From Bill Wright | Knoxville Raceway
Brian Brown Shocks the House with .02 Second Win over Aaron Reutzel at 360 Nationals!
KNOXVILLE, Iowa (August 5, 2023) – Brian Brown executed a pass coming for the checkers Saturday at the 33rd Annual Xtream Powered by Mediacom 360 Knoxville Nationals Presented by Great Southern Bank and won by two-hundredths of a second over Aaron Reutzel, who had led the first 30 laps. Brown earned $20,000 plus $500 for leading the last lap. Ironically, Reutzel pocketed $25,000 for leading the first 30 laps and finishing second. The win earned Brown the big trophy as 360 Nationals champion for the second time as he also won this event in 2014. It was his 19th 360 win at the “Sprint Car Capital of the World.”
Reutzel shot out from his pole position in the 30-lap event ahead of Brown, Garet Williamson, Parker Price-Miller and Kaleb Johnson. Terry McCarl moved into the top five on lap four. Up front, Reutzel was eating up lap money to the tune of $500 a circuit, and entered lapped traffic on lap nine.
Zeb Wise moved by McCarl to enter the top five at that point. Reutzel extended his lead in traffic, while the action back in the pack intensified. Chase Randall had moved from 17th to the top ten by lap ten, and Rico Abreu was charging from the final starting spot. The leaders stayed status quo as the race wore on.
With just four laps to go, Justin Sanders slowed, and sixth running Tanner Holmes stopped inside turn one, ending a good run. The restart saw Reutzel ahead of Brown, Williamson, Price-Miller and Wise. Price-Miller slid by Williamson in turn two with two to go to gain third. Wise moved by him shortly after, and Johnson slid in front of him in turn one on the final lap.
Reutzel was roaring into turn three on the final lap when Williamson contacted the left rear tire of Johnson and flipped wildly in turn two. Johnson also got upside down ending his fifth place run. Both drivers were o.k.
The red flag added a lap to the contest. On the restart, Abreu shot from sixth to third. Up front, Reutzel protected, entering the bottom of one and sliding across the track, while Brown stuck to the cushion. He did the same on lap 31, and Brown gained significantly. In three and four, Reutzel slid across Brown’s nose in three. Brown tried to diamond the corner and drug inside Reutzel down the frontstretch. Reutzel tried to protect his position as the cars made contact. Brown won by a mere two hundredths of a second at the checkers.
Abreu followed the closest finish in 360 Nationals history, followed by Price-Miller and Ryan Timms. Wise, Randall, Sam Hafertepe Jr., McCarl and Kerry Madsen rounded out the top ten. Tyler Blank won the E main, Calvin Landis claimed the D main and Justin Henderson took the C main. Anthony Macri won the B main. Wise earned $500 from DGRD for best appearing car. Abreu’s hard-charger effort was good for Rookie of the Year and $500 from JETCO.
“$&%@ I just wanted to win!” said Brown in Victory Lane in honor of Jason Johnson’s quote at the 2016 Knoxville Nationals. Incidentally, Johnson topped Donny Schatz that year by the same two-hundredths of a second margin. “That’s for you Jason Johnson! I’m thankful for that red. I saw Tyler Swank (Reutzel’s crew chief) kind of telling him what to do. It helped my gameplan a little bit, because I didn’t know what he was going to do. He’s a great racecar driver. I knew he was going to slide himself (in one and two) and I knew I got a run. I knew my best chance was to take the bottom of three and four. I hit it pretty good, came off of turn four on the white and was going to slide him. He went to the middle, and I thought Christmas came early. I got such a good run down the backstretch and about got by him. He slid me across and I got it turned. I was either going to come back on the trailer or hold this trophy right here! He’s a great competitor. All week long, that’s who I wanted to race for the win. He’s the best there is at Knoxville right now. He probably had the better car, we just got lucky at the end and got the win.”
“If I went to the top to get a run, Brown slides me,” Reutzel said of the final restart. “My only hope was to complete good corner and get off and basically block him for two laps. Brown behind you on those restarts, it’s going to be tough. He’s one of the best for a reason, and he’s been kicking us all year. He kicked the Outlaws too when they were here. It stings, but it is what it is. It wasn’t meant to be.”
“(This charge) shows how good our guys are,” said Abreu, who claimed the last transfer from the B. “We made some big swings from Thursday night. We got a little bit better and better every time. That B was key. We got our tires heated up and got some good steam through the middle. I made my marks in the feature there. 360 racing is such a different style of racing. You have to keep your momentum and RPM’s up. It just took us some laps to get it. This is the best racetrack in the world and that’s why you see the best racing in the world here.”
Join us Sunday, August 6 for the finale of the 12th Annual Avanti Windows and Doors Capitani Classic Presented by Great Southern Bank! For more information on the Knoxville Raceway, visit us online at www.KnoxvilleRaceway.com!
A main (started), 31 Laps, NT:
1. 21, Brian Brown, Grain Valley, MO (2); 2. 8, Aaron Reutzel, Clute, TX (1); 3. Rico Abreu (24); 4. 9P, Parker Price-Miller, Kokomo, IN (3); 5. 5T, Ryan Timms, Oklahoma City, OK (6); 6. 26, Zeb Wise, Angola, IN (8); 7. 9, Chase Randall, Waco, TX (17); 8. 15H, Sam Hafertepe Jr., Sunnyvale, TX (15); 9. 24, Terry McCarl, Altoona, IA (9); 10. 55, Kerry Madsen, St. Mary’s, NSW, Aust. (12); 11. 1K, Kelby Watt, Adel, IA (5); 12. 5, Daryn Pittman, Owasso, OK (19); 13. Anthony Macri (21); 14. 2m, Davey Heskin, St. Michael, MN (18); 15. 4w, Jamie Ball, Knoxville, IA (13); 16. 9G, Ryan Giles, Grimes, IA (20); 17. 16A, Colby Copeland, Roseville, CA (16); 18. 22K, Kaleb Johnson, Sioux Falls, SD (7); 19. 24w, Garet Williamson, Columbia, MO (4); 20. 18T, Tanner Holmes, Jacksonville, OR (10); 21. Justin Sanders (23); 22. 36, Jason Martin, Lincoln, NE (11); 23. Austin McCarl (22); 24. 2c, Wayne Johnson, Tuttle, OK (14). Lap Leaders: Reutzel 1-30, Brown 31. Hard-charger: Abreu.
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Photo's: Knoxville Raceway | Paul Arch