NJ Native Pockets $8k for the Illinois Triumph; Logs Top 10 at I-96 Speedway in Michigan
Harrisburg, PA – May 20, 2021
by Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
Feature Photo Credit: @DirtySlidejobs
It was a moment he believed he would have someday, but nobody could guarantee it. You just need to have the opportunity and you need to put in the work, then maybe it’ll happen.
Standing in victory lane in Joliet, IL with a broad smile on his face, Kyle Reinhardt thanked Wayne Quackenbush & Capitol Renegade, his parents & family, his girlfriend, Jeff McCall and everyone else who had helped him pursue his dream. Collectively they are the reason he was able to give up a career as an engineer to be a full-time racer. It’s a high risk, high reward choice. Although there is good money that can be won in a race car, in this case the reward is also about achieving something you are passionate about. Feeling that satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that stems from your lifelong vision. Kyle’s is a fascinating story. There’s no yellow brick road. Just a trail of hard work, preparation and creating opportunities over the years.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First we need to make a stop in Michigan.
I-96 Speedway: Odessa, MI (Qualifying 13th, Heat 2nd, A-main 10th)
32 teams signed in to compete in the $8,500 to win Mace Thomas Classic on Friday night at the 4-tenths mile Michigan oval. The format divided the field into 4 groups for time trials and heats. Reinhardt was the 17th car to hit the track under the clock and he turned in the 13th quickest time overall, good for 4th in his group.
The qualifying effort placed him on the pole of heat three, from which he jumped out to a comfortable lead in the opening laps. A caution with two laps complete bunched the field. Second place Paul McMahan made the most of the restart opportunity, diving under Reinhardt and claiming the lead exiting turn 2. While the Capitol Renegade No.91 was good, it wasn’t quite good enough to get back by McMahan. Reinhardt settled for a runner-up finish that transferred him directly to the main event, but there was still a bit of disappointment. A win would have provided a guaranteed top-10 starting spot in the A-main but more importantly, an opportunity in a dash to start even closer to the front of the field. Instead, he would start the night’s main event in 12th.
“Your whole night changes so much based on each position in qualifying and heats. You have to be on your game all the time.“, Reinhardt commented.
When the green flag waved on the main event, Reinhardt had his eyes set on a top-10, or maybe even a top-5, finish. Before one lap could be completed, Reinhardt was already passing for 10th when he suddenly found himself facing the wrong direction on the back stretch when a competitor made contact with the front of his J&J Chassis. The good news was there was no damage, but the bad news was Reinhardt would have to restart the event at the back of the field, in the 24th position.
Racing from the back of the field can be tough. There’s a lot of traffic and ‘dirty air’ that can make passing difficult. That appeared to be the case for Reinhardt over the first dozen laps. He found himself still riding in 21st when the caution appeared on lap 12. On this night though, Reinhardt’s car was up to the challenge. As the remainder of the 30-lap race unfolded, Kyle made a charge, methodically working his way forward. When the final caution of the event appeared on lap 19, he found himself in 15th. It was more of the same when the green lights flashed back on for the final 11 laps. Reinhardt continued his steady push forward, advancing another position every few laps. It culminated with a pass for 10th on the final circuit.
While the official results listed Reinhardt as +2 (12th to 10th), in reality he had been +14 and had earned all but one of those positions by making passes under green flag conditions. “We had a solid night going early. We just missed the dash, but I knew we had a car capable of running in the top 10. After the contact on lap one, I had to work a lot harder for it, but it feels good to know we have our speed back. Earning a top 10 all the way from the back…I’ll take it for sure.“, Reinhardt shared, reflecting on the positive aspects of their night.
Dirt Oval at Route 66: Joliet, IL (Qualifying 3rd, Heat 4th, Dash 1st, A-main 1st)
On Saturday, the tour made its way southwest along Lake Michigan to the half-mile just outside of Chicago. 28 teams were on hand to compete for the $8,000 winner’s share. Under the format for 30 cars or less, all teams would qualify against the entire field, then be divided into three heats.
