From Lonnie Wheatley
Little Rock, AR — (October 23, 2014) — It came down to a matter of inches, as Brian Brown rallied from 14th to nip Aaron Reutzel at the line in Thursday night’s 27th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires 25-lap preliminary feature at I-30 Speedway.
The dramatic finish put an exclamation point on a vintage STN night in which emotions ran high, and on at least a couple of occasion, boiled over. And it was ‘only’ Thursday night.
Throughout the entirety of the race, it seemed almost a certainty that Clute, TX, racer Reutzel would nab his fourth win in as many tries atop the high-banked, ¼-mile I-30 Speedway clay oval in 2014.
But there was Grain Valley, Missouri’s Brian Brown, the beneficiary of a pair of late two-car tangles. And “Blackjack” cashed-in in a big way, rallying from third on the green-white-checkered restart to beat Reutzel to the stripe by a foot at most. Dalton Davis crossed the stripe third to lock into Saturday’s $15,000-to-win, $2,500-to-start STN championship finale as well.
“I really didn’t think there was any way we could pull that off as far back as we started,” the driver of the FVP/Casey’s General Stores No. 21 Maxim said in victory lane.
“We don’t usually do that well on quarter-miles, but my guys gave me a great car and it made me look half way decent tonight,” Brown said.
While Brown started the feature outside the seventh row, Reutzel outgunned pole starter Davis for the point at the drop of the green and paced the early rounds ahead of Davis and Brandon Hanks.
Just as Reutzel was reaching a gaggle of cars at the tail of the field, the race’s first caution flew after nine laps when Minnesota’s Ryan Bowers slipped off the top of turn one.
With open track, Reutzel took off in the BC Fundz No. 87 Triple-X with Jerrod Hull battling past Hanks for third by the midway point.
Running ninth with 15 laps down and still only seventh with five to go, Brown’s fortunes turned for the good just as quickly as an apparent win came into question for Reutzel.
Brown gained a pair of positions to move up to fifth when Hanks and Kevin Swindell tangled in turn three while battling for fifth with two laps to go and then another pair to third when Hull and Tim Crawley got together in turn four, with the latter tangle resulting in an impromptu wrestling match much to the delight of the large crowd.
Set for a green-white-checkered run to the stripe, Brown rode the top of the track to perfection and precariously slipped the familiar No. 21 Sprint Car between Reutzel and the outer frontstretch wall in the mad dash to the line.
“I wasn’t sure if I should try to go through there and risk wrecking it or not, but then I was almost alongside him so I was committed,” Brown said after locking into his sixth career STN championship finale and first since 2010.
Inches away from a fourth consecutive I-30 triumph, Reutzel settled for second and locked into his second career STN finale and first since 2011. “I wanted to win, I was wanting to move up there but I knew I was a little too late.”
Memphis-area darkhorse contender Davis brought his No. 12d machine across the stripe third to make the cut for his first STN finale. It was his second third-place run in as many nights after also taking the final step of the podium in Wednesday STN Open.
Steering clear of the late race chaos, Conroe, TX, racer Ray Allen Kulhanek crossed the stripe fourth with Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s Alex Sewell rounding out the top five.
I-30 regular Cody Gardner was sixth, with Ohio’s Shawn Dancer, New York’s Jason Barney, Tulsa’s Sean McClelland and South Dakota’s Eric Lutz completing the top ten.
Jeff Swindell, Kevin Swindell, Matthew Bauldwin, Channin Tankersley and Lance Moss topped heat race action for the 37-car field with Sewell, Reutzel, Gardner and McClelland winning the qualifying races.
Lutz and Barney won the 12-lap “B” Mains.
Klint Angelette’s weekend came to an early end when he sailed off the top of turn four and into the wilderness in the second heat race. The driver was uninjured although the car suffered heavy damage.
Tankersley went for a wild ride off turn two in the third qualifier after contact between fellow heat race winner Jeff Swindell and Ryan Bowers. While Tankersley was done, Swindell was disqualified for rough driving. Visibly upset with the call, Swindell missed the call for his “B” Main.
The second half of the 27th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by COMP Cams field will take to I-30 Speedway’s ¼-mile clay oval on Friday night to finish setting the stage for Saturday night’s slate of STN Championship action.
27th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires Thursday Night Results:
First Heat (10 Laps): 1. 94-Jeff Swindell, 2. 99h-Jerrod Hull, 3. 5-Eric Lutz, 4. 87r-Aaron Reutzel, 5. 93-Dustin Morgan, 6. 74e-Claud Estes, 7. 17-Josh Baughman, 8. 10b-Mitch Brown.
