Vernon, N.Y. – Clute, Texas’ Aaron Reutzel has been on a tear, officially adding Utica-Rome Speedway in Vernon, New York, to his recent success streak that now includes four victories during his last six Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 starts. Impressive enough, 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 and recent NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, Tony Stewart.
Utica-Rome’s racing surface was extra saturated due to overnight rain, as well as on and off periods of drizzle that extended through the early afternoon hours.
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,” Aaron Reutzel said in Utica-Rome victory lane, driver of the Baughman-Reutzel Motorsports/Folkens Brothers Trucking/Hollywood Coating and Blasting/Fischer Body Shop/No. 87 sprint car. “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, Aaron 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 tailtank 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,” Tony Stewart said regarding Reutzel’s move around him early on during the main event. “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.”
“Hats off to this entire track prep team here tonight,” Stewart continued. “It took a little extra work to get this place into shape, but they got it done and it made for an exciting race.”
The All Star Circuit of Champions will resume their three-day sweep through the Empire State on Saturday evening, July 13, at the home of the hard clay – Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, New York. Perhaps the largest oval on the schedule – a sprawling 5/8-mile – the visit to Orange County will be highlighted with a main event purse exceeding $33,000; $10,000 to the main event winner, as well as a minimum of $600 to each feature starter.
Orange County Fair Speedway in Middletown, New York, will open pit gates at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 13. A mandatory All Star drivers meeting will take shape at 4:30 p.m. with hot laps to follow at 5 p.m., sharp. Those wanting to learn more should visit Orange County live on the Web at www.orangecountyfairspeedway.net.
-All Star Circuit of Champions Press Release & Photo