Lonnie Wheatley, CLUTE, Texas (August 1, 2019) – Aaron Reutzel and the Baughman-Reutzel Motorsports No. 87 Sprint Car team are ready for a pair of big weeks at their home base in Knoxville, Iowa.
And it all begins this week as the current All Star Circuit of Champions points leader and reigning champion swaps out powerplants for this weekend’s Knoxville 360 Nationals atop the ½-mile Knoxville Raceway clay oval at the Marion County Fairgrounds.
A past Lucas Oil ASCS National champion, Reutzel has made just a pair of 360-ci starts over the past two years as he has focused upon the 410-ci ranks.
“They race entirely different, so I just have to make some adjustments,” Reutzel says of the switch. Reutzel claimed a fourth-place finish in his most recent 360 Nationals effort in 2017. Reutzel will take in the Thursday qualifier portion of the 360 Nationals that will set the stage for Saturday’s finale.
Reutzel will then round out the weekend with Sunday’s Capitani Classic before shifting focus to next week’s Knoxville Nationals.
After battling with issues at Eldora two weeks ago, Reutzel raced the Folkens Brothers Trucking/Dissolvalloy Downhole Revolution Triple-X Sprint Car into the July 20 Kings Royal finale only to suffer a cut tire after being collected in an early tangle.
Already with a half-dozen All Star scores to his credit this season including a July 12 triumph at Utica-Rome Speedway, Reutzel kept the Precision Catalyst/Hollywood Blasting & Coating/Beard Equipment team atop the series point charts with three top-fives in four events this past weekend.
The weekend included finishes of fourth at both Wisconsin’s Plymouth Dirt Track on Thursday and then West Burlington, Iowa’s 34 Raceway on Sunday along with a fifth-place finish at Knoxville Raceway on Saturday. Reutzel had an additional top-five finish in his sights on Friday at Minnesota’s Jackson Motorplex on Friday only to suffer mechanical problems that forced him pitside.
“I just missed the top line in qualifying, then the heat was around the bottom,” Reutzel said of the Thursday card at Plymouth. Reutzel made the most of it, rallying through the feature field from 14th aboard the Nattress Construction/Momentum Racing Suspensions machine. “It was hard to pass but we were able to work up to fourth.”
Reutzel set overall quick time the next night out at Jackson and started the feature sixth only to have the night cut short by mechanical woes.
Moving on to Knoxville, Reutzel timed in second-quickest overall amongst the field of 48 All Star entries and then climbed from tenth to fifth in the feature while also testing the 360 waters with a charge from 19th to ninth.
“We didn’t draw well for the Dash, but we were a lot better in the ‘A’,” Reutzel says. “We had the wrong gear in the 360 for qualifying, we got that straightened out and drove all the way up to ninth without a caution.”
Reutzel finished out the weekend with a fourth-place showing at 34 Raceway.
“I was leading the Dash and hit a rut and bounced it and spun,” Reutzel recalls. “After starting seventh in the ‘A’, we were up to third and I hit the same rut and bounced back to fifth. We were able to get one more spot back.”
It’s all about Iowa for the next two weeks beginning with this week’s Knoxville 360 Nationals.
2019 Quick Stats: 51 races, 8 wins, 21 top-fives, 30 top-tens.
Next Up: Knoxville 360 Nationals on Thursday and Saturday; Capitani Classic at Knoxville Raceway on Sunday.
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Penning the recurring series of “The Wheatley Chronicles” articles on www.sprintcarmania.com, Lonnie Wheatley provides media, public relations and more for select tracks, drivers and events. For more information, Wheatley may be contacted at [email protected]