Second Heat (10 Laps): 1. 01-Kevin Swindell, 2. 21T-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 3. 199-Ryan Bowers, 4. 91a-Ernie Ainsworth, 5. 23-Seth Bergman, 6. 15J-Jeremy Middleton, 7. 13-Taylor Tidmore, 8. 19-Klint Angelette.
Third Heat (10 Laps): 1. 43-Matthew Bauldwin, 2. 7m-Chance Morton, 3. 87b-Jason Barney, 4. 21b-Brian Brown, 5. 17g-Cody Gardner, 6. 10m-Morgan Turpen, 7. 9$-Kyle Clark.
Fourth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 17T-Channin Tankersley, 2. 3h-Brandon Hanks, 3. 14z-Zach Pringle, 4. 88-Tim Crawley, 5. 1m-Sean McClelland, 6. 99J-Blake Jenkins. DNS: 33h-Mark Huddleston.
Fifth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 23m-Lance Moss, 2. 12d-Dalton Davis, 3. 8-Alex Sewell, 4. 49-Shawn Dancer, 5. 4-Stevie Smith, 6. 21-Kevin Hinkle, 7. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr.
Qualifying Races – Top 14 in Combined Passing/Finishing Points to “A” Feature; Balance to “B” Mains
First Qualifier (10 Laps): 1. 8-Alex Sewell, 2. 21b-Brian Brown, 3. 12d-Dalton Davis, 4. 87b-Jason Barney, 5. 21T-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 6. 4-Stevie Smith, 7. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 8. 23m-Lance Moss, 9. 21-Kevin Hinkle.
Second Qualifier (10 Laps): 1. 87r-Aaron Reutzel, 2. 91a-Ernie Ainsworth, 3. 88-Tim Crawley, 4. 93-Dustin Morgan, 5. 01-Kevin Swindell, 6. 5-Eric Lutz, 7. 74e-Claud Estes, 8. 15J-Jeremy Middleton. DNS: 19-Klint Angelette.
Third Qualifier (10 Laps): 1. 17g-Cody Gardner, 2. 49-Shawn Dancer, 3. 17-Josh Baughman, 4. 10m-Morgan Turpen, 5. 199-Ryan Bowers, 6. 7m-Chance Morton, 7. 17T-Channin Tankersley, 8. 94-Jeff Swindell (Disqualified for rough driving). DNS: 13-Taylor Tidmore.
Fourth Qualifier (10 Laps): 1. 1m-Sean McClelland, 2. 23-Seth Bergman, 3. 3h-Brandon Hanks, 4. 14z-Zach Pringle, 5. 99h-Jerrod Hull, 6. 43-Matthew Bauldwin, 7. 10b-Mitch Brown, 8. 9$-Kyle Clark, 9. 99J-Blake Jenkins.
“B” Features – Top 3 from Each Advance to “A” Feature
First “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 5-Eric Lutz, 2. 10m-Morgan Turpen, 3. 17-Josh Baughman, 4. 7m-Chance Morton, 5. 10b-Mitch Brown, 6. 4-Stevie Smith, 7. 74e-Claud Estes, 8. 43-Matthew Bauldwin, 9. 21-Kevin Hinkle. DNS: 94-Jeff Swindell, 19-Klint Angelette.
Second “B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 87b-Jason Barney, 2. 14z-Zach Pringle, 3. 199-Ryan Bowers, 4. 93-Dustin Morgan, 5. 23m-Lance Moss, 6. 15J-Jeremy Middleton, 7. 99J-Blake Jenkins, 8. 9$-Kyle Clark. DNS: 17T-Channin Tankersley, 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 13-Taylor Tidmore.
“A” Feature – Top 3 Finishers Locked into Saturday night’s $15,000 to win STN Finale.
A Feature (25 Laps – Starting position in parentheses): 1. 21b-Brian Brown (14), 2. 87r-Aaron Reutzel (2), 3. 12d-Dalton Davis (1), 4. 21T-Ray Allen Kulhanek (9), 5. 8-Alex Sewell (3), 6. 17g-Cody Gardner (12) 7. 49-Shawn Dancer (8), 8. 87b-Jason Barney (16), 9. 1m-Sean McClelland (13), 10. 5-Eric Lutz (15), 11. 91a-Ernie Ainsworth (7), 12. 01-Kevin Swindell (5), 13. 14z-Zach Pringle (18), 14. 10m-Morgan Turpen (17), 15. 17-Josh Baughman (19), 16. 199-Ryan Bowers (20), 17. 3h-Brandon Hanks (4), 18. 99h-Jerrod Hull (6), 19. 88-Tim Crawley (10), 20. 23-Seth Bergman (11).
Lap Leaders: Aaron Reutzel 1-24, Brian Brown 25.