KNOXVILLE, IA (August 6, 2022): Aaron Reutzel raced to victory in the finale of the 32nd Annual Knoxville 360 Nationals. By leading all thirty laps, his winnings were $30,000, split evenly between the purse and lap money.
“We had a very good car at the start, but not so good at the end,” Reutzel said. “We were struggling at the end. I knew probably someone was coming, but that’s how I wanted the race to play out. I wanted to go green to checker, so I could run in lapped traffic and try to hide a little bit. We were able to get up front and make the best of it. It all worked out good.”
Regulars from the Knoxville Raceway dominated the front rows of the A Main starting lineup, which was based on the unique Nationals point system. Points are awarded for each competitive event–time trials, heat races, and qualifying night feature events–and the driver with the highest total starts on the pole. That honor belonged to Lynton Jeffrey. To his right was Reutzel. In row two were Clint Garner and Terry McCarl. Brain Brown and Ayrton Gennetten were in row three. Sam Hafertepe was the first outsider, and he started in seventeen next to the defending race champion, Giovanni Scelzi. Christopher Thram and Wayne Johnson made up row five, followed by Thomas Kennedy and Cory Eliason.
Reutzel carried a lot of speed into turn one and he rode the rim to take a modest lead over Jeffrey. Garner, Brown, and McCarl battled for the third position. Gennetten and Hafertepe watched the action unfold.
Reutzel began to pull away from Jeffrey while the battle amongst Brown, Garner, and McCarl became more intense when Hafertepe entered the fray. Hafertepe had the dominant car through the middle stage of the race, and he began to move forward.
Hafertepe made contact with Garner in turn two while moving into the third position with fourteen laps complete. Both drivers kept their cars under control, and they separated quickly and without any further incident. Garner fell back a bit, but, as the race wore on, he picked up speed again.
Meanwhile, Hafertepe pulled away unscathed and soon he was challenging Jeffrey for the second position. Hafertepe did take over second at the midpoint in the race, but he was more than two and a half seconds behind the leader.
As Hafertepe began to whittle away at the lead, the tension was beginning to build. It was obvious that Reutzel was fighting a loose car the last ten laps and Hafetepe was coming. The question was whether he would have enough time to catch and pass the leader.
Hafertepe cut the margin to under a second. With two laps remaining, he got the car up onto the inside berm between turns three and four. He scrubbed off some speed when the car got a little sideways. Although that miscue gave Reutzel some needed breathing space, Hafertepe came back on the final lap. He drew near to Reutzel entering turn one. But Reutzel had the better line and he was able to keep his momentum up as he rolled through the first and second turns.
Reutzel had a couple of car lengths on Hafertepe as they raced toward turn three. He took the checkers 0.725 seconds ahead of his fellow Texan.
Garner rebounded for third, followed by Jeffrey and McCarl. Brown slipped back to sixth. Eliason, Gennetten, Chase Randall, and Scelzi completed the top ten.
“We could have used a caution or anything,” Hafertepe observed. “He (Reutzel) drove a pretty good race and got through lapped traffic pretty well.” Hafertepe added that Reutzel got to spend a lot of time in clean air. He was apologetic about his scuffle with Garner in the second corner. “I got into Clint, which I didn’t mean to do. I was running in the middle and hitting a little patch of moisture and I missed it and got up into him. I didn’t want to race him like that.”
Garner downplayed his achievement. “The car was fast, you know. I did my best to do what I could there. I definitely felt like the ultimate underdog again here. When I stood in the lineup to do the introductions, there were a lot of great racecar drivers. Most of them could be the best or one of the best in the country. I’m privileged to be here . . . and I’m glad to be up here talking with you guys.” He assigned no blame at all to Hafertepe for the incident in turn two. “Good drivers know what they are doing and I knew what I was doing. We both kept them under control.” In fact, Garner took some of the responsibility himself, noting that he should have backed out but he did not want to give up another position.
Randall was named the Rookie of the Race and the Hard Charger. He passed nine cars in the contest. He netted an extra $1,000 for those awards.
