JEFFERSON, S.D. – Although it had been more than three months since the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 last hit the track, Friday night’s points opener at Park Jefferson Int’l Speedway proved some things haven’t changed.
Two-time defending All Star champion Aaron Reutzel left no doubt to those in attendance at Park Jefferson that the extended gap in the All Star schedule did not weaken his focus or ability, ultimately ending his evening $6,600 richer and taking the early series lead.
Reutzel led 18 of 25 laps in the points opener for the All Stars, snagging his third win overall with the series in 2020 and the 28th of his short, but impressive career.
The driver of the Baughman-Reutzel Motorsports/Folkens Brothers Trucking No. 87 sprint car dominated the action during the first All Star appearance at the South Dakota facility.
He took command for the first time on lap eight of 25 and immediately blasted away to a impressive lead. Justin Henderson, who earned the pole position by way of his dash victory, led the first seven circuits before losing command to Reutzel.
With very little real estate to work with, Reutzel’s takeover occurred on the very bottom of the speedway, narrowly squeezing by the Mike Sandvig entry in turn four.
Despite periods of relentless traffic, all circling the bottom groove within Reutzel’s preferred line, the Clute, Texas, native dodged the slower cars with ease. At one point, he had placed five lapped cars between himself and Rudeen Racing’s Cory Eliason, who followed Reutzel past Henderson to take the runner-up spot on lap 11.
A caution on lap 19 gave Eliason an opportunity to restart on the tailtank of the two-time and defending champion, but even a fresh start on a slick surface proved to be fruitless.
Reutzel eventually slipped away to a near-three-second lead by feature’s end, once again forced to navigate slower cars during the final three circuits.
Eliason held on to finish second, followed by Henderson. Brock Zearfoss cleared six positions to finish fourth, with Trey Starks crossing in fifth.
Friday night’s feature helped alleviate the sting of a tough loss that Reutzel endured at Park Jefferson a month earlier during a non-sanctioned 410 sprint car show promoted by Terry McCarl.
“The last time I was here, it was cowboy up and you had to drive as hard as you could, but tonight it was really slick and technical and that’s how I like it,” Reutzel said in victory lane. “It took me five laps to figure out how to run this place. I really had to open my entry up and pivot around the tires to get going down the straightaways. It was a lot of fun though.
“I’m just glad to be back racing a lot more, and I know the fans here tonight have been waiting for this for a long time,” Reutzel continued. “I can’t thank my team enough for their hard work so far this weekend. Our goal is to come back tomorrow night and do it again. I haven’t figured out how to surrender yet. I want to win every time we unload the car.”
The All Star season continues Saturday night with a return visit to Park Jefferson.
A-Main (25 laps): 1. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 2. 26-Cory Eliason ; 3. 7-Justin Henderson ; 4. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss ; 5. 44-Trey Starks ; 6. 17A-Austin McCarl ; 7. 17B-Bill Balog ; 8. 3-Tim Kaeding ; 9. 4-Terry McCarl ; 10. 11-Zeb Wise ; 11. 13-Paul McMahan ; 12. 48-Danny Dietrich ; 13. 22-Cole Duncan ; 14. 17-Josh Baughman ; 15. 14-Tony Stewart ; 16. 88-Kyle Offill ; 17. 3P-Sawyer Phillips ; 18. 5J-Jeremy Schultz ; 19. 99-Skylar Gee ; 20. 55-Hunter Schuerenberg ; 21. 23-Russel Borland ; 22. 70-Justin Peck ; 23. 2KS-Chad Boespflug ; 24. 2W-Scotty Neitzel ; 25. 44M-Chris Martin ; 26. 14J-Jody Rosenboom ; 27. O9-Matt Juhl .
Lap Leaders: Justin Henderson 1-7, Aaron Reutzel 8-25.