JAMAICA, VA – Earning a first-ever Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 victory is certainly special, but to accomplish that feat in front of a packed-house during the first night of championship points makes the trip to victory lane all the sweeter. Not to mention, the triumph was worth $10,000.
The first of four nights of competition through the Mid-Atlantic, Tony Stewart’s All Star Circuit of Champions kicked off their 2019 championship points season, officially, with a Thursday night visit to Virginia Motor Speedway (VMS) in Jamaica, Virginia. Cory Eliason, driver of the ever-familiar Rudeen Racing/Hagar Realty Service/Rayce Rudeen Foundation/No. 26 sprint car, proved to be the class of the field during the Thursday Night Thunder program at VMS, leading laps seven through 30 to clinch the $10,000 payday.
Despite leading the majority of the 30-lap program, Eliason was under immense pressure, ultimately forced to hold back one of the best in the country, Gettysburg’s Danny Dietrich, to clinch his first-ever trip to All Star victory lane.
“My guys gave me a great race car. We kinda struggled during qualifying, but we came out swinging for the heat race, dash and feature, and came out with a win,” Cory Eliason explained in Virginia Motor Speedway victory lane. “We did this for our car owner’s son, Rayce, who passed away. His birthday is tomorrow. This is a great honor to him.”
The ‘Buckeye Bullet’ Dave Blaney and Danny Dietrich shared the front row for the start of the main event, but it was Gary Kauffman Racing’s Danny Dietrich who earned the initial jump, taking command and leading the first six circuits unchallenged.
Although Eliason slipped into second from third after the drop of the green, it was not until lap seven that the Visalia, California-native was able to apply pressure on Dietrich, actually taking command over the three-time Central Pennsylvania winner of 2019 with a bold move around the top in turns three and four. Lapped traffic was the key, allowing Eliason to capitalize and blast around Dietrich on the cushion. Dietrich’s preferred line around the bottom was blocked with slower cars.
Despite being forced to endure a red flag stop and a pair of cautions between laps eight and 13, Eliason’s campaign at the front of the field was relatively uncontested, that until slower traffic returned to the picture just beyond the midpoint of the 30-lap program.
By lap 24, things started to heat up immensely. Eliason’s pace was starting to slow as traffic intensified allowing Dietrich and Premier Motorsports’ Brock Zearfoss to enter the frame. By that point, Dietrich and Zearfoss already exchanged positions twice, as Zearfoss powered into second on lap 21, only to lose the spot back to Dietrich on lap 22.
On lap 27, Dietrich attempted to earn the lead back with a slider between turns one and two; the try failed allowing Eliason to once again slip away in traffic. A caution on lap 29 was Eliason’s saving grace, ultimately giving the Rudeen Racing ace a clear track and clean air the final two circuits.
“It’s tough racing in traffic because one side of you wants to just slide in there and force the lapped cars to lift, but the other side of you is telling you to be patient and wait for them to make a mistake,” Eliason continued. “We’re racing for points this year, so that kinda forces you to pick and choose your battles. Everything worked out and the luck fell our way. Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good.”
Despite a fierce battle with Jonestown’s Brock Zearfoss in the closing circuits, Danny Dietrich held on to finish second, followed by Zearfoss, Cale Conley, and a 22nd-starting Aaron Reutzel, the evening’s hard charger.
“I did not need that last yellow flag,” Danny Dietrich said, “Man, we were rolling pretty good on the bottom. I think we had a little bit of a steering gear issue tonight, but once I figured out it wasn’t going to fail, I could concentrate on racing. Hopefully we stay dry at Williams Grove Speedway and we’ll get to try again.”
The Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 will continue their sweep through the Mid-Atlantic states with a stop at the famed Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pa., on Friday evening, April 12. Battling for a $6,000 top prize, the All Stars will take on the infamous Pennsylvania Posse during their first Central Pennsylvania invasion of the season, also attempting to end a winless streak at The Grove that dates back to July 29, 1970.
Those unable to make the trip to Williams Grove Speedway can still watch all of the action live on Speed Shift TV. Fans seeking additional information regarding Speed Shift TV’s pay-per-view subscription options can do so by visiting Speed Shift TV online at www.speedshifttv.com.