The all-features format got off to a rocky start. A couple of cautions punctuated the E Main, which was won by Jett Carney. The D Main had two vicious accidents on the initial attempts to start that race. Seth Brehmer and Ryan Bowers collided head-on at full speed in the middle of the frontstretch. After a delay for fence repairs, a six-car pile-up occurred in turn one, with several cars flipping and one landing on top of another car. Fortunately no drivers were injured in either incident, but nine cars were eliminated in the process. Justin Sanders grabbed the win. The C Main win went to Kaleb Johnson, and Tyler Courtney scored the B Main victory. Sye Lynch was the only driver to race in three of the feature events, ending his night in the C Main.
Determined Dewease Destroys Port Royal in Night Two of Tusky 50 Weekend
PORT ROYAL, PA (September 9, 2022): Lance Dewease romped to an impressive win on night two of the Tuscarora 50 weekend at Port Royal Speedway. The $10,000 win was number one hundred twenty-one in his career, putting him just eight wins behind Keith Kauffman on the track’s all-time list. For Dewease, it was his ninth Port Royal triumph against the All Stars in the fifty-nine races held at the Speed Palace, and his fourty-third career triumph with the touring series.
Dewease stamped himself as one of the favorites to take home the $60,000 winner’s share that will be on the line Saturday night. He has seven career wins in the classic, more than any other driver.
“It was a really good car last night, and it was good all night. We just timed sixth against a good group.” On this night, he timed second second in his group, which put him on the pole of his heat race. Although he had another tough group to race against, he had a much better starting position and easily won the preliminary to lock into the dash. While he did not get a good pill draw, he did pick up a couple of positions to move ahead in the feature line-up.
Dewease explained that his veteran crew made a motor change during the day and that they wanted to see how it would perform. The team also made a few other changes which he did not disclose. He added, “they know what they need to do to make it better.”
Dewease noted that the car does not like the dirty air. “I didn’t do a good job last night staying out of the dirty air. I did a better job with that (tonight). I was pretty good tonight keeping the wing loaded.”
Dewease mentioned that he got a break on a pair of lap eleven restarts. On the first try, Dewease entered the corner low to try to pass Giovanni Scelzi for second, and Danny Dietrich was able to sail past Dewease on the high side. But a multi-car wreck in the middle of the pack in turn one wiped that pass out and Dewease altered his strategy for the second go at it. That time, he entered the first corner in the middle and Dietrich did not have as much room to make a run on the outside. Dewease held third and then he went to work on Scelzi.
After dispatching Scelzi rather quickly, it only took Dewease three more laps to pass Brian Brown for the lead. “I didn’t want to show Brian a lane,” Dewease said. By the time Brown knew Dewease was down on the guardrail, the pass was history.
Dietrich used the high line to pass Brown about a lap later, and he was reeling in Dewease. The fans were ready for a full tilt fight for the lead in the waning laps, but Dietrich suddenly slowed coming off turn two on lap twenty-two. He stopped to bring out a caution. He went to the work area with teh assistance of a push vehicle, but the car was sitting down on teh right rear corner with apparent suspension damage that could not be repaired.
By winning the dash handily, Brown started from the pole. Scelzi was on his flank. Behind them were Cory Eliason and Kasey Kahne. Dietrich and Tyler Courtney lined up in the third row, followed by Brent Marks and Lance Dewease. Justin Peck and Rico Abreu were in row five, as the last of the dash competitors. Austin Bishop and Sye Lynch represented the millennials well in row six.
Brown, Scelzi, Courtney, Dietrich and Eliason led the way atthe start. Kahne, Marks, Dewease, Lynch, and Abreu followed. Dietrich slipped into third on lap two and he started to close on Scelzi when the first caution was displayed for Zeb Wise five laps into the contest.
Two laps after the race resumed, Dietrich was riding second, but Dewease was up to fourth and he was clearly the fastest car on the track at that time. Dewease sparred with Dietrich for a couple of laps before assuming the third position.
Another stoppage for Bill Balog set up the pair of restarts with eleven laps in the books. The first start was called off because of the chaos in turn one involving Lynch, Kahne, Bishop, and Mike Wagner. Wagner got airborne after running over the left front wheel that came off Lynch’s car. Wagner’s car was struck by two other cars while in the air and it briefly hung up on the tin that sits above the tiers of Armco barriers that ring the first and second turns. Fortunately, none of the drivers were injured in the wreck.
When the race officially resumed, Dewease was on a mission. He passed Scelzi for second on lap thirteen and Brown for the lead three laps later. Dietrich followed his advance, but he was several car lengths behind Dewease. The anticipated battle between Dewease and Dietrich never materialized, though, because of a mechanical failure.
