AARON REUTZEL CAPTURES 1ST CAREER ALL STAR SPRINT WIN IN “BUCKEYE CUP” AT SHARON; BRAD BLACKSHEAR ENDS A NEAR 6-YEAR WINLESS DROUGHT IN ECONO MODS
by Mike Leone
Hartford, OH May 5, 2018 After losing two open practices and the first two race events due to cold and wet weather in April, Sharon Speedway was finally able to swing open the gates on Saturday night to kick-off the 89th anniversary season of racing. Tony Stewart’s Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars presented by Mobil 1 made their first of three appearances of the 2018 season with Aaron Reutzel capturing the win, while Brad Blackshear won the Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods on Lincoln Electric Night.
One week after nearly pulling off a last lap winning pass of Tim Shaffer in the $100,000 to-win “Sprint Car World Championship” at Mansfield Motor Speedway, Aaron Reutzel totally dominated the “Buckeye Cup” on Saturday night leading all 30 laps for his first career All Star win. Reutzel has pulled off an impressive feat winning his first career World of Outlaws and All Star Circuit of Champions victories in the same season. The $5,000 victory also propelled him into the All Star point lead for the first time in his career as $50,000 will go to the 2018 champion.
“I could see my crew guy in turn one telling me that I had a huge lead,” explained the Clute, TX winner. “I’ve never laughed racing, but to see that big guy motion to me that I was clear was pretty funny. What can you say about this team? They’re pretty unbelievable. We put this team together last minute on December 20, but when you surround yourself with a great group of guys like I have, we should do what we’re doing right now. I’m just part of a hell of a team right now. I can’t say how proud and lucky I am to be in this situation to be driving their race car. It’s taken all the stress off me of being a team owner. We’ve been close with the All Stars a few times, so to get a win now kind of puts some stress behind us. Now we have the rest of the year to enjoy and try to win more.”
After winning the first dash, Reutzel quickly bolted into the lead over Carl Bowser, while fourth starting Carson Macedo, Tony Stewart, and Josh Baughman completed the first five after the opening lap. Macedo drove under Bowser for second on lap three with Stewart following in third one lap later. All eyes quickly shifted to Parker Price-Miller, who was flying around the extreme top-side of the 3/8-mile. The 14th starting Kokomo, Indiana youngster was already up to sixth after four laps then cracked the top five on lap five getting by Baughman before the first caution of the event for John Garvin, Jr.
When green replaced yellow, Baughman and Cole Duncan tangled in turn three with both drivers getting upside down. Both drivers were okay, but tempers flared as both had to be separated by officials. That would be the event’s final stoppage as the remaining 25 laps went green-to-checkered. Price-Miller continued his way forward when racing resumed getting by Bowser for fourth.
Following Price-Miller forward was Jac Haudenschild. “The Wild Child” started one row behind Price-Miller in 16th, and made the move on PPM for fourth on lap nine. Back up front, Reutzel had opened up a half-straightaway lead on Macedo when he caught traffic on lap 11. Haudenschild reeled in Stewart in the race for third and drove to the inside of the three-time NASCAR Cup Champion on lap 12 to take the spot. Stewart would then lose fourth to Price-Miller on lap 18 when he smacked the turns one and two fence.
Reutzel’s only real scare actually came on the final lap when he moved down low and caught a rut, which skated his car across the track. Reutzel lost some speed, but luckily for him no one made contact as he still raced on to his first career Sharon win by 5.348 seconds in the Folkens Brothers Trucking/Precision Catalyst/Dissolvalloy-sponsored, Baughman-Reutzel Motorsports-owned #87.
Macedo was second. Haudenschild earned the MSD Performance Hard Charger award improving 13 positions to a third place effort over Price-Miller, who gained 10. Stewart dropped to fifth. Brandon Spithaler was sixth. Last Saturday night’s $100,000 Mansfield winner, Tim Shaffer, was seventh after starting 15th. Rico Abreu was eighth over Bowser, who faded to ninth. Dave Blaney was 10th after starting 19th.
Chad Kemenah set fast time over the 43-car field with a lap of 14.051 in qualifying. Spithaler, Bowser, Reutzel, Stewart, and Hobaugh won the heat races. Reutzel and Bowser split the dash wins to earn the front row of the feature. Gary Kriess, Jr. captured the C main, while Travis Philo won the B main. The All Stars will return to Sharon on Tuesday, June 19 for Ohio Speedweek before completing their 2018 events with the “Lou Blaney Memorial” on Saturday, July 7.
Brad Blackshear is one of the new non-wing RUSH Sprint Car racers and wasn’t even planning on racing on Saturday night; however, after Lernerville Speedway rained out for the debut of the division with the All Stars the night prior, Blackshear decided in the morning to put his Econo Mod together to race. The decision paid off as the 23-year-old Brookfield, Ohio racer ended a near six-year winless drought at Sharon taking the $500 season opening Summit Racing Equipment victory after the disqualification of apparent winner, Josh Ferry, in post-race tech for aluminum brake calipers.