Reinhardt started the night strong, registering the 3rd quickest time in the field. The top 4 were inverted for each heat race, giving the All Star Rookie of the Year candidate the 4th starting spot in heat three. He held on to that spot in the 8-lap qualifying event to not only transfer to the A-main but, as the fastest qualifier in the heat, put himself in the dash redraw.
We’ve all heard the famous quote from a Roman philosopher: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” For Reinhardt, opportunity knocked in the form of drawing the pole for the 6-lap dash, and he was prepared. Starting alongside Cory Eliason, Kyle had the advantage in the opening turns. Eliason was strong and took the top spot away to lead lap one. Reinhardt wasn’t done. He powered back under the Rudeen Racing No.26 of Eliason on lap 2. Once back in front, Reinhardt would not be denied. He pulled out to a convincing lead and claimed his first career All Star Circuit of Champions dash victory, and with it, the pole for the A-main.
The 25-lap feature event had trouble finding its rhythm. Over the first 8 laps, there 5 cautions. For Reinhardt that meant clean air to race in, but it also meant having to pick the right line and withstand challenges on each restart. He was up to the task. Each time, he managed the restart like a veteran and consistently put himself in position to open up a lead. The race remained green between laps 10 and 20, allowing Reinhardt to reach lapped traffic. His lead over Tyler Courtney would vary during that stretch. It would balloon to almost 1.5 seconds, then shrink to nearly 0.5 seconds at times in traffic. Reinhardt kept making the right decisions at the right times and kept himself just out of reach of “Sunshine”. The final caution appeared with five laps remaining. Sometimes a late caution is a bad thing. It can give the second place car a final shot on a restart. In this case, it seemed to be in Reinhardt’s favor. With clear track ahead of him on the final restart, he bolted away from the field, capturing his first career All Star Circuit of Champions victory and the $8,000 check that came with it.
A very happy Reinhardt shared his insight on the night. “I think the dash was the turning point tonight for me. We were fast all night but when I was able to get back by Cory (Eliason), I knew we had a car capable of winning.” Turning his thoughts to the feature, he continued, “All the yellows at the start were tough. We don’t have any spotters, so I just had to go with my gut and try to get a good start each time. Once we got going, I wasn’t sure how close anyone was to me, but I knew I had to keep up a good pace. That got tougher when we got to lapped traffic, but I just kept trying to put (lapped) cars between me and Tyler (Courtney). When that last caution came out, I knew we would be alright in the clean air the rest of the way.“
RQM Motorsports would like to thank Capitol Renegade, Capitol Custom Coaches & Trailers, Champion Brands, Fibreworks Composites, Henry’s Wrecker Service, J&J Auto Racing, FK Rod Ends, Kinsler Fuel Injection, Brown & Miller Racing Solutions, Kelly Racing Fuel, B.C. Walter Trucking, Arai Americas, Auto Meter, KSE Racing Products, InTech Trailers, Fel-Pro, Taylor Ignition Wires, Miller Welders, K&N Filters, Mettec, AL Driveline, Jesel Valvetrain, DMI, All-Pro Aluminum Cylinder Heads, ISC Racers Tape, HMS Motorsports, Ultra Lite Brakes & Components, Rider Racing Engines, Saldana Racing Products and HP Engines for their support during the 2021 racing season.
Kyle and the RQM Enterprises, Capitol Renegade No.91 team remained in the Midwest following the Route 66 event to compete in four upcoming All Star Circuit of Champions events titled as the All Star Indiana Invasion presented by the Rayce Rudeen Foundation. The series will spend two nights at Circle City Raceway in Indianapolis, IN on May 20th-21st, where the finale will pay $10,000 to the winner. Teams will then travel to Gas City I-69 Speedway in Gas City, IN on May 22nd and finally will close out the swing with a $26,000 to win event at the Kokomo speedway in Kokomo, IN on May 23rd.
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