SYLVANIA, Ga. — Three-time All Star Circuit of Champions titlist Aaron Reutzel picked up right where he left off last year, maneuvering his way back to victory lane and earning a $10,000 payday in Saturday’s Winter Freeze finale at Screven Motor Speedway.
The Clute, Texas, native earned his triumph from the outside of row two, forced to outduel Sheldon Haudenschild, all before fending off a late charge by Kyle Reinhardt. The Sugarlands Shine Southern Tour presented by Elliott’s Custom Trailers and Carts victory bumped Reutzel’s All Star win total to 37.
“I can’t thank the entire Roth Motorsports team enough for allowing Dylan (Buswell) and I to come on board and bring our package with us. They took a big risk and we appreciate everything they’ve done for us,” Reutzel said. “We struggled a little bit in Arizona, but we took some time during the week to think about some things. We made a few fine changes and now I feel right at home. Everyone has done such a great job and I can’t say how excited I am enough.”
Haudenschild was the early leader, forced to withstand a caution on the initial start, as well as an ensuing red-flag incident, all before the main event could officially get underway. It did not take long for Haudenschild to escape to a lengthy advantage, stretching his gap over KCP Racing’s Gio Scelzi to a near-straightaway by lap 15.
It was at that time when Reutzel started to come alive on the bottom of the speedway, first working by Scelzi for the runner-up spot on lap 18.
Caution flags appeared again on lap 20 setting up a single file restart with Reutzel on the tail tank of Haudenschild. Keeping his focus on the bottom of the speedway, Reutzel stalked Haudenschild for four circuits, eventually making his move on lap 24 when the Stenhouse Jr Marshall Racing entry slipped up the track allowing Reutzel to squeeze through.
Despite a few desperate attempts to regain the top spot, Haudenshild would eventually succumb to his own aggressiveness, spinning to a stop on lap 28.
Reutzel drove on to clinch the $10,000 payday, surviving one final caution on lap 33 and late pressure from Reinhardt.
Sam Hafertepe Jr. finished third on Saturday night, followed by a hard-charging Donny Schatz, who climbed from 21st to fourth after winning the evening’s B Main. Justin Peck was fifth.
Schatz was forced to compete in the evening’s B Main after missing the scales following his respective heat race.
“I really wanted to race Sheldon (Haudenschild) in traffic,” Reutzel added. “I wanted to catch him off guard and think I was just a lapped car that got by him. I knew on that restart that if I stuck my nose under him, he would assume that rubber was coming on the bottom. I tried to just hang back until the groove came in a little bit better for us, but the time came where I had to pull the trigger. I went for it and he didn’t have time to shut the door on us.”
Feature (35 Laps): 1. 83-Aaron Reutzel ; 2. 91-Kyle Reinhardt ; 3. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr. ; 4. 15-Donny Schatz ; 5. 13-Justin Peck ; 6. 18-Gio Scelzi ; 7. 101-Kerry Madsen ; 8. 1S-Logan Schuchart ; 9. 39M-Anthony Macri ; 10. 11K-Kraig Kinser ; 11. 26-Cory Eliason ; 12. 1A-Jacob Allen ; 13. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild ; 14. 7BC-Tyler Courtney ; 15. 55-Hunter Schuerenberg ; 16. 73-Scotty Thiel ; 17. 5-Brent Marks ; 18. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss ; 19. 18J-RJ Jacobs ; 20. 25-Chris Myers ; 21. O8-Brandon Conkel ; 22. 21-Carson Short ; 23. 33M-Mason Daniel ; 24. 22C-Cole Duncan  Lap Leaders: Sheldon Haudenschild (1-23), Aaron Reutzel (24-35)