MECHANICSBURG, Pa. – There’s one thing Aaron Reutzel believes he needs to be able to win the prestigious Champion Racing Oil National Open at Williams Grove Speedway this weekend.
Reutzel wants a front-row starting spot in a heat race. If he gets one, he believes he can win the National Open’s $65,000 winner’s share.
“I know that’s kind of out there to say,” Reutzel said. “But we’ve been fast there.”
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series is returning to Williams Grove Speedway on Oct. 4-5 for the 57th Champion Racing Oil National Open.
Reutzel, of Clute, Texas, is coming off the high of back to back podium finishes with the World of Outlaws and ending the All Star Circuit of Champions Series season with 16 wins and his second title in-a-row – in just his second full-time year in a 410-c.i. sprint car.
“To do what we did last year was unreal and to do what we did this year is just unreal,” Reutzel said. “The things we’ve accomplished this year. To get two in-a-row is pretty special.”
Two of Reutzel’s All Star wins this year came at Williams Grove Speedway. However, he noted that he and his Baughman-Reutzel Motorsports team have struggled to qualify well at the half-mile.
However, his confidence stems from the speed he’s had at the Pennsylvania track all year, especially when it got slick and the lap times slowed – a specialty of the competitive local Pennsylvania drivers like Lance Dewease, who won the National Open last year.
“We were fast there on 20-second lap times,” Reutzel said. “That’s hard to do because that’s those (Pennsylvania) guys’ bread and butter. That’s when they stand out. So, I feel like if we get qualified well, we have a shot.”
This time, however, he’ll have to deal with the Pennsylvania Posse and the World of Outlaws. David Gravel and Donny Schatz won at the track earlier this year, and both have won the National Open several times.
Gravel has won the National Open twice, most recently in 2017, and Schatz has done so five times, with his last coming in 2012.
Schatz is also in the middle of a tight points battle with Brad Sweet for the World of Outlaws championship. He trails Sweet by 40 points with 10 races left in the season.
Reutzel has already made a name for himself with the World of Outlaws, grabbing his second career Outlaw win at Perris Auto Speedway in March and setting a new track record at Jacksonville Speedway.
With the All Star season concluded, Reutzel intends to run the remainder of the World of Outlaws schedule, minus the races at Terre Haute Action Track and Tri-State Speedway.
Running with the World of Outlaws is a privilege Reutzel enjoys. Being competitive against them makes it even more gratifying.
“This is the best. The best of the best,” Reutzel said. “You don’t get any better than this right here. So, to run with then and run good with them night in, night out. We’ve struggled to go night in, night out. We have good runs and then we have bad runs. When you do have a few good ones in-a-row you see where you compare with them. So, it’s really cool when you come out and run podium and get a win.”
With the success Reutzel has had behind the wheel of a 410 Sprint Car the past two years, some have questioned if the Texan will make the move to run full-time with the World of Outlaws.
His answer: “Yeah, at some point for sure. Not yet though.”
Reutzel admitted he considered joining the Outlaw tour this year, but with his two-year-old daughter still a few years away from starting school full-time, he said he wants to spend as much time with her as he can before then. Once she’s in school full-time, he’ll consider making the move – about four years from now, he said.
First, he’ll focus on trying to spoil the World of Outlaws and PA Posse rivalry Saturday, and trying to pocket a $65,000 payday along the way.