JEFFERSON, S.D. — Austin McCarl accomplished the near-impossible on Saturday night at Park Jefferson Int’l Speedway, holding off two-time and defending All Star champion Aaron Reutzel for his first Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions victory.
McCarl earned $6,900 in the event that was co-sanctioned by the Bumper-to-Bumper IRA Sprint Car Series.
Ending with a final margin of victory equaling a fraction of a second, McCarl and Reutzel’s battle for the lead was relentless, exchanging command lap after lap, and sometimes multiple times a lap, during a wild trek through traffic over the final eight circuits.
Even the final lap was a barn burner with Reutzel leading the duo down the backstretch and into turn three. Although Reutzel did his best to protect the bottom and shut down any last-ditch effort by McCarl to regain control, the attempt failed, as McCarl was able to maneuver under Reutzel, giving him a slight “kiss” to the inside nerf bar before beating the current All Star championship points leader back to the flagstand.
“I was just trying to beat Aaron (Reutzel),” said McCarl, who kicked off the evening with a heat race and dash victory aboard his TMAC Motorsports No. 17a. “I was just trying to run my own race and do what was best for my car. The bottom was better for me, but he was better than me moving up around guys. The bottom was so good there that I was just trying to hit my marks and get guys going down the straightaway and into the corner when they got tight. I just can’t thank my family and supporters enough. To get my first All Star win with my sponsors here, and everyone watching at home, it’s a night I’ll never forget.”
Starting from the pole, Tony Stewart led the first six circuits before Rudeen Racing’s Cory Eliason slipped underneath the three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion to lead lap seven.
By lap 10, Eliason and Stewart found themselves swallowed up in slower cars, eventually allowing Stewart to close in on Eliason and regain command on lap 13.
Unfortunately for Eliason, a tangle with traffic on lap 14 ended his attempt to regain the top spot, eventually spinning to a stop between turns three and four.
McCarl, who was racing just behind the top-two at the time of the caution, utilized the ensuing restart to slip by Stewart to officially lead lap 14. Reutzel, who started eighth on the feature grid, followed McCarl by Stewart to take second on lap 15.
An onslaught of slower traffic on lap 18 allowed Reutzel to close in on McCarl, ultimately igniting a fierce battle between the two frontrunners.
Buzzing the topside, Reutzel drove around McCarl to lead lap 20, only to be denied by McCarl the following circuit with a bold move in turns three and four to complete lap 21.
Two circuits later, Reutzel was back on top, desperately trying to separate himself from McCarl with only two laps to navigate.
Determined to beat the two-time champ, McCarl quickly persevered, slipping underneath Reutzel to lead lap 24, all before the aforementioned “kiss and run” in the final corner on lap 25.
“It was pretty wild there between Aaron and I in traffic,” McCarl continued. “I saw the white flag and he got around me in one. He did a really good job to open up on me coming out of two and chopping me in turns three and four. He just barely left the door open a little bit and I just kinda stuck my nose in there and gave him a little kiss. I was just trying to win the race and I don’t think it was anything Aaron Reutzel wouldn’t have done. I have a ton of respect for him and his team. They are doing a great job.”
Feature (25 Laps): 1. 17A-Austin McCarl ; 2. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 3. 48-Danny Dietrich ; 4. 14-Tony Stewart ; 5. 13-Paul McMahan ; 6. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss ; 7. O9-Matt Juhl ; 8. 70-Justin Peck ; 9. 3-Tim Kaeding ; 10. 11-Zeb Wise ; 11. 2KS-Chad Boespflug ; 12. 7-Justin Henderson ; 13. W20-Greg Wilson ; 14. 4-Terry McCarl ; 15. 55-Hunter Schuerenberg ; 16. 22-Cole Duncan ; 17. 73-Jake Blackhurst ; 18. 88-Kyle Offill ; 19. 44-Trey Starks ; 20. 17B-Bill Balog ; 21. 2W-Scotty Neitzel ; 22. 99-Skylar Gee ; 23. 44M-Chris Martin ; 24. 35-Skylar Prochaska ; 25. 5J-Jeremy Schultz ; 26. 17-Josh Baughman ; 27. 26-Cory Eliason  Lap Leaders: Tony Stewart (1-6), Cory Eliason (7-12), Tony Stewart (13), Austin McCarl (14-19), Aaron Reutzel (20), Austin McCarl (21, 22), Aaron Reutzel (23), Austin McCarl (24, 25)