan ; 5. 5-Brent Marks ; 6. 39M-Anthony Macri ; 7. 48-Danny Dietrich ; 8. 2M-Kerry Madsen ; 9. 51-Freddie Rahmer ; 10. 5C-Dylan Cisney ; 11. 17-Ian Madsen ; 12. 26-Cory Eliason ; 13. 27S-Adrian Shaffer ; 14. 91-Kyle Reinhardt ; 15. 24-Rico Abreu ; 16. 14-Tony Stewart ; 17. 1X-Chad Trout ; 18. 24w-Lucas Wolfe ; 19. 21M-Brian Montieth ; 20. 99-Skylar Gee ; 21. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss ; 22. 21-Brian Brown ; 23. 11-Zeb Wise ; 24. 1W-Matt Campbell ; 25. 11T-TJ Stutts ; 26. 55K-Robbie Kendall