photo and article by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher
Redemption. On the third race of the “Jailbreak” tour, Aaron Reutzel and RSR Racing found themselves in victory lane at Wayne County for the Pete Jacobs Memorial. Cheers and boos came down from the stands as Reutzel pulled into victory lane, but Reutzel and Co. had 15,000 reasons to smile. Reutzel passed Cap Henry on lap 11 and never looked back.
Coming to the 40 lap feature, it was Cap Henry and Henry Malcuit that paced the field to green. Henry jumped out to the early lead, while Reutzel passed Cale Thomas for third. Henry established a .831 second lead on lap five before the red came out for an incident that took out Trey Jacobs, Sammy Swindell, and Ricky Peterson.
On the ensuing restart, Henry held his ground, but Malcuit didn’t let the Lane Racing No. 4 out of his sight. The red flag came out once again for Marcus Dumesny, who was tipped over in turn two. The next restart was better for Malcuit. He threw a slider at Henry in turns one and two, but it didn’t stick and Henry gapped Malcuit by .557 seconds. Malcuit showed Henry a nose on lap eight in turns three and four, and they were side-by-side at the line. The next lap, Henry bicycled in turns three and four giving Malcuit a shot at the lead, but Malcuit hit an infield tire, knocking out his front end, and knocking him out of contention.
This promoted Aaron Reutzel to second, and a battle for the lead broke out on the restart. Reutzel threw a slider at Henry, but Henry cut back underneath down the backstretch and held Reutzel off… for that lap. Laps 10 and 11 saw the same sequence of events play out, but on lap 11, Reutzel made the pass stick coming out of turn four.
“I knew I was getting better and better, but I didn’t know if I just caught Cap on a restart or if I was truly better than him,” said Retuzel. “I slid him once and he got by me, but I was able to keep getting at him, so I felt like we must’ve been pretty good.”
Henry lost second to Cale Thomas on lap 13 while Reutzel had built a 1.339 second lead. Thomas was reeling Reutzel in by about a tenth a lap before Reutzel caught the back of the field and actually gained time on Thomas.
As Reutzel worked through lapped traffic, his gap to Thomas stayed between 1.5-1.8 seconds until lap 28. Thomas took four tenths out of Reutzels lead to cut it to 1.141 seconds, and it seemed like Thomas was going to have something for Reutzel. But, on lap 30, Thomas smacked the wall in turns one and two, wreaking havoc on his right rear suspension. This bumped Reutzel’s lead back up to 1.900 seconds as the caution, and subsequent red for fuel came out, setting up a ten lap shootout for $15,000.
There were two new names ready to play: Tim Shaffer and Jac Haudenschild. Shaffer was sitting third after starting sixteenth. Haudenschild made some vintage Wild Child-esque moves, and found himself in fifth as the final red came out, this time for Dean Jacobs. On the final restart, Reutzel pulled away as Thomas had his hands full with Shaffer. Shaffer would end up getting by Thomas, and he brought Haudenschild with him. The two legends waged war for second, as Reutzel built a sizable lead. Reutzel cruised to a 3.226 second win over Shaffer and Haudenschild to pick up the win in his third race back.
“I saw Shaf got to second in the last few laps, so I was really concerned about another yellow because Shaf’s an aggressive guy on restarts and I didn’t want him behind me,” Reutzel said with a relieved chuckle.
For Reutzel, it was good to be in victory lane, especially after two nights of struggles in Attica: “It took a little bit of seeing what I needed, and what the car needed. We were off pretty bad those first two nights, but me and [Tyler] Swank just kept working on it. I kept telling him what I felt, and he kept changing stuff,” said the Texas native Reutzel.
“All night I felt like I had a really good car. We were right where we needed to be for the A. I was a little concerned early because the car felt tight, but the fuel load came off and the back of the car got up and it took off,” continued Reutzel.
“So far, we’re having a whole lot of fun, even after our first two nights at Attica. It was straight to Buffalo Wild Wings, we had some drinks, kind of laughed about things, and me and Swank talked things over, and I’m really looking forward to the future here.”