GIBSONTON, Fla. — The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series made its first stop at East Bay Raceway Park in 38 years Saturday night, with three-time All Star Circuit of Champions titlist Aaron Reutzel taking the checkered flag.
Reutzel grabbed his third World of Outlaws victory and first of the season while inspired by fellow Texan, sprint car racing legend Gary Wright.
“I dream for stuff like that,” Reutzel exclaimed. “This is what makes me love sprint car racing, when we can go out and do stuff like that. The cushion was so treacherous, but my car was loose enough that I could go up there and just get after it. It was so much fun. Running up there was a blast. I watched a video on the way up here of Gary Wright, my all-time sprint car hero, winning here doing the same thing, ripping four tires above it.”
For a show that was in serious jeopardy to start with a bleak weather forecast, Saturday’s program ended up being one many fans won’t forget soon.
Lining up for the 35-lap, $10,000-to-win feature, it’s safe to say the betting favorites were two-time and defending Series champion Brad Sweet from the pole and 10-time series champion Donny Schatz from the second row. However, Reutzel had something to say about that.
Reutzel, who started on the outside pole in his Speedway Engines / Triple-X No. 83, ripped the top right around Sweet and commanded the opening lap, a lead he would never relinquish. Both Schatz and Sweet presented multiple challenges to Reutzel, but neither could make a move stick, partly due to Reutzel’s bold decision making.
Putting all four wheels above the cushion and flying through the fluff, Reutzel went where others wouldn’t dare, and it paid off. With cleaner track and more avenues available up in no man’s land, he made quick work of lap traffic which served as the deciding factor when Sweet ran into a log jam on the low line while challenging him with less than ten laps left.
In his fourth start as a full-time World of Outlaws competitor, Reutzel held off Sweet and Schatz along with title contenders Macedo and Schuchart. He crossed the line with a 1.683-second advantage, making him the fourth different winner in four races this season.
“I can’t thank Dennis and Teresa Roth enough for this opportunity,” Reutzel said. “We’ve been struggling, but we’ve been working really hard to prove to them they made the right decision by bringing me and Dylan on board. Hopefully, we made ’em proud today.”
Following Reutzel to the stripe with a second-place finish was Sweet. Following a dismal 11th-place outing in Friday’s show at Volusia, the Kasey Kahne Racing No. 49 crew was happy to put their NAPA Auto Parts entry back on the podium with a shot at winning.
“Track position was the biggest thing tonight,” Sweet noted. “The fact that he had that line up his sleeve was huge. When we got to traffic he basically had a clean track up there. My car was really good on the race track I thought we were racing on, but he found another lane so hats off to him. We were way too tight to be up there.”
Closing out the podium and scoring KSE Racing Hard Charger honors for the second straight night was Carson Macedo with an impressive 17th-to-third bid.
“Again, my race car was just incredible in the feature,” Macedo praised. “It just got better and better as the race went on. I’ve got to figure out qualifying and heats so we can get up closer to the front come showtime. I’m having so much fun driving this No. 41 right now. Carrying on Jason’s legacy with this car and now Phil as involved as he is, it’s a special deal.”
To see full results, turn to the next page.