Reutzel Keeps Rolling At Utica-Rome

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Aaron Reutzel won Wednesday's Ohio Speedweek feature at Wayne County Speedway. (Paul Arch photo)
Aaron Reutzel, shown at Wayne County Speedway, won Friday's All Star feature at Utica-Rome Speedway. (Paul Arch photo)

VERNON, N.Y. — Aaron Reutzel triumphed for the fourth time in the last six races during Friday night’s Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 event at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.

Reutzel’s Utica-Rome triumph on Friday night was accomplished from the outside of row two, mastering an uncharacteristic, lightning-fast, Utica-Rome surface while maneuvering around the likes of Justin Peck, Paul McMahan, and three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart.

Reutzel’s All Star victory bumped his season total to six, now with a 22-point advantage over Dale Blaney in the All Star driver title chase.

“Our car was phenomenal tonight,” Reutzel said. “We had options tonight. We could drive through the middle of turns one and two which really gave us a boost down the backstretch, or we could rip the top. I was a little nervous coming here tonight because I’ve seen so many videos and noticed how slick the surface was. I’m glad Mother Nature stepped in and gave us this surface tonight because this was one bad ass race track.”

During only the third Utica-Rome Speedway appearance in All Star Circuit of Champions history, the first since 2012, Reutzel made his efforts look easy. After being forced to maintain patience through a pair of cautions during the initial start, the defending All Star champion achieved the jump that he needed.

With just one circuit recorded, Reutzel was second, next setting aim on the tail tank of Tony Stewart. Although Stewart was able to balance the very top-side of the speedway, maintaining a pace well-under the preexisting track record, it was an early dose of lapped traffic that proved to be Smoke’s downfall.

By lap six, it was apparent that slower cars were going to be an issue, it was just a matter of when. As Stewart and Reutzel were racing into turn one to begin lap seven, Stewart choked up, instantly losing momentum while trying to carefully navigate around a slower roadblock. It was during that period that Reutzel made his winning move, actually driving right by Stewart on the bottom of the speedway as the pair raced off of turn two.

Although action was halted yet again on lap 16, there was no match for Reutzel’s pace, instantly opening up his advantage as soon as green flag action returned. Reutzel would eventually cross under the final checkers with an advantage pushing two seconds, keeping Stewart, Justin Peck, Paul McMahan and Cory Eliason in tow.

“That was my fault for being a little too timid in lapped traffic,” Stewart said. “I really wasn’t sure where some of those lapped cars were going to go. Having a guy like Aaron Reutzel behind you, you really can’t hesitate or wait too long. A guy like that is going to pounce and that’s exactly what he did.”

The finish:

Feature (25 laps): 1. 87-Aaron Reutzel [4]; 2. 14-Tony Stewart [1]; 3. 70X-Justin Peck [5]; 4. 13-Paul McMahan [2]; 5. 26-Cory Eliason [12]; 6. 11-Dale Blaney [8]; 7. 99-Skylar Gee [9]; 8. K4-Chad Kemenah [16]; 9. W20-Greg Wilson [17]; 10. O7-Gerard McIntyre [10]; 11. 28F-Dave Franek [3]; 12. 40-George Hobaugh [13]; 13. 90X-Matt Tanner [19]; 14. J4-John Garvin [14]; 15. 90-Jordan Givler [18]; 16. 121-Steve Glover [24]; 17. 70-Brock Zearfoss [7]; 18. 98-Joe Trenca [23]; 19. 5-Justin Barger [15]; 20. IO7-Mark Coldren [20]; 21. 40X-Chris Kurtz [22]; 22. OO-Danny Varin [6]; 23. 10C-Paulie Colagiovanni [11]; 24. 91-Scott Holcomb [21] Lap Leaders: Tony Stewart (1-6), Aaron Reutzel (7-25)

 

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