Aaron Reutzel I 30 Ascs Mid South Win 092922
Aaron Reutzel in victory lane at I-30 Speedway. (TWC photo)

It’s All Reutzel In STN Opener

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Aaron Reutzel kicked off the final Short Track Nationals weekend at I-30 Speedway by racing to victory lane in Thursday night’s 25-lap 15th annual Ralph Henson Memorial.

Reutzel outlasted fellow front row starter Wayne Johnson in the opening circuits and then raced on to a convincing $5,646 victory aboard the Ridge & Sons Racing Mobil 1/Folkens Brothers Trucking No. 8 sprint car in the ASCS Mid-South season finale.

“We’ve still got a few things to clean up to have a chance to win on Saturday night,” Reutzel said. “It does feel really good to get at least one more win at one of my favorite tracks to race at, hopefully, we can get at least one more this weekend.”

Reutzel gridded the field from the front row outside and gunned into a commanding lead over pole starter Johnson on the original start only to have it negated when the red flag flew for a backstretch double-tumble involving California’s Justin Sanders and Pennsylvania’s Mark Smith.

Johnson got the better of Reutzel on the second start only to have Reutzel slide back into the lead in turns three and four on the opening lap. Johnson slid back around Reutzel in the next pair of corners only to have Reutzel counter the move again a half-lap later.

Reutzel fought off Johnson for several rounds and began to extend his lead when he reached traffic after just seven laps.

Reutzel worked through traffic in the ensuing rounds, riding a treacherous cushion as Sam Hafertepe, Jr., made his way past Johnson for second on the 15th round before a caution flew for Michael Day’s stalled mount in turn two.

With three lapped cars separating himself from Hafertepe and Johnson on the restart, Reutzel stretched out a near straightaway lead by the time Hafertepe finally navigated his way through traffic and held the advantage to the stripe.

“That cushion was wild, it was pretty tricky,” Reutzel said.

Hafertepe, the 2020 Short Track Nationals champion, held the runner-up position the rest of the way while Jordon Mallett slipped past the dicing Oklahoma City duo of Johnson and Ryan Timms in the final corner to snare the final podium position as the trio crossed the stripe in three-wide formation.

Johnson settled for fourth, while Timms’ run from 13th nearly netted third before losing two positions in the final corner to cross the line in fifth.

Seventy-four cars signed in for the program.

The finish:

Feature (25 Laps):  1. 8r-Aaron Reutzel (2), 2. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (3), 3. 14-Jordon Mallett (6), 4. 2c-Wayne Johnson (1), 5. 5T-Ryan Timms (13), 6. 9jr-Derek Hagar (4), 7. 4x-Brad Bowden (9), 8. 24w-Garet Williamson (18), 9. 45x-Kyler Johnson (7), 10. 47x-Dylan Westbrook (14), 11. 22-Riley Goodno (10), 12. 29-Chad Jones (11), 13. 87J-Jace Park (8), 14. 17b-Ryan Bickett (12), 15. 91-Michael Day (5), 16. 47-Dale Howard (19), 17. 87-Tim Crawley (16), 18. 3-Howard Moore (15), 19. 39-Justin Sanders (17), 20. 43m-Mark Smith (20).

 

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