AMPA, Fla. — The start to the 2015 season for the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by MAVTV American Real opened with a bang as Aaron Reutzel stormed to victory on night one of the 14th annual Ronald Laney Memorial, and 17th King of the 360’s at East Bay Raceway Park.
Jumping from the top of this B.C. Funds No. 87, Reutzel paid high honors to the track crew, “What a hell of a racetrack. Wow, there are no words for that racetrack. It was just awesome up there bouncing the fence. That was unreal.”
Rolling to second on Lap 5 from 8th, Reutzel set sights on Mark Smith who grabbed the lead the previous lap from Tampa’s A.J. Maddox. Edging Smith on Lap 7, the pair went slide for slide on Lap 8; exchange the point three times before the caution waved for Chad Kemenah.
Two takes on the restart, Reutzel had to play catch up as Smith distanced himself from the No. 87. Losing ground again following a Lap 10 caution for Wayne Johnson, whose night ended after contact with the wall, the Clute, Texas driver commented on the mid-race stall, “I don’t know what happened. I knew our car was fast enough to win but it got so tight there. I don’t know if I had a tire going down or what but it took me at least five laps to get going. McCarl past me, then I started reeling McCarl back in and we were both able to get around the No. 1, but McCarl was good enough he could run anywhere he wanted so I knew he was going to be tough to beat but luckily he hit the bottom in lapped traffic and left me the top and that was all she wrote.”
The win is Aaron’s first at East Bay Raceway Park, and fifth with the Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour.
Crossing second, Iowa’s Terry McCarl charged from 17th in the Snowplow.com No. 24, “It was a really tricky racetrack, but that’s what we love about East Bay. It’s my favorite track down here in Florida. There are so many different variables going on. It’s a chess game out there. You know Mark got out there felling good, then the track changed and we found a spot, then that changed.”
In talking about the track surface, Terry commented that the track was similar to the night Ronald Laney won the King of the 360’s.
“I was telling the guys earlier on Racinboys, this was just like the racetrack when Ronald won this deal. He came from way back to the front and it just got really weird. I think he back up at the beginning and at the end just drove around us like we were tied to a stump.”
Battling with McCarl throughout the closing laps, Pennsylvania’s Mark Smith completed the evening’s podium.
“It was a pretty nice race. I just couldn’t get my car to turn in the center,” commented Smith. “I was really, really, good as long as it would turn but the longer I went, the tighter it got and just couldn’t get it the way I wanted but we had a hell of a race there.”
Brad Loyet from fourteenth snagged fourth with Seth Bergman completing the top-five after starting twelfth.
-ASCS Press Release. Photo credit: Al Steinberg