2021 Bristol Throwdown F David Gravel Feature Action Wayne Riegle Photo
David Gravel at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Wayne Riegle photo)

Gravel Sweeps Through Bristol Throwdown

BRISTOL, Tenn. — David Gravel completed a clean sweep of the Bristol Throwdown opener for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway, but it wasn’t without pressure in the closing laps.

Gravel fended off a furious charge in lapped traffic by ninth-starting Aaron Reutzel, then jetted away on a restart with five laps to go following the night’s only caution flag to secure the $10,000 victory.

Before that, he set a new track record in qualifying, won his heat race and dominated the DIRTvision Fast Pass Dash. The feature triumph served as “the icing on the cake” for the 28-year-old veteran.

It marked the second win of the year for the Watertown, Conn., native and the 60th of his World of Outlaws career.

Gravel became the fourth different World of Outlaws sprint car winner at Bristol, joining Sammy Swindell, Mark Kinser and Donny Schatz in that exclusive club.

“It’s pretty cool to be here [at Bristol] after so long,” said Gravel, whose win came 20 years after the last World of Outlaws sprint car appearance at Bristol. “It’s an iconic place that everybody talked about as a sprint car driver. I can’t thank Bristol Motor Speedway and World Racing Group enough for making this happen … and NASCAR for putting dirt on it and going dirt racing. I think it’s great for everybody in motorsports.

“We had a great car, pretty much ever since we unloaded yesterday. After the heat race and the dash, I told them not to change a damn thing because the car was really, really good,” Gravel added. “I’m sure in traffic that guys got close there. I was somewhat conservative. Sunshine (Tyler Courtney) had pretty good pace there [on the outside]. I was just kind of following him.

“I knew after that caution that Reutzel must have been doing well to pass those guys and get there.”

Though Gravel led the majority of the 25-lap feature at the .526-mile, dirt-covered high banks, he wasn’t the man that got the jump on the initial start. Gravel’s Big Game Motorsports No. 2 stumbled coming to the green flag, allowing outside polesitter Sam Hafertepe Jr. to pace the opening two circuits.

However, coming off the fourth corner on lap three, Gravel moved to the far outside and ripped around the cushion to take command from Hafertepe. By lap seven, Gravel held a 2.3-second advantage.

But as Gravel got deeper and deeper into lapped traffic past the halfway point, Reutzel’s Roth Motorsports No. 83 got better and better. He found the podium with nine laps left and moved past Hafertepe for second coming to the conclusion of lap 18.

From there, Reutzel decimated the second-and-a-half deficit between himself and Gravel, closing on Gravel’s rear nerf bar with five laps left just before Logan Schuchart slowed with a collapsed top wing to bring out the only caution flag of the feature.

Gravel
David Gravel in victory lane at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway Friday night. (Mark Funderburk photo)

That set up a five-lap shootout to the checkered flag, with Gravel darting away on a single-file restart and opening up a 1.871-second margin of victory by the finish.

“Those last five laps, I was wide open on top. I didn’t conserve a damn thing,” Gravel tipped. “I was conserving earlier, but I put together five qualifying laps [down the stretch]. I’m sure they were my best laps of the race. Hopefully, he [Reutzel] wasn’t too close.”

Without the late yellow, Reutzel believed he had the race-winning car, but once traffic was out of the equation the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year contender knew Gravel was better in clean air.

“To go from ninth to second to two laps away from taking the lead there … he couldn’t lap cars and my car was so good, I could go anywhere,” said Reutzel, who was also the night’s KSE Hard Charger after advancing seven positions. “Once he had the clean track, he could go anywhere. He was back to being good again. He was the fastest car all night until lapped traffic came along—then I felt like we were the car to beat.

“You’ve got to be good to win these races but you also have to be lucky, and we didn’t have the luck tonight.”

Carson Macedo filled out the podium in the Jason Johnson Racing No. 41, followed by Hafertepe’s familiar No. 15h and the No. 15 Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports sprinter of Donny Schatz.

NASCAR Cup Series star Kyle Larson, Gio Scelzi, two-time defending series champion Brad Sweet, Paul McMahan and rookie Brock Zearfoss closed the top 10.

The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series is scheduled to return to Bristol on Saturday evening for a $25,000-to-win finale at The Last Great Colosseum.

To view complete race results, advance to the next page.

