Story By: BRIAN WALKER / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – TAMPA, FL – Saturday’s World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series event at East Bay Raceway Park lived up to 38 years worth of hype.
When Aaron Reutzel climbed from his Roth Motorsports ride in victory lane, he couldn’t stop smiling. Neither could the fans.
The Clute, TX native was a one-man thrill show for the near standing room only crowd in attendance at the Tampa, FL facility. Reutzel, the leading Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year contender, delivered a gutsy run to collect his third career World of Outlaws win and first of the 2021 season.
His inspiration for such a daring drive? His hero and six-time World of Outlaws winner, The Texan Gary Wright.
“I dream for stuff like that,” Reutzel exclaimed. “This is what makes me love sprint car racing, when we can go out and do stuff like that. The cushion was so treacherous, but my car was loose enough that I could go up there and just get after it. It was so much fun. Running up there was a blast. I watched a video on the way up here of Gary Wright, my all-time sprint car hero, winning here doing the same thing, rippin’ four tires above it.”
For a show that was in serious jeopardy to start with a bleak weather forecast, Saturday’s program ended up being one many fans won’t forget soon.
Lining up for the 35-lap, $10,000-to-win NOS Energy Drink feature, it’s safe to say the betting favorites were two-time and defending Series champion Brad Sweet from the pole and ten-time Series champion Donny Schatz from the second row. However, Aaron Reutzel had something to say about that.
Reutzel, who started on the outside pole in his Speedway Engines / Triple-X #83, ripped the top right around Sweet and commanded the opening lap, a lead he would never relinquish. Both Schatz and Sweet presented multiple challenges to Reutzel, but neither could make a move stick, partly due to Reutzel’s bold decision making.
Putting all four wheels above the cushion and flying through the fluff, Reutzel went where others wouldn’t dare, and it paid off. With cleaner track and more avenues available up in no man’s land, he made quick work of lap traffic which served as the deciding factor when Sweet ran into a log jam on the low line while challenging him with less than ten laps left.
In his fourth start as a full-time World of Outlaws competitor, Reutzel held off proven champions Sweet & Schatz along with title contenders Macedo & Schuchart. He officially crossed the line with a 1.683-second advantage, making him the fourth different winner in four races this season.
“I can’t thank Dennis and Teresa Roth enough for this opportunity,” Reutzel mentioned. “We’ve been struggling, but we’ve been working really hard to prove to them they made the right decision by bringing me and Dylan on board. Hopefully we made ’em proud today.”
Following Reutzel to the stripe with a second-place finish was The Big Cat Brad Sweet. Following a dismal 11th-place outing in Friday’s show at Volusia, the Kasey Kahne Racing #49 crew was happy to put their NAPA Auto Parts entry back on the podium with a shot at winning.
“Track position was the biggest thing tonight,” Sweet noted. “The fact that he had that line up his sleeve was huge. When we got to traffic he basically had a clean track up there. My car was really good on the race track I thought we were racing on, but he found another lane so hats off to him. We were way too tight to be up there.”
Closing out the podium and scoring KSE Racing Hard Charger honors for the second straight night was Carson Macedo with an impressive 17th-to-third bid. Following their victory on Friday at Volusia, Macedo and the Jason Johnson Racing #41 crew continued their stellar weekend and officially claimed sole command of the World of Outlaws championship standings.
“Again, my race car was just incredible in the feature,” Macedo praised. “It just got better and better as the race went on. I’ve got to figure out qualifying and heats so we can get up closer to the front come showtime. I’m having so much fun driving this #41 right now. Carrying on Jason’s legacy with this car and now Phil as involved as he is, it’s a special deal.”
Rounding out the top ten at East Bay Raceway Park was North Dakota’s Donny Schatz, Pennsylvania’s Logan Schuchart, California’s Cory Eliason, Pennsylvania’s Brock Zearfoss, Washington’s Kasey Kahne, and Indiana’s Kraig Kinser and Justin Peck.
Cory Eliason was Saturday’s Slick Woody’s Cornhole Company Quick Time award winner at 12.396 seconds. Scoring Drydene heat race wins was Aaron Reutzel, Jason Sides and Brock Zearfoss. Brad Sweet was the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash winner.
UP NEXT – The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series will hit the Dirty South Swing next weekend with a trip to Mississippi and Louisiana in line. On Friday, March 12 it’s off the Magnolia Motor Speedway in Columbus, MS for a night at The Mag. Then, it’s all about The Rev on Saturday, March 13 with a night at Dylan Scott’s Monroe, LA venue.
NOS Energy Drink Feature (30 Laps) – 1. 83-Aaron Reutzel [$10,000]; 2. 49-Brad Sweet [$6,000]; 3. 41-Carson Macedo [$3,500]; 4. 15-Donny Schatz [$2,800]; 5. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$2,500]; 6. 26-Cory Eliason [$2,300]; 7. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [$2,200]; 8. 9-Kasey Kahne [$2,100]; 9. 11K-Kraig Kinser [$2,050]; 10. 13-Justin Peck [$2,000]; 11. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$1,600]; 12. 5-Brent Marks [$1,400]; 13. 2-David Gravel [$1,200]; 14. 2C-Wayne Johnson [$1,100]; 15. 24-Terry McCarl [$1,050]; 16. 1A-Jacob Allen [$1,000]; 17. 21-Brian Brown [$1,000]; 18. 19-Parker Price-Miller [$1,000]; 19. 33M-Mason Daniel [$1,000]; 20. 18-Gio Scelzi [$1,000]; 21. 7S-Jason Sides [$1,000]; 22. 15H-Sam Hafertepe [$1,000]; 23. 20-AJ Maddox [$1,000]; 24. 22-Johnny Gilbertson [$1,000]. Lap Leaders: Aaron Reutzel 1-35. KSE Hard Charger Award: 41-Carson Macedo [+14].