Story By: TYLER ALTMEYER / ALL STAR CIRCUIT OF CHAMPIONS – MEEKER, OK – Less than a week after getting edged-out by Austin McCarl in an epic battle at Park Jefferson International Speedway, Clute, Texas-native Aaron Reutzel redeemed himself and gave Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 fans something even more standing ovation-worthy, this time outdueling Kyle Larson in a slider slugfest during a first-ever Series appearance at Red Dirt Raceway in Meeker, Oklahoma.
The victory, Reutzel’s fourth of the 2020 season and the 29th of his All Star career, not only awarded a $5000 top prize, but it officially opened the 2020 edition of Cometic Gasket Thunder Through The Plains presented by Hercules Tires. Kyle Larson chased Reutzel to the final checkers, followed by Cory Eliason, Justin Peck and Danny Dietrich.
“I just want to thank the Baughman family for giving me this opportunity and taking a chance on me to come out here and race. They trust me to come in here and do my job and it feels awesome to be able to put up results like this. Curt Fischer of Fischer Body Shop is with us tonight, so we’re glad to get it done for him,” said Aaron Reutzel, driver of the Baughman-Reutzel Motorsports/Fischer Body Shop/Folkens Brothers Trucking/No. 87 sprint car. “Dylan, Jim Bob and I just kinda do our thing and it works really well. We certainly wouldn’t be in this position without everyone who supports this team and believes in us.”
Lining up seventh on the feature grid by way of dash result, it did not take long for Reutzel to learn his way around the Meeker quarter-mile, eventually navigating his way to third with just three laps checked off the counter. At that point, Elk Grove, California’s Kyle Larson was the main event leader, utilizing the outside-pole position to snag the top spot before the completion of lap one. Danny Dietrich, who started third, raced between Larson and Reutzel.
After a pair of cautions on lap nine, followed by another set of yellow flags on lap 11, a long stretch of green flag action would ensue with the top three battling under a blanket. By lap 17, Reutzel was in position to take the runner-up spot away Dietrich, this time using a slider between turns three and four to steal the position away from the Gettysburg-native. Despite the position change, Reutzel, Larson and Dietrich continued to race all within just a few car-lengths of each other, soon faced with traffic for the first time on lap 22.
Lap 23 saw the evening’s first major takeover attempt, as Reutzel dived underneath Larson to take command through turns one and two. Larson returned the favor with a slider of his own through turns three and four, regaining control of the field as the pair drag raced toward the flagstand. Now forced to deal with a gaggle of slower cars, the battle between Larson and Reutzel would only intensify.
Maintaining momentum around the speedway’s outer edge, Reutzel powered by Larson to lead the next two circuits. Staying in hot pursuit, Larson quickly retook command from the two-time All Star champion with another slider in turns three and four.
From that point forward, it was an all-out brawl for the lead, racing nose-to-tail and side-by-side for the next ten circuits, exchanging slide jobs for the top spot nearly every trip around the speedway. Despite the persistence displayed by each driver, and accidental contact on more than one occasion, Larson remained in control until lap 36.
A final slider through turns three and four on lap 36 confirmed Reutzel’s visit to victory lane. Caution flags flew for the final time the following circuit setting up a four-lap sprint to the in clean air; Reutzel prevailed.
“We were racing each other so hard that we actually had a hard time getting through traffic. I was watching lapped cars drive away from us because we were running so hard,” an elated Aaron Reutzel continued. “Obviously, I was trying to pass him and get rid of him, but (Kyle Larson) is so good. You think you have him, but then he pulls something out of his hat. There were a few times where he thought he had me because he would leave the slider lane open. I’m not even sure what lap we started all of that on.”
“That was a lot of fun. Obviously, it would have been more fun to get the win,” Kyle Larson said, driver of the Paul Silva-owned/Finley Farms/No. 57 entry. “To have a dual like that with Aaron (Reutzel), for what felt like 15 to 20 laps, is awesome. We were a little bit off there in the feature and I think Aaron was a touch better than us. But we were still able to fight with him and do what we could to get the win. The fans definitely got their money’s worth tonight.”
The Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 will continue the 2020 edition of Cometic Gasket Thunder Through The Plains presented by Hercules Tires with a Saturday night visit to Outlaw Motor Speedway in Oktaha, Oklahoma. Hot laps are scheduled to hit the speedway at 7:15 p.m.
