Lonnie Wheatley, CLUTE, Texas (January 21, 2015) – No question about it, he had already made his presence known. Those on hand for Cocopah Speedway’s inaugural Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown in Yuma, AZ, had taken notice of Aaron Reutzel.
All that was lacking was the end results.
That changed with the January 10 Winter Heat Finale as Reutzel finally shook off the gremlins to pick up his first career 410-ci Sprint Car victory and the $12,000 winner’s share that went along with it, the biggest win of his career thus far.
Oh, and it came in just the fifth career 410-ci Sprint Car start for the Clute, TX, racer.
“It’s a dream come true,” the driver of the BC Fundz/Basic One Services No. 87 Triple X Sprint Car said afterward. “To not only race with but to beat guys like Kinser, Lasoski, Saldana, McMahan, it’s unreal.”
But it is real. And after earning front row starting berths in each of his first two times out among the 410 ranks in the Wren Motorsports/Momentum Racing Suspensions machine, the victory wasn’t necessarily an unexpected one for the 2015 Lucas Oil ASCS National championship hopeful.
It was really just a matter of avoiding the gremlins that had haunted the team in previous Winter Heat rounds. Like failed wing mounts. Or cut tires.
And after a broken universal joint brought an early end to the Winter Heat Round Four event on Friday, January 9, the ultimate victory drive the following night was in peril as well with nose wing and then brake issues.
But first, Reutzel had to get in position to get the win. And he did that by earning another front row starting position, this time alongside NASCAR star Kasey Kahne.
“We had noticed the tires were getting a little worn so we went with an ASCS right rear, we knew we could abuse it a little more and then try to take care of it later in the race,” Reutzel explained.
“I was worried about getting the jump on Kasey and getting out front,” Reutzel said. He did so successfully though and the race was on with Reutzel out front for all but one lap along the way.
After briefly falling behind Craig Dollansky, Reutzel responded by driving back to the front through the middle of the track. And then the nose wing collapsed.
“It took me about three laps to figure out what to do after that, I had to move the top wing around and drive it a little different,” Reutzel explained.
And then the brakes went out. All the way out.
“I couldn’t believe it, I was wondering what was next,” Reutzel says.
Fortunately, nothing else was next and Reutzel held on to the finish line for the $12,000 score in the Danny Sander Construction/ButlerBuilt machine.
“We got to Yuma just hoping to just make the features to begin with, then after the first night we figured maybe we could run top five,” Reutzel explains. “Then we felt like we might have a shot to win after the first couple of races, but I really didn’t think we’d get it.”
He got it though, kicking off the 2015 season in style aboard the Lone Star Hydro Maintenance/Wright Way Logistics entry.
“It was definitely a lot of fun,” Reutzel said of his first handful of 410-ci Sprint Car events. “If you’re a better driver, the 410 benefits you more. The more you keep your tires hooked up, the better off you are.”
As for the rash of parts issues, Reutzel was only left to guess that, “Either the 410 is more demanding on equipment or it was just a coincidence that all those things happened at the same time.”
Either way, Reutzel is busily prepping for three more nights of 410-ci Sprint Car action at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, FL, on February 5-7 before the opening pair of ASCS National weekends at Tampa’s East Bay Raceway Park on February 19-21 and then Bubba Raceway Park on February 27-28.
2015 Quick Stats: 5 races, one win, three front-row feature starts.
Up Next: Winged 410-ci Sprint Car action at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, FL, on February 5-7.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like Aaron Reutzel Racing press releases e-mailed directly to you, send your e-mail address to Lonnie Wheatley at email@example.com.
Penning the recurring series of “The Wheatley Chronicles” articles on racinboys.com, Lonnie Wheatley provides media, public relations and more for select tracks, drivers and events. For more information, Wheatley may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.