When it came right down to it, Aaron Reutzel was strong enough to win it all.
Reutzel put the finishing touches on his second consecutive Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions title in late September, clinching his third major series title in five years.
Throughout much of the season the 29-year-old Reutzel was locked into a tight point battle with Dale Blaney, but closed the campaign with a strong run of 10 series wins over the final six weeks of racing.
Reutzel ultimately captured the title with a 158-point margin over Blaney.
The 2015 Lucas Oil ASCS national champion has made an impressive transition to 410 racing. After several years owning his own team, Reutzel partnered with Mike and Josh Baughman to launch Baughman-Reutzel Motorsports prior to the 2018 season.
The team now has two All Star titles to their credit.
One of the key moments for Reutzel and his team this year was winning an All Star event at Williams Grove Speedway in late August, the first victory in history for an All Star regular at the Grove.
After a long, anxious season and a point battle that was often stressful, the stretch run ultimately defined Reutzel’s year. He closed out the season in impressive fashion and settled the point chase once and for all.
“The key was probably just finally having some luck on our side,” Reutzel admitted. “All year we had a lot of good runs but we had part failures, flat tires, guys spinning out in front of me, things like that. When we finally got away from the bad luck some good things started happening.”
Reutzel pointed to his new relationship with Mike and Josh Baughman and says it has made a real difference in how he is able to race.
“The biggest thing is not having to worry about the financial stuff. That was big, actually. Being able to focus on driving the car and working on the car, that’s a big change for me,” said Reutzel.
“There’s a good chemistry between my family and the Baughman family, and that’s big, too,” he added. “Before we formed the team we were already good friends, and they’ve become like family to us. It’s been a great combination. We are very similar and have similar interests and it works out really well.”
As the 2019 season got underway, Reutzel talked openly about his desire to win a second consecutive All Star title, and it was a recurring theme in interviews throughout the season.
“Last year (2018) it seemed like we weren’t supposed to win the championship … it was our rookie year in 410-inch racing, and it was our rookie year with the All Stars. And we really weren’t planning on winning it, we just wanted to be competitive and learn. So when we won the championship, it almost felt like people thought it was a surprise.
“This year it was important to try and win it again because we wanted to prove that it wasn’t a fluke, or luck. We felt like we wanted to prove that we really are a championship team.”
One of the biggest changes for Reutzel was moving his family from their native Clute, Texas, to Knoxville. The move allowed him to get home more often, and was a good home base for the operation.
“From 2015 through 2017 we lived in our motorhome, so the change to move into a home in Knoxville was nice. It was good to get settled in somewhere for the long term. It’s been good, because it allowed me to get home a lot more. The Baughmans are really good about making sure I’m able to fly home often to see my family.”
Reutzel and his wife Shelbey have two children, five-year-old son Carson and two-year-old daughter Riley. Family, in fact, is guiding Reutzel’s decisions about his racing future.
“We’ve been asked about running with the World of Outlaws full time, but I’m not going to do that right now,” he says. “That was my decision. The Baughmans left it up to me and they would have been happy to do it if I wanted to.
“But I want to wait a little bit longer; I want to spend as much time with Carson and Riley as I can. When our kids are both in school full time, I’ll probably go run with the Outlaws.”
So where will Reutzel and BRM race in 2020? That is yet to be determined.
“We’ll either go back with the All Stars or run an open schedule,” he says. “I would be good with either of those. I like doing the All Stars, but at some point I’d also like to do an
“You get a little burned out racing a full schedule with a series, and there were weekends when we towed a long way just to get rained out, and that’s hard. It’s easier if your schedule can be flexible based on the weather forecast.”
Rain or shine, Reutzel has proven that he’s likely going to be a player on the national scene for years to come.
Three national titles in five years by age 29 is definitely a good start.