By DEAN REYNOLDS
TRENTON, NJ – Driving back from an enjoyable night of racing at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, New Jersey. Two Western, New Yorkers grabbed many headlines from the second annual East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals.
As many already know, Erick Rudolph added to his already impressive indoor resume by wiring the field from start to finish to collect the $5,000 top prize. Yes, he was challenged late by Billy Pauch Jr., but he made the 50 lapper basically his event after drawing the pole.
The other headline that developed as the night grew deeper was grabbed by one Scott Kreutter. Now, while making the just under four hour drive home I wanted to come up with something catchy, in other words stay away from a cliché. Kreutter came from the E Main, yes, E to finish 12th in the A-Main some five hours later.
When a driver makes a run like that the first wording comes is “he did the alphabet soup.” Ugh, the cliché…But, I’m no King, Shakespeare, you get the idea. So bring in the popular cliché and whether you think its actually soup or an abundance of acronyms that’s your choice. For me, it’s all I got and it was pretty cool to watch.
Kreutter’s fate was sealed on Friday night in what many said was the best race of the entire weekend, qualifier three. His Trey Hoddick owned No. 49 lead early. However, the event that took just two drivers to Saturday’s A-Main was a battle royale (cliché #2). A restart with just one lap to go saw no less than six drivers going for those coveted qualifying positions.
With the checkered flag waving Kreutter was looking to take home third which would have put him in the B-Main, instead contact with another car saw him finish in the back. It was so far back that he was going to run the second set of races on Saturday…that ain’t good.
“After Friday night I was basically mad at myself, I kept on second guessing what I could have done different on that last lap,” he went on as a matter of fact, “Yes, it’s indoor racing and a lot can happen but if you’re a good driver you need to put yourself in positions so that it doesn’t happen.”
It would be a fairly long 18 or so hours but instead of dwelling, Kreutter was getting ready to be elbows up (cliché #3). “I knew I had a good car, I can’t thank Frank Galusha enough. I had the only Stallard chassis there but after the first set of hot laps he got the car dialed in right away,” Scott went on. “We went in to the night saying that we have some work to do but if a few parts go our way we have a shot to race in a few races.”
Believe it or not, the driver from Alden, N.Y., was actually most worried about the first race. “Early on the track is good, it has bite and fast but that means everyone is fast and it can be tough to pass,” he continued. “For some reason I just had in my head that the E and D were the tough ones just because of track conditions. I knew the car would be good but would I still be able to pass cars,”
Each event took four cars to move to the event that is one letter less, the early events were 12 laps but that grew to 20 if or when you made it to the B-Main. In the E-Main the first part of the job was done, it was tight but the black No. 49 made it to third.
The second event he proved to be a prophet. Cars were fast and passing was tough. In the late stages the final transfer spot was up for grabs right to the finish but when position #4 was official it was Scott Kreutter’s name positioned there.
“The D was tough but with the C ahead we had some more laps to pass cars. The car was good on top and bottom so I had the thought that we can get it done,” Kreutter said in his next challenge. “But, as the track got better so does the drivers. With so many cars on hand and you get in the later races you have some tough cars to pass.”
The C took the green and he went right to work, passing a car a lap moving from the back and yes, the extra laps did help. Same as the D, when the checkered flew Kreutter was again in fourth and many were starting to take notice.
On to the 20 lap B-Main. “We really didn’t have any time between the C and B, as soon as my C was done they were asking B main cars to the track,” he talked about a new challenge. “I had some adjustments I could do in the cockpit so I was just going to work with that.”
Kreutter has come too far now to say that the night was a success, it was almost the feeling that if he didn’t make the A-Main it would not be a failure but definitely a disappointment.
Unlike the events before that went fairly smooth, this indeed was the last chance race (cliché #4). The caution was going to fly a plenty and that Scott was banking on.
“I had a feeling this race was going to be a bit rough as it was the last one,” he said of his strategy. “I didn’t push right at the start and let them (the field) race it out. It was a smart move as I missed most of the tangles, I made contact with some but I never had the car stop so I could keep my positions.”
With the laps clicking off, Kreutter passing cars, many in the comfy seats were waving and cheering him on. After all, he came so far they wanted to see him finish the job. Finish the job he did do! At the end of the B-Main, Scott Kreutter took third and on to the final 50 lap feature.
While from a far it seemed smooth, Scott told of one issue that developed during the B.
“When I made contact with one of the cars, the ECU box (engine control unit) came loose and I pinned it to the cockpit with my leg,” he went on with a different tone. “If that came undone the car would have quit and who knows what would happen after that so I tried to make sure it didn’t. That made the race interesting!”
Mission accomplished? Nope.. Plans were to keep passing folks and trying to win.
“No, we never thought that we did what we needed to do, the goal is to win. We (the crew) went right to work getting ready,” Scott reflecting back. “We saw they were working on the track but I wasn’t too concerned as the car was good high or low. Just take the conditions as they come.”
As the 50 lapper played out, this time it seemed that he was finding all the skirmishes having to restart tail on several of them. Then, mid-portion of the race he was making his moves.
“As I got finally in a groove, I was passing a few cars and missing the accidents. So I was moving up,” he said. “When I got up to seventh on that one restart (Lap 32) I felt I had a real good chance to get a good finish.
“I didn’t think I could win as the track got really tough, the outside was so far out there that you couldn’t use it to pass anymore and the top cars were already down low,” Scott noted on how the final feature was playing out. “I was thinking maybe a third to fifth finish was still doable but I wasn’t catching Erick or Billy.”.
Then on 38 a stuck throttle by another competitor that saw him slide up in front of Scott’s mount caused his car to stall and ALL the cars he worked to get by, got by him. It was as if someone put the needle to the balloon, it just almost didn’t seem fair.
“That was tough, the car just slowed down and quit. I had to get it in neutral, start it, find my right gear all in a split second. When I got it all done, everyone passed me back,” he mentioned on that lap 38, “I was pissed at first but when I found out the throttle stuck on his car I was ok. I just tried to pass as many as I could to the end.”
The end result? 12th in the final scoring. While it might sound like a mission that wasn’t completed you then sit back and say “damn, that was something!”
Off the top of my head I keep thinking of Doug Wolfgang’s D to A at Knoxville in 1990 that everyone talks about. I’m sure there were some incredible Chili Bowl charges as well, but I will remember this one and so will many others.
Scott Kreutter is starting to make a name for himself in this indoor thing. He won at Allentown, set fast time in Trenton on the concrete and is always fast.
“My dad owned Fast Freddie’s, an indoor sprint track, since I was six years old I was driving those things,” he continued. “I just like the small bullring type racing so the indoor races fit my style. Trenton was actually the first time I’ve been wingless on dirt but it’s still indoor racing.”
Of course when you think indoor, you think Chili Bowl…Scott?
“I definitely want to do the Chili Bowl, maybe in 2020. I will have to look and maybe ask around, I like to get a good ride if I can,” he said of the future. “I should go to Pa and see if I can run a midget down there to get used to them. We will see but I really do want to give it a shot.”
For now, he will be getting ready for Allentown, Atlantic City and Syracuse.
“I have to thank Trey and Karl Hehr for getting the cars ready for all these races. I wouldn’t be doing any of this if it wasn’t for them. Also, thanks to Matt (Farnham), Brenton (Austin) and Peter (Bowhall) for all their work this weekend,” Scott told of his help. “Even though we never changed tires from the first race on Friday to the last lap of the A on Saturday they busted their butts all weekend.”