PETERSEN MEDIA: Saturday night at Park Jefferson Speedway will be a night that Austin McCarl long remembers. Not only did he win his first career All Star Circuit of Champions feature event, he went toe-to-toe with the two-time defending series Champion, Aaron Reutzel to do it in one of the most thrilling finishes you could ask for.
“It was a great weekend for our race team,” Austin McCarl said. “To finally get an All-Star win is great, and to get it like that makes it really special. We do what we can with our operation, and I really appreciate the people that have supported our team over the years. Hopefully a win like this opens some eyes, and we can find some more people to come on board and help us have a great year.”
Saturday night at Park Jefferson Speedway in South Dakota, McCarl timed the Kolthoff Electric/VanBalle/Oldham/Knoxville Hospital and Clinics backed No. 17a entry in second quickest in his qualifying group.
Scheduled to start in the second row of his heat race, a little luck for the Altoona, IA driver moved him up to the front row. Taking advantage of the good fortune, McCarl would power his way to the win and earn a spot in both the Dash and the Feature Event.
Lining up fourth in the Dash, McCarl would show his hand early in the night as he was able to make a couple of big moves to work his way up to second, before getting by Cory Eliason coming to the checkered to win, and put his machine on the front row of the feature event.
When the ‘A’ went green, McCarl would lose a few positions early as he fell back to fourth and gave chase to the likes of Tony Stewart, Eliason, and Aaron Reutzel.
As Eliason and Stewart battled hard for the race lead, McCarl would move back into third before taking advantage of Eliason’s misfortune in traffic and taking the second position when the caution flew on the 14th lap.
When the green lights were displayed fans did not know what they were in for during the final 11 laps of the race. McCarl was able to get by Stewart to take over the top spot but would soon have pressure from a charging Reutzel.
As the leaders found themselves in traffic in just four laps, McCarl would lose the 20th lap, but would reclaim the point as they ran through traffic one lap later in turns three and four.
Two-laps later Reutzel would get back to the race lead as he had a full head of steam on the high side of the racetrack, but McCarl would use his own momentum on lap 24 to take the top spot, setting up for a thrilling finish.
The duo would swap the top spot on the final lap, and working through three and four, McCarl would see a little daylight and make his move to win the race by just a fraction of a second.
McCarl would also have a good night on Friday to open the weekend as he timed in seventh overall and second fastest in his group. Starting and finishing third in his heat race, McCarl would find himself back in the 17th starting position for the feature event.
With his elbows up, McCarl would do a fine job of working his way through the talented field. Getting into the Top-10, McCarl wasn’t quite satisfied. Continuing to work forward, McCarl would flirt with a Top-Five finish, but would claim Hard Charger honors by way of his sixth-place finish.
“Saturday night my car was really good on the bottom, and Aaron (Retuzel) was better getting around guys,” McCarl said. “I was focused on getting by guys down the straightway and when they got tight in the corners, and it worked. Reutzel is a bad, bad man, and it was a finish I won’t ever forget. To come out here with an older Maxim, and a Rider Racing Engine that’s a few years old and pull this off is pretty cool. Thanks to my friends, family, and sponsors for making this all possible.”
ON TAP: McCarl will be back in action on Saturday night at Knoxville Raceway as the track is set for its long-awaited regular season opener.
STAY CONNECTED: Make sure to follow Austin McCarl on Twitter @AustinMcCarl17a.
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