Dewease easily outdistanced Brown over the final eight laps. Scelzi crossed in third. Marks briefly challenged for that position, but Scelzi was able to hold him off. Peck snuck by Marks for fourth in the final rounds. Positions six through ten went to Courtney, Dylan Cisney, Justin Whittal, Anthony Macri, and Eliason.
Whittal was the hard charger, coming from twenty-fourth to eighth.
“We were a third place car,” Brown said. He added that he was in the right place when Dietrich broke. Nevertheless, he was pleased with his run and he was looking forward to the fifty lapper on Saturday.
By starting the A Main with a provisional, Logan Wagner was named the 410 Sprint Car champion atthe speedway for the fifth time in his career.
The five heat winners were Eliason, Kahne, Dewease, Dietrich, and Abreu. Abreu battled Macri in the early going, but Macri made hard contact with the wall followed by a 360 between turns one and two. Somehow, he kept the car going and limped into the work area. Although the right rear tire was replaced, other damage prevented his return. Macri rebounded for the B Main victory. The C Main winner was Zach Hampton. For the second night in a row, Courtney was the fastest qualifier. His lap time was 16.225 seconds.
In the Super Late Model feature, veteran Jason Covert picked up the win. Although he started on the pole, he lost the lead at the start to his dancing partner, Mike Lupfer. Lupfer led the first ten laps before Covert took control. Once in the lead, Covert disappeared from the field.
In the second half of the race, Lupfer had an extended battle with Hayes Mattern for the second position. Lupfer held him off, though. Taking fourth at the end of the race was Colton Flinner. That assured him of his first track title. Gary Stuhler, who had a mathematical chance of taking the crown, was fifth. Last year’s titleholder, Dylan Yoder, was sixth. Gene Knaub, Trever Feathers, Dillan Stake, and Deshawn Gingerich rounded out the top ten in the non-stop affair.
Late Model preliminaries went to Lupfer, Yoder, and Flinner. There was no B Main.
Macri Masters Port Royal Tusky Opener
PORT ROYAL, PA (September 8, 2022): Anthony Macri celebrated the return to his familiar, family-owned mount by steering it into victory lane on the opening night of the Tuscarora 50 weekend at Port Royal Speedway. The $8,000 victory was his eighteenth of the season overall.
“We spent a month on the road and we got our butts kicked a little bit, but I learned a lot, different scenarios and tracks,” Macri noted. Truth be told, his experience behind the wheel of the Sam McGhee Motorsports number 11 was not all bad. He did chalk up a win with the car at the Bedford Speedway a couple of weeks ago. But, you could tell that he was more comfortable, and more aggressive, in his own car.
Macri fell back at the beginning of the race. While that may have concerned some, it was all part of his strategy to save his tires. He noted how tires worn in the heat races, and he wanted to make sure that he had enough rubber to go the distance. Conserving tires will be even more important in the big fifty lapper that will close out the fifty-fifth running of the Tuscarora 50.
“I wanted to play the beginning of the race calm and cool,” he explained. He dropped to third behind Bill Balog and Danny Dietrich. “Balog got out there and I decided , I knew, it was time to go.” And, once he got going, there was no stopping him.
Dietrich, who finished second, quipped, “I kept Anthony honest up until lap twenty-two. Then I came up on some lapped cars. They were running three abreast, a lot of dirty air.” Nonetheless, Dietrich was pleased with his performance. “That’s the best by far that this car has been up here. It really stuck in the middle.”
Perhaps the fastest car on the track in the second half of the race, though, was the Zemco number 1 driven by Logan Wagner. Wagner, who is seeking his fifth track championship this weekend, came on strong to take the third position. Wagner was disappointed with his run in the dash, which was only good enough to put him eighth on the grid. “I feel if I had capitalized a little better in the dash and put ourselves into a better position . . .” his voice trailing off.
Balog was on the pole as a result of his dash win. Macri was his wingman. Justin Peck and Dietrich occupied row two. Giovanni Scelzi and Mike Wagner were in row three. Jeff Halligan was slated to start inside row four, but when he had a fuel pump problem, he had to borrow a car to start at the rear of the field. That moved Lucas Wolfe up a row and placed him beside Logan Wagner. Justin Whittal and Cory Eliason made up row five. Freddy Rahmer, Jr. and Brian Borown were paired in row six.
