Reutzel Wins the Battle, Hafertepe Wins The War At Cocopah Speedway

Aaron Reutzel. (ASCS / Randy Hoeft Photo)
Aaron Reutzel. (ASCS / Randy Hoeft Photo)

From Bryan Hulbert

SOMERTON, Ariz. (November 12, 2016) – Winning out the 30 Lap game of Cat and Mouse at the Cocopah Speedway, Aaron Reutzel put an exclamation point on his year by winning the finale of the 2016 season with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by the MAVTV Motorsports Network over newly crowned champion, Sam Hafertepe, Jr.

“I kind of had a feeling the bottom was going to come in, but I didn’t want to abort what I’d been doing so well. All that was left was the fence. You can go look at it, it’s just pure wall so it was tough,” explained Reutzel when asked about the road to victory.

“I wanted to go to the bottom on the that restart, but I just decided to go back to the top and see if Sam showed us something and figured I could get back in but I just wasn’t as good on the bottom, and I figured, last race of the season with the National Tour; I would rather flip out of the park, than run second.”

Taking off from the third position, Reutzel stalked the Hwy. 79 Collision No. 15h from the start. Riding a deep cushion around the Cocopah Speedway, Reutzel pulled the trigger on Lap 7 with a slide job for the lead.

Leading one more lap before relinquishing the top spot to Hafertepe who returned the slide in kind on the ninth round, Aaron was quick to answer with a slide job of his own the following revolution.

Chasing down the tail of the field, Hafertepe was on the heels of the Dissolvalloy No. 87. Working the top and bottom groove as needed, Sam’s run on the No. 87 would begin to wane, but a caution on Lap 21 would bring the No. 15h back into the hunt.

Restarting with a slower car between them, Hafertepe made quick work of the lapped car. Committing to the bottom side of the Cocopah Speedway, Hafertepe and Reutzel were a near even match as Hafertepe worked under the No. 87 on Lap 22. Forcing Aaron off the cushion to block, Hafertepe rolled the center of turns one and two to lead the twenty-third rotation.

Returning to the cushion with a big run, Aaron all but rode the wall around the Cocopah Speedway to regain the lead on Lap 24. Wheel to wheel for several laps, Aaron finally gained the edge to win by 0.495.

On the choice of line and watching Aaron bounce of the wall, Sam stated, “Everyone was struggling on the cushion, but Aaron was able to manipulate it better than anyone else, and that’s way he won this race. That’s the kind of track he’s really good at, where it’s not really my forte. I’m more of a finesse guy and we get our car pretty tight, so it’s hard to really lean a curb like that but to get back by him there late, I thought we had him dead to rights but he kept digging and deserves the win.”

Crossing 5.831 seconds behind the leader, Washington’s Jason Solwold picked up his second podium of the weekend in the Scottie Pluming No. 18.

Johnny Herrera ended his season with a fourth place finish in the Mesilla Valley Transportation No. 45x with Seth Bergman crossing fifth in the Corridor Electric No. 23. Pennsylvania’s Ryan Smith crossed sixth for car owner, Ryan Linder with Blake Hahn coming from 15th to seventh. Dominic Scelzi was eighth with Mason Moore coming from 18th to ninth. Colby Copeland completing the top-ten.

With 37 drivers checking in, Heat Races were won by Logan Forler, Blake Hahn, Colby Copeland, and Roger Crockett. Qualifiers were topped by Thomas Kennedy, Wayne Johnson, and Ryan Smith. B-Main wins went to Logan Forler and Mason Moore.

A Regional Provisional were awarded to Rick Ziehl. The Promoter’s Provisional went to James Mosher.

With the 2016 season in the books, Sam Hafertepe, Jr. goes down as the 12th different driver to earn a Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour Championship since 1992. The season saw 50 nights scheduled with 18 drivers finding victories in the 40 nights that were contested. Of the 18 winners, seven were first time winners to bring the overall to 136 Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour winners. Hafertepe was the winningest driver of the season with eight triumphs.

“We wanted to win this race really bad, and you could see that in how hard we were racing, but Aaron is a damn good,” commented Hafertepe. “To get the championship, we’re very happy. We knew we had it locked up coming in, but we still wanted to post two strong runs to end the year. End out with a pair of bad runs, it kills your confidence at the start of the next season so we definitely wanted to end it strong like we did.”

The 2017 Lucas Oil ASCS lineup will be released during P.R.I. Indy on Friday, December 9. For continued updates on the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by the MAVTV Motorsports Network, log onto

Race Results:

ASCS National / ASCS Southwest
Cocopah Speedway – Somerton, Ariz.
Saturday, November 12, 2016

Car Count: 37
Event Count: 40

ButlerBuilt Heat Races (Top 30 in Race Passing Points advance to Qualifiers on a 24 car invert)

Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 2L-Logan Forler[2]; 2. 5H-Cory Eliason[1]; 3. 90-Lance Norick[3]; 4. 98-Chris Masters[4]; 5. 8-Bob Ream Jr[5]; 6. 20Z-Rick Ziehl[6]; 7. 44-Jake Helsel[9]; 8. 22-Jesse Baker[7]; 9. 12-James Mosher[8]

Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 52-Blake Hahn[1]; 2. 45X-Johnny Herrera[6]; 3. 14K-Kyle Bellm[4]; 4. 9-Ryan Smith[5]; 5. 82-Thomas Kennedy[7]; 6. 0J-Jeremy McCune[3]; 7. 17-Dustin Gates[2]; (DNS) 29-Darrell Sickles

Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 18W-Colby Copeland[2]; 2. 95-Matt Covington[4]; 3. 3C-D.J. Netto[5]; 4. 4S-Michael Kofoid[6]; 5. 2C-Wayne Johnson[7]; 6. 9R-Reece Goetz[1]; 7. X1-Mason Moore[8]; 8. (DNF) 77-Damon McCune[3]

Heat 4 (8 Laps): 1. 35M-Roger Crockett[4]; 2. 74-Colton Hardy[1]; 3. 41-Dominic Scelzi[8]; 4. 91-Chase Goetz[7]; 5. 14-Cody Sickles[2]; 6. 14H-Ben Holmberg[6]; 7. 77M-Nate Maxwell[3]; 8. (DNF) 28-Jonathan Cornell[5]

Hoosier Tire Qualifiers (Top 12 in combined Passing Points advance to the A-Feature)

Qualifier 1 (8 Laps): 1. 82-Thomas Kennedy[1]; 2. 4S-Michael Kofoid[2]; 3. 5H-Cory Eliason[3]; 4. 52-Blake Hahn[4]; 5. 35M-Roger Crockett[6]; 6. 2L-Logan Forler[5]; 7. 8-Bob Ream Jr[7]; 8. 20Z-Rick Ziehl[8]; 9. 0J-Jeremy McCune[9]; 10. (DNF) 17-Dustin Gates[10]

Qualifier 2 (8 Laps): 1. 2C-Wayne Johnson[1]; 2. 45X-Johnny Herrera[6]; 3. 3C-D.J. Netto[4]; 4. 18W-Colby Copeland[5]; 5. 90-Lance Norick[2]; 6. 74-Colton Hardy[3]; 7. 9R-Reece Goetz[9]; 8. 44-Jake Helsel[7]; 9. 22-Jesse Baker[10]; 10. 14H-Ben Holmberg[8]

Qualifier 3 (8 Laps): 1. 9-Ryan Smith[2]; 2. 91-Chase Goetz[4]; 3. 41-Dominic Scelzi[6]; 4. X1-Mason Moore[8]; 5. 14K-Kyle Bellm[3]; 6. 98-Chris Masters[1]; 7. 14-Cody Sickles[7]; 8. 77M-Nate Maxwell[9]; 9. (DNF) 95-Matt Covington[5]; (DNS) 28-Jonathan Cornell

BMRS B-Features (Top 3 finishers transfer to the tail of the A-Feature)

B Feature 1 (12 Laps): 1. 2L-Logan Forler[1]; 2. 14K-Kyle Bellm[2]; 3. 9R-Reece Goetz[5]; 4. 74-Colton Hardy[3]; 5. 44-Jake Helsel[4]; 6. 77-Damon McCune[8]; 7. 77M-Nate Maxwell[7]; 8. 14H-Ben Holmberg[6]; (DNS) 98-Chris Masters; (DNS) 29-Darrell Sickles; (DNS) 17-Dustin Gates

B Feature 2 (12 Laps): 1. X1-Mason Moore[1]; 2. 95-Matt Covington[9]; 3. 90-Lance Norick[2]; 4. 20Z-Rick Ziehl[6]; 5. 0J-Jeremy McCune[5]; 6. 12-James Mosher[8]; 7. 8-Bob Ream Jr[4]; 8. 14-Cody Sickles[3]; 9. 22-Jesse Baker[7]; (DNS) 28-Jonathan Cornell

Protect the Harvest A-Feature

A Feature (30 Laps): 1. 87-Aaron Reutzel[3]; 2. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[1]; 3. 18-Jason Solwold[2]; 4. 45X-Johnny Herrera[5]; 5. 23-Seth Bergman[4]; 6. 9-Ryan Smith[9]; 7. 52-Blake Hahn[15]; 8. 41-Dominic Scelzi[6]; 9. X1-Mason Moore[18]; 10. 18W-Colby Copeland[10]; 11. 3C-D.J. Netto[11]; 12. 35M-Roger Crockett[8]; 13. 2C-Wayne Johnson[14]; 14. 2L-Logan Forler[17]; 15. 4S-Michael Kofoid[13]; 16. 91-Chase Goetz[7]; 17. 5H-Cory Eliason[16]; 18. 82-Thomas Kennedy[12]; 19. 95-Matt Covington[20]; 20. 12-James Mosher[24]; 21. 90-Lance Norick[22]; 22. (DNF) 9R-Reece Goetz[21]; 23. (DNF) 14K-Kyle Bellm[19]; 24. (DNF) 20Z-Rick Ziehl[23]

Lap Leader(s): Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 1-6, 9, 23; Aaron Reutzel 7-8. 10-22, 24-30;
FSR High Point Driver: Johnny Herrera
Hard Charger: Mason Moore +9
Provisional(s): Rick Ziehl (Regional); James Mosher (Promoter)

2016 ASCS National Driver Standings (Top 10-Final): 1. Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 5,105; 2. Johnny Herrera 4,845; 3. Wayne Johnson 4,611; 4. Blake Hahn 4,452; 5. Matt Covington 4,332; 6. Logan Forler 4,235; 7. Aaron Reutzel 4,041; 8. Seth Bergman 4,015; 9. Kyle Bellm 3,135; 10. Josh Baughman 2,968;