Contingency Awards/Results: Red Dirt Raceway – Friday, June 5, 2020:
Event: Cometic Gasket Thunder Through The Plains presented by Hercules Tires
C&R Racing All Star Warm-Ups: Sam Hafertepe, Jr. – 12.963
Lincoln Electric Fast Qualifier: Aaron Reutzel – 11.427
Ford Performance Heat #1 Winner: Danny Dietrich
All Pro Aluminum Cylinder Heads Heat #2 Winner: Tony Stewart
Hunt Brothers Pizza Heat #3 Winner: Brock Zearfoss
Kear’s Speed Shop Dash Winner: Tony Stewart
Classic Ink USA Screenprinting & Embroidery B-Main Winner: Gio Scelzi
Rayce Rudeen Foundation First Non-Transfer: Tim Kent
Ollie’s Bargain Outlet A-Main Winner: Aaron Reutzel
Hercules Tire A-Main Hard Charger: Danny Smith (+13)
(Lincoln Electric, Hercules Tire, Rayce Rudeen Foundation: Need decal to qualify for contingency award)
1. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 11.427; 2. 57-Kyle Larson, 11.516; 3. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr., 11.566; 4. 26-Cory Eliason, 11.572; 5. 41G-Gio Scelzi, 11.790; 6. 17-Josh Baughman, 11.801; 7. 52-Blake Hahn, 11.830; 8. 70-Justin Peck, 11.836; 9. 11-Zeb Wise, 11.850; 10. 48-Danny Dietrich, 11.875; 11. 14-Tony Stewart, 11.896; 12. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss, 11.906; 13. 88N-DJ Netto, 11.939; 14. 21P-Robbie Price, 11.979; 15. 13-Paul McMahan, 11.985; 16. 99-Skylar Gee, 11.994; 17. 16A-Justin Sanders, 12.010; 18. 18-Ian Madsen, 12.053; 19. 41S-Dominic Scelzi, 12.098; 20. 17w-Harli White, 12.122; 21. 11c-Roger Crockett, 12.127; 22. 97-Alan Gilbertson, 12.250; 23. W20-Greg Wilson, 12.270; 24. 4-Danny Smith, 12.286; 25. 17g-Channin Tankersley, 12.451; 26. 5$-Dan Smith, 12.475; 27. 15-Mitch Harble, 12.626; 28. 79-Tim Kent, 13.544;
Heat #1 (8 Laps) – Top 6 Transfer
1. 48-Danny Dietrich ; 2. 26-Cory Eliason ; 3. 88N-DJ Netto ; 4. 52-Blake Hahn ; 5. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 6. 41S-Dominic Scelzi ; 7. 17G-Channin Tankersley ; 8. 99-Skylar Gee ; 9. 79-Tim Kent ; 10. 97-Alan Gilbertson 
Heat #2 (8 Laps) – Top 6 Transfer
1. 14-Tony Stewart ; 2. 57-Kyle Larson ; 3. 16A-Justin Sanders ; 4. W20-Greg Wilson ; 5. 70-Justin Peck ; 6. 21P-Robbie Price ; 7. 17W-Harli White ; 8. 5$-Dan Smith ; 9. 41G-Gio Scelzi 
Heat #3 (8 Laps) – Top 6 Transfer
1. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss ; 2. 17-Josh Baughman ; 3. 11-Zeb Wise ; 4. 18-Ian Madsen ; 5. 13-Paul McMahan ; 6. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr. ; 7. 11C-Roger Crockett ; 8. 4-Danny Smith ; 9. 15-Mitch Harble 
Dash #1 (6 Laps)
1. 14-Tony Stewart ; 2. 57-Kyle Larson ; 3. 48-Danny Dietrich ; 4. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss ; 5. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr. ; 6. 17-Josh Baughman ; 7. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 8. 26-Cory Eliason 
B-Main (10 Laps) – Top 6 Transfer
1. 41G-Gio Scelzi ; 2. 17W-Harli White ; 3. 99-Skylar Gee ; 4. 11C-Roger Crockett ; 5. 4-Danny Smith ; 6. 17G-Channin Tankersley ; 7. 79-Tim Kent ; 8. 5$-Dan Smith ; 9. 97-Alan Gilbertson ; 10. 15-Mitch Harble 
A-Main (40 Laps)
1. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 2. 57-Kyle Larson ; 3. 26-Cory Eliason ; 4. 70-Justin Peck ; 5. 48-Danny Dietrich ; 6. 11-Zeb Wise ; 7. 18-Ian Madsen ; 8. W20-Greg Wilson ; 9. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss ; 10. 4-Danny Smith ; 11. 13-Paul McMahan ; 12. 52-Blake Hahn ; 13. 41G-Gio Scelzi ; 14. 11C-Roger Crockett ; 15. 88N-DJ Netto ; 16. 41S-Dominic Scelzi ; 17. 21P-Robbie Price ; 18. 16A-Justin Sanders ; 19. 99-Skylar Gee ; 20. 17G-Channin Tankersley ; 21. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr. ; 22. 17-Josh Baughman ; 23. 14-Tony Stewart ; 24. 17W-Harli White  Lap Leaders: Kyle Larson (1-23), Aaron Reutzel (24, 25), Kyle Larson (26-35), Aaron Reutzel (36-40).