By KEN BRUCE
Playing to a standing room crowd on an unusually beautiful night for racing, Aaron Reutzel rocketed his way to his first ever win at the historic third mile dirt oval up on the hill.
The rising sprint car star out of Clute, TX added to his impressive win total in 2018 by leading all 35 laps last night to win the Artic Cat All-Stars Circuit of Champions feature event. The win for Reutzel cemented his spot as one of the contenders for the All-Star Circuit of Champions points title.
As happy as Reutzel was for winning the race, the driver of the No. 87 was even more thrilled to come to Grandview and win against the Pennsylvania Posse.
“Man, this is great,” cited Reutzel. “It’s really hard to do, to beat the PA Posse. To win here at Grandview or anywhere is Central, PA is just unbelievable. The drivers like Dietrich, Hodnett, Dewease and now little Freddie (Rahmer) over there are second to none and to be able to beat them on their own turf is just awesome.”
Reutzel had the race all going his way early in the event and looked to be running away from the field but midway through the race both Freddie Rahmer and NASCAR star Kyle Larson made up ground quickly on the leader and in the blink of an eye there was a three-car battle for lead. Lapped traffic made it difficult for Reutzel to maintain the top spot but through it all he managed to do so before the red came out to stop the event when Brock Zearfoss went over in turn three.
“It was getting tight there before the red came out,” mentioned Reutzel. “During the red, the crew just told me to run the bottom and hold your line and things will work out. They told me to run a little different line in three and four but when you have those guys behind you really don’t know where to go sometimes, they are pretty good.”
Reutzel talked about his team and his good run in the Knoxville Nationals a couple of weeks ago.
“This team is really good right now. Everything’s taken off pretty good here so far this year. We didn’t come into the year with too high of expectations. I can’t thank Mike and Josh Baughmans for everything. John and Steve Volken for providing us with great motors and all of out other sponsors who help us out so much. The crew is outstanding and without any of them we wouldn’t have been able to have the success we are having. We had a great run at Knoxville at the Nationals and just making that show is an accomplishment and to run up front with those guys is just a dream come true.”
First ever Thunder on the Hill Modified Victory for Billy Pauch Sr
It’s a hard stat to believe but after 730 career wins for Billy “The Kid” Pauch, the Frenchtown, PA superstar had never won a “Thunder on the Hill” Modified main event. Although Pauch is the all-time leader in TOTH sprint car victories, a modified win has always alluded him.
Well, you can scratch that off the list now as Pauch led all 30 laps of Thursday night main event to garner the victory. Pauch who started on the pole held off a determined Jeff Strunk to take the wildly popular win in front of a standing room only crowd.
“The car really ran good here tonight,” Mentioned Pauch. “It’s good to be on top of the hill instead of on the bottom hill for a change here. I know we started on the pole, but we still had to hang on and I knew Jeff (Strunk) was behind me and he is the one of the best here. We switched all of our cars over to coils now and I know the torsion bar cars tend to run better here but I didn’t want to switch it over for one race and didn’t feel like going back and forth so we left it alone and it worked out well. We have been going really good at Bridgeport this year and it just shows that us old guys can still get it done. Maybe not quite as much as before but we can still do it.”
The only issue Pauch had all night was when he came up a lapped car with around five to go. With the track being so bottom dominant at this point of the race, Pauch wasn’t sure how to deal with the lapped car and ended up going back in time and remembered what another superstar from the past did in the same situation.
“I knew when I came up on the lapped car that if I went to the inside, that Jeff would shoot up to my outside and box me in and then I’d be screwed so I had to go to the outside of him. It wasn’t like the bottom was rubbered up at all, it was just the fasted way around the track tonight. So I went to the outside of the guy and of course he keeps racing me but I figured as long as I could stay beside him Jeff wouldn’t be able to get around both of us. I remembered quite a few years ago and I can’t remember what track it was that Jack Johnson did the same thing to me. I was faster then Jack but he did the same thing to me and got up alongside of the lapped car and then was nowhere for me to go. It’s funny how you remember things like that sometime.”
As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dirtracefan25 for any questions or comments.