Ty Rhoades used the outside to power into the early lead of the 20 lapper over defending two-time champion, Steve Haefke. After a caution for rookie Brandon Fiedler with two laps scored, Rhoades chose the outside on the restart, but it was Haefke taking the lead on lap three. Rhoades didn’t go away as he drove under Haefke in turn four to lead lap four.
Ferry meanwhile started sixth and passed Haefke for second on lap 10 following a restart. After a spin by Brian Toto on lap 12 and under caution, something broke in the front end sending Rhoades spinning into the infield ending his shot at his first career Sharon win. This gave the lead to Blackshear, but his lead was short-lived as he got sideways when racing resumed allowing Haefke to regain the lead with Ferry following.
Ferry made what appeared to be the winning move on lap 15 from Haefke and went to take the checkered flag first before being disqualified. In what turned out to be the race for the win, Blackshear passed Haefke on the final lap in turns one and two. Haefke then got a run and tried to get under Blackshear down the backstretch entering turn three, but spun allowing Blackshear to take the position and what turned out to be his first win since July 14, 2012 in his #19.
Following the disqualification of Ferry and the spin by Haefke, Steve Burns, Jr. was credited with runner-up. Tyler Frankenberry came back from a spin on lap six to finish third over Josh Mueller from 13th and Mark Titus from 11th. Rhoades and Haefke won the heats over the 19-car field.
All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars “Buckeye Cup” (30 laps, $5,000 to-win): 1. AARON REUTZEL (Baughman 87) 2. Carson Macedo (Gaerte/Norman 3G) 3. Jac Haudenschild (3) 4. Parker Price-Miller (Destiny 4) 5. Tony Stewart (14) 6. Brandon Spithaler (22) 7. Tim Shaffer (Demyan/Rudzik 49) 8. Rico Abreu (24) 9. Carl Bowser (Chiapelli 98) 10. Dave Blaney (Grove 70) 11. George Hobaugh (40) 12. Paul McMahan (Buch 13) 13. Danny Holtgraver (D4) 14. Trevor Baker (45) 15. Max McGhee (11) 16. Dan Shetler (Pryde 29) 17. Jared Zimbardi (35) 18. Sye Lynch (2L) 19. Travis Philo (5T) 20. Chad Kemenah (Hunter 10H) 21. Cale Conley (Jessup 7K) 22. Caleb Helms (17) 23. Josh Baughman (17) 24. John Garvin, Jr. (51) 25. Cole Duncan (22) 26. Jack Sodeman, Jr. (23Jr).
DNQ for the feature: Lee Jacobs (Lewis 81), Ayrton Olsen (71), Tyler Esh (35), Michael Bauer (46), Dennis Wagner (38), Bryan Salisbury (126), Gary Kriess, Jr. (Frederick 55), Eric L. Williams (4W), Jimmy Morris III (4N), A.J. Flick (2), Gale Ruth, Jr. (1R), Brent Matus (33), Darren Pifer (23), Jeremy Kornbau (27K), Brandon Matus (13), Davey Jones (76), Mike Marano II (34M).
Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods (20 laps, $500 to-win): 1. BRAD BLACKSHEAR (19) 2. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 3. Tyler Frankenberry (38) 4. Josh Mueller (01) 5. Mark Titus (25) 6. Chris Clay (99) 7. Rick Wilson, Jr. (35) 8. Steve Haefke (41) 9. Jake Plaugher (46) 10. Ty Rhoades (12R) 11. Brian Toto (8B) 12. Brandon Blackshear (McEwen 44) 13. Gary Miller, Jr. (1M) 14. Nate Young (42) 15. Brandon Fiedler (18) 16. Josh Ferry (Leamer 10)-DSQ 17. Gary Robinson (44R)-DNS 18. Case Harmon (09JR)-DSQ 19. Ed Roberts (6s)-DNS.
With the April 28 rain out, the first Menards “Super Series” event will now take place this Saturday night (May 12) for the first ever appearance by the FAST “410” Sprint Car Series racing for $3,000 to-win. It will also be the season debut for the Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars and HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. The Econo Mods will also return.
Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 19 for the annual FREE “Fan Appreciation Night” with free grandstand admission for everyone. This will now be the opener for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds. The Stock Cars, RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, and Econo Mods will also be on the card.
Sharon Speedway is owned by the Blaney, Weller, and Kirila Families and is a 3/8-mile dirt track located on Custer-Orangeville Road in Hartford, Ohio near the intersection of Routes 7 & 305. For more information, check out the website at www.sharonspeedway.com or call 330-772-5481. Become a fan of Sharon Speedway on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sharonspeedway and follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/sharonspdwy.