From Bryan Hulbert
RAPID CITY, SD — (July 22, 2016) — For the second year running, Johnny Herrera parked his Mesilla Valley Transportation No. 45x in Victory Lane at the Black Hills Speedway, winning the opening night of the Rushmore Rumble at the South Dakota Half-Mile with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by the MAVTV Motorsports Network for this third National Tour triumph of the season.
Herrera’s 16th career National Tour victory, the New Mexico native is the first repeat winner in Lucas Oil ASCS competition at the Black Hills Speedway.
Diving the bottom side from the pole position, Skylar Gee kept pace into the first turn, but it was Aaron Reutzel from fourth who hustled the high-side to the lead; only to see the caution displayed before the lap could be completed.
Commenting on the opening lap, Herrera said, “If that caution hadn’t come out, who knows how it would have shook out. You know, he got going there again and was good around the top so I went to the middle and slide the top to block his momentum, but he had it right but once that rubber came in, I knew if I would just be patient we’d be alright.”
Able to keep his challengers at bay on the ensuing restart, Herrera would hold the point the first two rounds before the Dissolvalloy No. 87 slid his way into the lead. Working top to bottom on the big half-mile, the pair began exchanging slide jobs for the lead with Herrera using traffic to his advantage to reclaim the top spot on the sixth round.
Caution with 16 laps to run for Wayne Johnson, the Oklahoma native would see his night end on the restart as a car in front of him bobbled on the restart.
With a slower car to his advantage on the restart, Herrera rolled away from Reutzel, but was at the back of the field in a matter of laps. Allowing Aaron to close the gap, the Clute, Texas driver mounted one final charge with six laps to run.
Rushing the center of the first turn, Aaron found the No. 45x trapped by slower cars. Pulling even with Johnny through the second turn, Herrera romped the throttle, splitting lapped cars going into the third turn.
“Once we got to those lapped cars, I did’t want to run too hard and blow a tire so I was just pacing and making sure we were good enough to get by, but when I saw Aaron make a run there, I knew I had better pick up the pace a little bit.”
Able to keep the No. 87 to a runner-up finish, the defending Lucas Oil ASCS Champion ended up crossing 0.580 seconds behind Herrera.
“I told Marty [Breiten] I was going to be a hero and go straight for the fence, and I showed them where to run but after that I was still able to get around them, but I just took the lead a little too early and allowed Johnny to search around and he found the rubber. I was able to get back by him, and I didn’t think the rubber was that low and missed it by half a car length and let Johnny back by me,” commented Reutzel.
“I had a shot at him later, but the middle got to dirty from the rubber, and just slide across the track and he got back by me and almost let Bellm by, but car wise I feel like we’re back where we were last year.”
Coming from 10th, Kyle Bellm’s return to the Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour resulted in a third place finish following several intense battles with Sam Hafertepe, Jr. and Seth Bergman to crack the top-five.
“I wanted to go out west with these guys this year, but it just wasn’t in the cards but I got to thank my buddy Cody for coming out there to finish out this swing,” commented Bellm who also thanked family and sponsors. “We’ll take a podium and try to improve a few spots tomorrow. We were terrible in the Heat Race. I just spun out by myself. I hated that Sam [Hafertepe] got caught up in my mistake there, but we came back and got it on the podium.”
Tangled up with Bellm in his Heat Race, Sam Hafertepe, Jr. rushed from seventh to second in the B-Main to transfer to the 18th starting spot. Advancing 14 position, the currentl Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour point’s leader crossed fourth to lock into Saturday’s championship A-Feature. Debuting a brand new ride to shakedown for Knoxville, Seth Bergman completed the top-five.
Matt Covington from ninth came up to a sixth place finish with Logan Forler charging from 17th to seventh to tie things up for fourth in tour standings with Johnson. After battling early for the lead, Skylar Gee slipped to an eighth place showing with D.J. Brink ninth and Kelly Miller tenth.
With 28 drivers checking in for the opening night of the Rushmore Rumble, four Heat Races went to Aaron Reutzel, Seth Bergman, Wayne Johnson, and Blake Hahn. The B-Feature was topped by Logan Forler. A regional provisional was used by David Hoiness.
The Rushmore Rumble at the Black Hills Speedway continues on Saturday, July 23, 2016 with a Driver Meet and Greet from 11:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. (MDT). Spectator Gates will open at 5:00 P.M. with races getting underway at 7:00 P.M. (MDT).
For continued updates on the Lucas Oil ASCS presented by the MAVTV Motorsports Network, log onto http://www.ascsracing.com.
ASCS National / ASCS Frontier
Black Hills Speedway – Rapid City, S.D.
Rushmore Rumble – Night 1
Friday, July 22, 2016
Car Count: 28
ButlerBuilt Heat Races (8 Laps, Top 16 in Passing Point advance to the A-Main)
Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 87-Aaron Reutzel; 2. 95-Matt Covington; 3. 45X-Johnny Herrera; 4. 2L-Logan Forler; 5. 2JR-Kelly Miller; 6. 77-Damon McCune; 7. 14-Ben Holmberg
Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 23-Seth Bergman; 2. 10-Anthony Farnsworth; 3. 14K-Kyle Bellm; 4. 2-Shad Petersen; 5. 15-James Sires; 6. (DNF) 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr; (DNS) 24R-Lany Reber
Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 2C-Wayne Johnson; 2. 99-Skylar Gee; 3. 13-Ryan Parks; 4. 29-Eric Flatmoe; 5. 4-Adam Speckman; 6. 27DD-David Hoiness; 7. (DNF) 7-Mike Sires
Heat 4 (8 Laps): 1. 52-Blake Hahn; 2. 75-D.J. Brink; 3. 0J-Jeremy McCune; 4. 6G-Bryan Gossel; 5. 77M-Nate Maxwell; 6. 3-Mike Pennel; 7. 2K-Kevin Ingle
BMRS B-Feature(s) (12 laps, top 6 advance to the A-Feature)
B Feature (12 Laps): 1. 2L-Logan Forler; 2. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr; 3. 4-Adam Speckman; 4. 77M-Nate Maxwell; 5. 15-James Sires; 6. 14-Ben Holmberg; 7. 7-Mike Sires; 8. 27DD-David Hoiness; 9. 77-Damon McCune; 10. 2K-Kevin Ingle; 11. 3-Mike Pennel; 12. 24R-Lany Reber
Protect the Harvest A-Feature (25 Laps, Top 4 into Saturday’s A-Main)
A Feature (25 Laps): 1. 45X-Johnny Herrera; 2. 87-Aaron Reutzel; 3. 14K-Kyle Bellm; 4. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr; 5. 23-Seth Bergman; 6. 95-Matt Covington; 7. 2L-Logan Forler; 8. 99-Skylar Gee; 9. 75-D.J. Brink; 10. 2JR-Kelly Miller; 11. 0J-Jeremy McCune; 12. 52-Blake Hahn; 13. 6G-Bryan Gossel; 14. 29-Eric Flatmoe; 15. 10-Anthony Farnsworth; 16. 14-Ben Holmberg; 17. 15-James Sires; 18. 77M-Nate Maxwell; 19. 2-Shad Petersen; (DNF) 2C-Wayne Johnson; (DFS) 13-Ryan Parks; (DNF) 27DD-David Hoiness; (DNF) 4-Adam Speckman
Lap Leader(s): Johnny Herrera 1-2, 6-25; Aaron Reutzel 3-5;
FSR High Point Driver: Wayne Johnson
Hard Charger: Sam Hafertepe, Jr. +14
Provisional(s): David Hoiness (Regional Prov.)