Knoxville Nationals Hard Charger Reutzel Looks for Strong Finish to Season
Lonnie Wheatley, CLUTE, Texas (August 24, 2017) – After racing into his first Knoxville Nationals championship feature event, Aaron Reutzel and the Dissolvalloy Downhole Revolution/BC Fundz No. 87 Triple-X Sprint Car team look to finish strong as the stretch run of the 2017 season kicks in.
Not only did Reutzel race into the recent Knoxville Nationals “A” Main for the first time, he capitalized on it by rallying all the way from 19th to finish seventh for Hard Charger honors in the biggest event in all of Sprint Car racing.
“It was a great Nationals for us,” the Clute, TX, racer sums up.
After running afoul of lapped traffic while leading Sunday night at Sedalia, MO, Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour action for Reutzel and the Wren Motorsports/Momentum Racing Suspensions team resumes on Thursday night at Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, AR, and then Saturday night at Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, TN.
Going into the 57th Annual Knoxville Nationals with momentum after a top-five Knoxville 360 Nationals finish, Reutzel’s Wednesday night, August 9, effort got off to a solid start with a good qualifying run.
Reutzel then raced into a transfer spot in heat race action, only to have his Nationals qualifying run unravel when a lost muffler negated the run.
“That did our night in,” Reutzel says.
That left the Friday, August 11, Hard Knox event to determine Reutzel’s Nationals fate. And he was ready to make the most of it in the Nattress Construction/Wings Unlimited machine.
“We were second quick and then made it to the feature through the heat race,” Reutzel recounts. “That was good because they lined up the feature by qualifying time.”
Gridding the feature third, Reutzel needed to run among the top four to lock himself into his first Knoxville Nationals “A” Main event.
“We got up to second at one point, then fell back to fourth and then got back up to third,” Reutzel says.
In the end, Reutzel captured the third position to secure his first Nationals finale starting berth.
“We were pretty good,” Reutzel says. “We didn’t have a lot of speed, we were just good enough to hold on to what we had.”
Saturday’s Nationals finale started in promising fashion.
“We tried a few different things on the car in hot laps, and they felt really good,” Reutzel says.
Starting 19th in the field, Reutzel had 50 laps to move the Wright Way Logistics/Walker Performance machine through the field. And that’s exactly what he did.
“We had a lot of speed,” Reutzel recalls. “Nobody else was working the bottom. We were really good down there, so we pretty much had an open lane.”
Nearing the top ten by the mid-race red flag, Reutzel and crew made more improvements to the No. 87 Sprint Car.
“We tightened up some and got even better in the last half of the race,” Reutzel recalls.
Reutzel worked his way up into a battle for fifth before ultimately settling for seventh and Hard Charger honors.
“We got by (Brad) Sweet for sixth and then tried to slide (Brian) Brown for fifth,” Reutzel relates. “I missed the slider, got a little sideways and lost my momentum.”
That allowed Sweet to slip back by with Reutzel settling for a strong seventh-place run.
“We were really pumped to run seventh from so far back against those guys,” Reutzel says.
There was little time to reflect upon perhaps one of the most impressive performances of a burgeoning career, as Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour action resumed Sunday night at Sedalia’s Missouri State Fair Speedway.
And Reutzel was in position to land his seventh overall win of the year after climbing from fourth to second in heat race action and then redrawing the pole position for the main event.
Reutzel took advantage of that pole start.
“We got out to the lead and felt pretty good leading,” Reutzel says. “We felt decent, but I thought that somebody could be a little faster than us.”
Reutzel soon found himself in traffic as he tried to protect his lead.
“I came up on a car that slid all the way from the bottom to the top,” Reutzel says. “I got myself in a bad situation. When I realized I couldn’t clear him, I had to get on the brakes. That got me up on the curb and I spun.”
In retrospect, it was a mistake that might have been avoided.
“After I spun, it felt like forever before the second place car went by,” Reutzel recalls. “If I had known we had that kind of lead, I wouldn’t have pushed it that much. But you never can tell.”
Reutzel rejoined the chase and was able to salvage a 13th place finish.
“We got back out and then it rubbered up pretty quick, so there wasn’t much chance to move forward,” Reutzel wraps up.
Action for Reutzel and the No. 87 resumes at “The Ditch” on Thursday and then a first-time visit to Smoky Mountain Speedway on Saturday.
2017 Quick Stats: 58 races, 6 wins, 21 top-fives, 33 top-tens.
Up Next: Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour at Riverside International Speedway (West Memphis, AR) on Thursday and Smoky Mountain Speedway (Maryville, TN) on Saturday.
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