Aaron Reutzel with the Saller Motorsport team after winning the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic at Premier Speedway. (Image courtesy of Clay Per View) (Video Highlights from Clay-Per-View)
By T.J. Buffenbarger
WARRNAMBOOL, VIC (January 21, 2024) — Aaron Reutzel became the first American since 2015 to win the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic finale Sunday night at Premier Speedway. Reutzel, from Clute, Texas, started on the front row and avoided trouble that several other contenders could not in route to the $40,000 top prize.
“Unreal, to win the classic, the Knoxville Nationals of Australia. I mean, it’s the classic right? There’s no bigger stage in Australia,” an overjoyed Reutzel said in victory lane. “We came here last year and had some bad luck. I stepped on it and my qualifier and we came through the A we got to seventh. I said I think we’re going to win this thing if we just put a night together.”
Reuzel took over the lead after Sheldon Haudenschild crashed while in the top spot and collected James McFadden in the process.
“Who knows what would happened with Sheldon and James there,” said Haudenschild I felt like I was pressuring Sheldon up he got up running hard. Luckily, I didn’t get caught up in it, it might have been a different race with them.”
Reutzel along with several other teams experienced significant tire wear during the main event, which caused the handling to go away on Reuzel’s entry at the end.
“I was falling apart. Luckily, I had the lead at the end we really fell apart,” said Reutzel of holding on at the end. “I wanted to change some stuff under that under that red, but Mick told me that we were good enough as long as I can stay clean air to hold them off. It was just enough because I was struggling at the end.”
The win was Reutzel’s first during his Australia tour driving for Saller Motorsport, who also picked up their first victory in the Classic and became the 11th American to win the premier sprint car race in Australia.
“It’s so awesome to join the class,” said Reutel. “To win it for the Sallers for everything they do, everything they put into this to win and to be competitive. This is amazing!”
Sheldon Haudenschild and Aaron Reutzel started on the front row for the 40-Lap main event with Haudenschild leading early. The feature took a while to get some laps complete with a pair of red flags from Peter Dukas and Chad Ely on the initial start and Callum Williamson on lap four. All drivers walked away from the accidents under their own power.
Following one more caution for a spin by Justin Peck, Haudenschild continued to lead until disaster struck on lap 10, biking on the cushion and hitting the wall. James McFadden, who was running in third position at the time, was swept up in the incident and turned over, ending both of their feature events.
This handed the lead to Reutzel, who pulled away to a 0.601 advantage fellow American Chase Randall. Randall had a look for the lead under Reutzel on lap 18, but could not make the pass. Two laps later Randall’s right rear had exploded, ending his run.
After a fuel stop on lap 20 Reutzel continued to lead with defending Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic winner Brock Hallett chasing him. Hallett was able to close to 0.724 seconds, but was unable to get closer as Reutzel picked up the Classic victory.
Lachlan McHugh overcame having to change an engine after the Silver Scramble. Jamie Veal and defending Australian Sprintcar Title winner Jock Goodyer were able to rally from transferring to the B-Main to round out the top five.
Marcus Dumesny picked up the hard charger award moving up from 22nd to sixth position.
51st Flying Horse Brewery and Bar Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic
Sunday, January 21, 2024
1. USA87-Aaron Reutzel
2. Q5-Brock Hallett
3. NQ7-Lachie McHugh
4. V35-Jamie Veal
5. A1-Jock Goodyer
6. N47-Marcus Dumesny
7. W2-Kerry Madsen
8. N99-Carson Macedo
9. V25-Jack Lee
10. S81-Luke Dillon
11. USA24-Rico Abreu
12. V60-Jordyn Charge
13. USA2-Justin Peck
14. S14-Brendan Quinn
15. V37-Grant Anderson
16. W83-Brock Zearfoss
17. V6-Cameron Waters
18. USA9-Chase Randall
19. Usa17-Corey Eliason
20. USA25-Sheldon Haudenschild
21. D5-James McFadden
22. W3-Callum Williamson
23. V98-Peter Doukas
24. S98-Chad Ely