Contingency Awards/Results: Virginia Motor Speedway – April 11, 2019:
Event: Thursday Night Thunder
C&R Racing All Star Warm-Ups: Tim Shaffer – 14.766
Lincoln Electric Fast Qualifier: Tim Shaffer – 14.390 **New Track Record
Ford Performance Heat #1: Brock Zearfoss
All Pro Aluminum Cylinder Heads Heat #2: Dave Blaney
Hunt Brothers Pizza Heat #3: Tim Shaffer
JE Pistons Dash presented by Fatheadz Eyewear: Dave Blaney
Ollie’s Bargain Outlet A-Main Winner: Cory Eliason
MSD Performance Hard Charger Award: Aaron Reutzel (+17)
Fatheadz Dash Winner Contingency: Dave Blaney
(Lincoln Electric, MSD Performance, Fatheadz Eyewear, Rayce Rudeen Foundation: Need decal to qualify for contingency award)
1. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 14.475; 2. 70-Brock Zearfoss, 14.651; 3. 99-Skylar Gee, 14.656; 4. O7-Gerard McIntyre, 14.685; 5. 5-Dylan Cisney, 14.750; 6. 13-Paul McMahan, 14.776; 7. 24-Lucas Wolfe, 14.941; 8. 11-Dale Blaney, 15.104
1. 26-Cory Eliason, 14.781; 2. 72-Ryan Smith, 14.899; 3. 98H-Dave Blaney, 15.002; 4. W20-Greg Wilson, 15.241; 5. 40-George Hobaugh, 15.359; 6. 35-Tyler Esh, 15.391; 7. 91Q-David Quackenbush, 15.506; 8. 35X-Dalton Dietrich, 99.100
1. 49x-Tim Shaffer, 14.390; 2. 48-Danny Dietrich, 14.629; 3. 91-Anthony Fiore, 14.847; 4. 14-Tony Stewart, 14.903; 5. 7K-Cale Conley, 14.995; 6. 49-Mallie Shuster, 15.469; 7. 40X-Rick Elliot, 16.436; 8. 70X-Spencer Bayston, 99.200
Heat #1 – Group (A) (8 Laps) – Top 8 Transfer
1. 70-Brock Zearfoss ; 2. O7-Gerard McIntyre ; 3. 13-Paul McMahan ; 4. 99-Skylar Gee ; 5. 24-Lucas Wolfe ; 6. 11-Dale Blaney ; 7. 5-Dylan Cisney ; 8. 87-Aaron Reutzel 
Heat #2 – Group (B) (8 Laps) – Top 8 Transfer
1. 98H-Dave Blaney ; 2. 26-Cory Eliason ; 3. W20-Greg Wilson ; 4. 35-Tyler Esh ; 5. 72-Ryan Smith ; 6. 40-George Hobaugh ; 7. 91Q-David Quackenbush ; 8. 35X-Dalton Dietrich 
Heat #3 – Group (C) (8 Laps) – Top 8 Transfer
1. 49X-Tim Shaffer ; 2. 14-Tony Stewart ; 3. 7K-Cale Conley ; 4. 48-Danny Dietrich ; 5. 70X-Spencer Bayston ; 6. 91-Anthony Fiore ; 7. 49-Mallie Shuster ; 8. 40X-Rick Elliot 
Dash #1 (6 Laps)
1. 98H-Dave Blaney ; 2. 48-Danny Dietrich ; 3. 26-Cory Eliason ; 4. 99-Skylar Gee ; 5. 70-Brock Zearfoss ; 6. 14-Tony Stewart ; 7. O7-Gerard McIntyre ; 8. 49X-Tim Shaffer 
A-Main (30 Laps)
1. 26-Cory Eliason ; 2. 48-Danny Dietrich ; 3. 70-Brock Zearfoss ; 4. 7K-Cale Conley ; 5. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 6. 14-Tony Stewart ; 7. 13-Paul McMahan ; 8. O7-Gerard McIntyre ; 9. 24-Lucas Wolfe ; 10. 70X-Spencer Bayston ; 11. 99-Skylar Gee ; 12. 72-Ryan Smith ; 13. W20-Greg Wilson ; 14. 35-Tyler Esh ; 15. 11-Dale Blaney ; 16. 49-Mallie Shuster ; 17. 49X-Tim Shaffer ; 18. 91Q-David Quackenbush ; 19. 40-George Hobaugh ; 20. 91-Anthony Fiore ; 21. 5-Dylan Cisney ; 22. 98H-Dave Blaney ; 23. 40X-Rick Elliot ; 24. 35X-Dalton Dietrich  Lap Leaders: Danny Dietrich (1-6), Cory Eliason (7-30)
2019 All Star Circuit of Champions Driver Standings (After 4/11/2019):
1. Cory Eliason – 150
2. Danny Dietrich – 146
3. Brock Zearfoss – 144
4. Cale Conley – 142
5. Aaron Reutzel – 140
6. Tony Stewart – 138
7. Paul McMahan – 136
8. Gerard McIntyre – 134
9. Lucas Wolfe – 132
10. Spencer Bayston – 130