The talent laden field included Brent Marks in row seven, Lance Dewease and Rico Abreu in row nine, Tyler Courtney in row ten, and Dylan Cisney in row ten.
Balog led Macri into turn one, with Dietrich fighting Peck for third. Dietrich prevailed, and he immediately pressured Macri for the second spot. Dietrich to that on lap two. Macri regained the second spot as the field completed lap five.
Meanwhile, Balog was setting a blistering pace. He was more than two seconds ahead of Macri at one point. However, Macri tracked him down and assumed command on lap eight. Soon thereafter, Dietrich took over second again and he began to reel in Macri.
By the halfway mark, Balog was fading. The top five included Macri, Dietrich, Peck, Mike Wagner, and Scelzi. Logan Wagner was sixth. After Balog came Whittal, Abreu and Marks. Dewease was up to eleventh and he was stalking Marks for a position in the top ten.
Logan Wagner picked up speed as the race went on. He was up to fourth by lap twenty and third by lap twenty-five. While he continued to close in on Dietrich, he was unable to make a move for second in the final rounds.
At the checkers, it was Macri over Dietrich, Logan Wagner, Peck, and Mike Wagner. Whittal was sixth, followed by Scelzi, Abreu, Dewease, and Marks.
Heat wins went to Balog, Eliason, Wolfe, Dietrich, and Halligan. The C Main went to Zach Hampton, with Courtney taking the B Main. The evening’s fastest qualifier was Courtney, who turned in a lap of 16.371 seconds.
In the PASS 305 Sprint undercard, it was Garrett Bard who was the third and final leader of the event. Drew Young started on the pole and led the first ten laps. However, he withdrew from the race after taking the crossed flags. That put Zach Rhodes into the lead, which he held for six rounds before giving way to Bard.
Rhodes held on for second, followed by Mike Melair, Ken Duke, and Jeff Weaver. Justin Mills, Scott Frack, Jimmy White, Tyler Snook, and Josh Spicer completed the top ten.
Bard, Rhodes, Mills, and Frack were the heat winners. The twin B Mains went to Kenny Heffner and Chad Phillips. The second B Main had a wild, three-car crash on the opening lap. Fortunately, none of the drivers were injured in the melee.
Rahmer Races to Sixth Win and $7,000 at Lincoln Speedway
ABBOTTSTOWN, PA (September 3, 2022): Freddie Rahmer, Jr. caught the breaks and held off the challenges of Troy Wagaman, Jr. to score his sixth victory of the season at the Fabulous Lincoln Speedway. The tribute to Elijah Hawkins, a child who succumbed to burn injuries in 2021, was worth $7,000 to the third generation driver from Salfordsville, PA.
Also celebrating in victory lane were Wyatt Hinkle in the 358 Sprint Cars and Travis Perry in the Central PA Legends.
“We got fortunate enough to win that one,” a relieved Rahmer said. “We weren’t good enough.” Rahmer explained that he wasn’t comfortable racing up against the big curb that developed in turns one and two, but that when he went to the inside and pulled his wing back, he was unable to get down the straights and he wasn’t able to get through turns one and two very well. “I could creep around turns three and four.”
Despite his complaints, Rahmer was good enough to keep Troy Wagaman, Jr. at bay. His efforts in that regard were aided by a couple of well-timed cautions, which cleared the lapped traffic. Rahmer was decent enough in clean air to maintain his lead. And, while Wagaman was able to close in on him in traffic, Wagaman could not pull off the pass before another caution would come out.
“I thought that I had it there,” Wagaman noted of one particular circumstance on lap nineteen. Wagaman added, “I didn’t want to show him the bottom too early. I had him before that incident.”
The incident to which Wagaman referred happened in turn one when he made a strong inside move on Rahmer and got a nose ahead. Rahmer was committed to the middle, but when a lapped car came up on him, his evasive maneuver took him into another lapped car, that of Chris Arnold, who took a nasty tumble as a result of their contact. “I didn’t mean to get into that lapped car, but an apology doesn’t fix nothing,” Rahmer noted.
Rahmer was restored to the point for the ensuing restart and, as happened at least two other times, he was able to scoot away from Wagaman in clean air.