 

World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series; Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway; April 23, 2021

Slick Woody’s Qualifying: 1. #2 – David Gravel, 13.672; 2. #18 – Gio Scelzi, 13.752; 3. #41 – Carson Macedo, 13.831; 4. #23 – Paul McMahan, 13.838; 5. #15h – Sam Hafertepe Jr., 13.856; 6. #15 – Donny Schatz, 13.863; 7. #71 – Spencer Bayston, 13.905; 8. #19 – Parker Price-Miller, 13.929; 9. #1s – Logan Schuchart, 13.945; 10. #17 – Sheldon Haudenschild, 13.950; 11. #49 – Brad Sweet, 13.966; 12. #83 – Aaron Reutzel, 13.986; 13. #3z – Brock Zearfoss, 13.994; 14. #9 – James McFadden, 13.995; 15. #57 – Kyle Larson, 14.023; 16. #24 – Rico Abreu, 14.029; 17. #7bc – Tyler Courtney, 14.058; 18. #9jr – Derek Hagar, 14.064; 19. #26 – Cory Eliason, 14.094; 20. #20 – Ryan Taylor, 14.116; 21. #11k – Kraig Kinser, 14.120; 22. #2c – Wayne Johnson, 14.122; 23. #72 – Tim Shaffer, 14.176; 24. #33m – Mason Daniel, 14.329; 25. #7s – Jason Sides, 14.340; 26. #22 – Jac Haudenschild, 14.396; 27. #85 – Dustin Daggett, 14.469; 28. #1a – Jacob Allen, NT.

Drydene Heat #1 (8 laps, top six transfer): 1. David Gravel [1], 2. Paul McMahan [2], 3. Spencer Bayston [3], 4. Sheldon Haudenschild [4], 5. Wayne Johnson [8], 6. Brock Zearfoss [5] / 7. Rico Abreu [6], 8. Cory Eliason [7], 9. Jason Sides [9].

Drydene Heat #2 (8 laps, top six transfer): 1. Sam Hafertepe Jr. [2], 2. Gio Scelzi [1], 3. Brad Sweet [4], 4. Tim Shaffer [8], 5. Parker Price-Miller [3], 6. Ryan Taylor [7] / 7. James McFadden [5], 8. Jac Haudenschild [9], 9. Tyler Courtney [6].

Drydene Heat #3 (8 laps, top six transfer): 1. Carson Macedo [1], 2. Donny Schatz [2], 3. Aaron Reutzel [4], 4. Kyle Larson [5], 5. Logan Schuchart [3], 6. Kraig Kinser [7] / 7. Derek Hagar [6], 8. Dustin Daggett [9], 9. Mason Daniel [8].

DIRTvision Fast Pass Dash (6 laps): 1. David Gravel [1], 2. Sam Hafertepe Jr. [2], 3. Donny Schatz [3], 4. Paul McMahan [5], 5. Gio Scelzi [6], 6. Carson Macedo [4].

Last Chance Showdown (10 laps, top six transfer): 1. Rico Abreu [2], 2. James McFadden [1], 3. Cory Eliason [4], 4. Jac Haudenschild [5], 5. Tyler Courtney [9], 6. Derek Hagar [3] / 7. Mason Daniel [8], 8. Dustin Daggett [6], 9. Jason Sides [7], 10. Jacob Allen (DNS).

NOS Energy Drink A-Feature (25 laps): 1. #2 – David Gravel [1], 2. #83 – Aaron Reutzel [9], 3. #41 – Carson Macedo [6], 4. #15h – Sam Hafertepe Jr. [2], 5. #15 – Donny Schatz [3], 6. #57 – Kyle Larson [12], 7. #18 – Gio Scelzi [5], 8. #49 – Brad Sweet [8], 9. #23 – Paul McMahan [4], 10. #3z – Brock Zearfoss [16], 11. #17 – Sheldon Haudenschild [10], 12. #71 – Spencer Bayston [7], 13. #9 – James McFadden [20], 14. #11k – Kraig Kinser [18], 15. #26 – Cory Eliason [21], 16. #7bc – Tyler Courtney [23], 17. #72 – Tim Shaffer [11], 18. #20 – Ryan Taylor [17], 19. #9jr – Derek Hagar [24], 20. #1s – Logan Schuchart [15], 21. #2c – Wayne Johnson [13], 22. #22 – Jac Haudenschild [22], 23. #19 – Parker Price-Miller [14], 24. #24 – Rico Abreu [19].

Lap Leader(s): Sam Hafertepe Jr. 1-2, David Gravel 3-25.

KSE Hard Charger: #83 – Aaron Reutzel (+7)

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