Reutzel Carries Confidence into Knoxville Nationals after Top-Five in 360 Nationals
Lonnie Wheatley, CLUTE, Texas (August 9, 2017) – Aaron Reutzel and the Dissolvalloy Downhole Revolution/BC Fundz No. 87 Triple-X Sprint Car team are set to kick off their pursuit of 57th Annual Knoxville Nationals glory with Wednesday’s opening round of qualifying action.
And, after posting his second top-five finish over the last three years of 360 Nationals competition atop the storied Marion County Fairgrounds ½-mile clay oval in Knoxville, Iowa, Reutzel and the Wren Motorsports/Momentum Racing Suspensions team go into this week’s action with confidence.
“We learned some things and then learned some things not to do in Sunday’s Capitani Classic,” Reutzel says. “If we can qualify like we did in the 360 Nationals, the rest of it will fall in place.”
Qualifying can be key, and Reutzel kicked off last week’s 27th Annual Knoxville 360 Nationals with a strong qualifying effort that timed him in sixth among Thursday’s 43-car field of competitors. Reutzel then raced to fourth in his heat race to earn a feature starting position.
“We made it through the heat and that was huge,” Reutzel says, as he was only one of two drivers among the top ten in qualifying to make the feature cut through the heat race, which weighs heavily with the Nationals point system.
The 20-lap Thursday feature got off to a wild start with Reutzel fortunate to avoid any race-ending damage.
“The car in front of me ran over the berm and got completely sideways,” Reutzel recalls. “He came back across the track and collected us, then we got run over from behind and it about tore the wing off.”
With an open red, the Nattress Construction/Wings Unlimited crew was able to make repairs and get Reutzel back in action.
“We were geared to run the top, but the bottom turned out to be a little better,” Reutzel says. “So we were just lugging around the bottom.”
It was good enough with Reutzel bringing the Wright Way Logistics/Walker Performance machine to the line with a sixth-place finish and a points night that was good enough to put him in the fifth starting position for Saturday night’s $15,000-to-win Knoxville 360 Nationals finale.
“We weren’t good enough to move forward, but we were good enough to hold our ground,” Reutzel said of Thursday’s sixth-place run.
Saturday’s 25-lap finale found Reutzel in the Knoxville 360 Nationals top-five for the second time in three years with a fourth-place finish after starting fifth.
“We were up to third at one time, then lost a couple positions before getting back to fourth,” Reutzel says. “We were good, the guys ahead of us were just a little better. They have all raced about a million laps there, they raced a little better and moved around a little better than us.”
Sunday brought a switch to 410-ci action with the Sixth Annual Capitani Classic atop the ½-mile clay oval.
After a late draw for qualifying, some experimentation was in order.
“We tried some stuff on the car that worked with the 360,” Reutzel explains. “It didn’t work so well with the 410, so we learned not to do that.”
After timing in 14th-quick among his group of 34 in the 69-car field, Reutzel ran fifth in his heat race to set the stage for a sixth-starting position in “B” Main action.
“We were running fifth and had a shot at getting into the top three, then the car jumped out of gear,” Reutzel said of the end of his Sunday efforts.
With a recent 410-ci win at Jackson, MN, among his six overall triumphs this season and a third-place showing in 410-ci action at Knoxville in April, Reutzel feels good about the No. 87 team going into this week’s 57th Annual Knoxville Nationals.
“I think it’s the best car that we have had going into the Nationals,” the 2015 Rookie of the Nationals says. “If things fall right, hopefully we can be in our first Knoxville Nationals ‘A’ Feature on Saturday night.”
2017 Quick Stats: 54 races, 6 wins, 20 top-fives, 31 top-tens.
Up Next: 57th Annual Knoxville Nationals at Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway on Wednesday through Saturday. Reutzel will take part in Wednesday’s qualifier that will set the stage for Friday and Saturday action.
Keep Track: Keep track of Aaron Reutzel’s on-track action including schedule and results at http://www.aaronreutzelracing.com/, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aaron-Reutzel-Racing/117666254913127 or on Twitter at @AaronReutzel. You can also e-mail Aaron at email@example.com.
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Penning the recurring series of “The Wheatley Chronicles” articles on www.sprintcarmania.com, Lonnie Wheatley provides media, public relations and more for select tracks, drivers and events. For more information, Wheatley may be contacted at email@example.com.
Article Credit: Lonnie Wheatley