Rahmer Jr. had the pole by the luck of the draw in this Speedweek format event. Next to him was Tim Glatfelter. Chad Trout and Robbie Kendall lined up behind them. Troy Wagaman, Jr. and Dylan Norris were paired in the thord row. Zane Rudisill and Brandon Rahmer started from wow four. Kyle Moody and Aaron Bollinger made up row five. The sixth matched Arnold with Jimmy Siegel.
Rahmer bolted out to the early lead over Glatfelter, Wagaman Jr., Trout, Norris, and Kendall. A caution just four laps into the contest bunched the field again.
Rahmer resumed the lead, with Galtfelter holding second again over Wagaman Jr. Norris moved up a notch, and then Glatfelter began to struggle. He fell back several positions in the running order.
Dominic Melair tumbled in between turns one and two for the next stoppage of the race on lap ten. On the restart, Wagaman Jr. stayed close to Rahmer Jr. Entering turn one on lap twelve, Wagaman made his first feint to the inside. However, Rahmer had enough momentum up top to maintain his advantage.
Rahmer Jr. began to separate himself from Wagaman Jr, who was searching around to find a quicker line. When the leaders encountered slower cars, though, Wagaman was able to close in on the leader. On lap nineteen, Wagaman had a good run coming off the inside of turn four. While Rahmer still crossed the scoring loop in front, Wagaman had the better corner entry and got ahead slightly. Rahmer checked up for a lapper that crossed his nose and there was heavy contact between Rahmer’s right rear tire and Arnold’s left front. Arnold went hard into the wall in one and flipped wildly. Fortunately, he was not hurt in the wreck.
Rahmer had the point again and led Wagaman. As the laps wound down, Wagaman started to close in again in traffic. He was ready to strike when the caution came out with three laps remaining in the contest.
Rahmer was able to complete the final rounds without another challenge from Wagaman. Taking third was Norris. Fourth went to Chase Dietz, who passed a dozen competitors in the thirty-five lapper. Dietz received an extra $250 for the effort. Trout crossed in fifth. Glatfelter, Brandon Rahmer, Moody, Tyler Ross, and Siegel completed the top ten.
There were three heats this night for the 410 Sprints. Taking the $100 wins were Kendall, Glatfelter, and Norris. There was no B Main. Rahmer Jr. also snagged a $250 bonus for setting the fast time, with a lap of 13.328 seconds.
A caution on the initial lap and then a six-car pile-up on the second attempted start marred the beginning of the 358 Sprint Car feature. Two cars flipped, but neither Jordan Strickler nor C.J. Tracy were injured. However, once the race officially began, it ran off without a hitch.
Wyatt Hinkle grabbed the lead from the pole position over Frankie Herr, Nat Tuckey, and Dave Holbrook. By lap five, Chris Frank took over second, followed by Herr, Kody Hartlaub, and Tuckey. Soon thereafter, Tuckey began to slide back in the field.
Hinkle and Frank threaded their way through traffic over the second half of the race. Frank drew close but could never find an opening to make a bid for the lead.
Hinkle crossed the scoring loop first at the end of the twenty laps. Frank was second, followed by Hartlaub, Herr, and Holbrook. Hayden Miller, Jeff Rohrbaugh, Logan Rumsey, Cody Fletcher, and Steve Owings were sixth through tenth.
Hinkle dedicated the win to his late brother, who would have turned thirty on this day.
The four heat winners were Hinkle, Herr, Holbrook, and Rumsey. There was no B Main.
In the Central PA Legends, Travis Perry made a last lapp pass to defeat Travis McClelland by 0.024 seconds for the win. Stephen Wurtzer, Bill Diehl, and Chris Transeau rounded out the top five. Nest to cross were Shaun Abney, Brent Marquis, Aaron Updegraff, Preston Alleman, and Choya Young.
McClelland locked himself into the A Main with a fast timed hot lap of 20.032 seconds. The twin non-qualifier races went to Aaron Updegraff and Cody Altland. A banner field of fourty-six Legends signed in for this event.
Next weekend, there will be no Sprint Cars racing at Lincoln Speedway due to the Tuscarora 50 at Port Royal Speedway. The Super Late Models will race for $4,000. They will be joined by the Wingless Sportsmen, and two divisions of Stockers. Then, on Saturday, September 17 will be Dirt Classic IX, sanctioned by the All Stars Circuit of Champions. Karts and motorcycles will compete on September 24 and October 1, respectively. The 410 Sprints will be back on October 4 for the Brian Montieth Tribute.