Smart Decisions at Virginia Motor Speedway Result in Top 10 Finish
New Oxford, PA – April 21, 2021
by Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
Feature Photo Credit: Brent Smith Photography
Coming into the 4-race swing that would take them from Virginia through Central Pennsylvania, Kyle Reinhardt and his new team had only competed in a handful of events, and those had been spread out on the calendar. While it may appear much like the No.91 we’ve become accustomed to seeing in recent years, there are notable changes for 2021. Two key ones are the J&J chassis and a new crew chief. The team entered two races in Georgia in late January, one race in Florida in early February, a couple in Central PA in March and two early April races in Ohio and New Jersey. That type of schedule can be good for a new team to make sure they have things together but it can also be hard to get into a rhythm and know where you really are as a team. The upcoming four All Star points races in four nights would likely help them measure that.
Virginia Motor Speedway (Qualifying 13th, Heat 7th, A-main 6th)
Reinhardt’s Capitol Renegade No.91 team was one of 26 to make the trip to Jamaica, VA to compete on Thursday night. Per the All Star format for up to 30 cars, the field would time trial as one group to set the lineups for three 8-lap heats, which would be followed by a single dash and a B-main to round out the starting lineup for the night’s A-main. Six cars would qualify for the feature event from each heat, with the heat winner and quickest transfer from each heat making the 8-car dash, in addition to the top two overall times who qualified through their heat.
It was the first-ever trip to the VA oval for Reinhardt. He and crew chief Bob Curtis struggled early in the evening to find the right combination and were relegated to the B-main. After transferring to the A-main with a third place finish in the consolation event, the team decided the best strategy for the feature would be tire conservation. After starting 21st, Reinhardt had moved up to 18th by lap 8, then decided to ride there for a while. The approach paid dividends late in the 30 lap main event, as other teams began suffering flat tires. Through a combination of green flag passes and attrition, Kyle found himself in 12th when the caution lights flashed on at lap 28. On the final restart for the green-white-checkered finish, Reinhardt decided to use the rubber he had preserved, overtaking four competitors in the final two laps, while another two suffered flat tires. Reinhardt claimed the 6th position just before flashing under the checkered flag. Summing up the satisfying result, Reinhardt said “We definitely struggled early tonight, but at the end of the day you’ve got to race the racetrack, and our strategy paid off.”
Williams Grove Speedway (Qualifying 3rd in group/20th overall, Heat 2nd, A-main 15th)
Friday night saw 35 cars register for action at the legendary oval known as “The Grove” in Mechanicsburg, PA. The higher car count triggered a different All Star format for 31-40 cars. The field was divided into four groups for qualifying and heat competition, which would be followed by two 5-car dashes and a B-main to set the field. Four cars would qualify for the feature event from each heat race, with the winner and quickest transfer from each heat making the dash redraw, in addition to the top two overall times who qualified through their heat.
An unfortunate pill draw meant Reinhardt would go out next to last for qualifying, which can often be difficult to overcome due to declining track conditions. However, on this night, the car was good enough and Kyle was able to do so. He recorded the 3rd quickest time in his group, which put him on the front row for his heat race. Reinhardt pursued Tim Shaffer throughout the heat and kept Tyler Courtney at bay behind him, but was unable to pass Shaffer for the win, which would have put him in a dash and a much better position later in the night. Instead, the winner (Shaffer) and fastest qualifier (Courtney) went to the dash.
Reinhardt went on to start 13th and finish 15th in the main event. Afterwards he commented, “We were just mediocre tonight. There are some bugs we need to work out. We had potential for a top 10 if things had worked out for us to get in the dash.“
Port Royal Speedway (Qualifying 8th group/43rd overall, Heat 7th, B-main 18th)
Saturday night at the “Speed Palace” saw yet another All Star format (for 41+ cars) utilized to accommodate the 44 drivers who signed in for action. The only changes from the night before would be five groups instead of four and 6 cars per dash instead of 5.
It was apparent from the start of the night Saturday that some of the bugs Reinhardt had referenced the night before were either becoming more problematic or were more impactful to the car’s performance at the fast fairgrounds half mile in Port Royal, PA. At a venue where Reinhardt has logged a 410 victory, top 5’s and several top 10’s in recent years, he qualified a disappointing 43rd. Prior to the heat race, in an attempt to get the Capitol Renegade No.91 back up to speed, Kyle and crew made several changes, including an ignition box and spark plugs. Unfortunately the struggling continued in their heat race, resulting in a 7th place finish. “The car wasn’t responding. It just didn’t have any feel. Bob (Curtis) and I tried a couple changes for the B-main to see if we could resolve the handling issues but we knew starting 16th we would have to be really good right away to move forward and make the race tonight“, Reinhardt shared. After five laps of the B-main, he knew the issues were still there and he decided to call it a night. It was time to head back to the shop and get to work.
After loading up, Reinhardt shared some insight. “Running the All Star series, you don’t have the luxury of figuring issues out over time. If you want to be competitive, sometimes you have to change all of the things that could be part of the issue – all at the same time, then figure out later which one of them actually resolved it. That’s what we decided to do when we got back to the shop Saturday night.” He continued, “We went back to basics and did everything we could to make sure we would be better the next night.“
Bedford Speedway (Qualifying 8th, Heat 1st, A-main 5th)
Thirty teams made the Sunday night trip a little further west in Pennsylvania to the second fairgrounds half-mile in as many nights. For the third straight night Reinhardt could only shake his head and grin as he drew a pill that placed him at the tail end of the qualifying order. The first encouraging sign that the late hours in the shop the previous night were worth it, came when he logged the 8th quickest time overall.
The qualifying effort put Kyle on the front row for the third heat race. He settled into second, chasing leader Zeb Wise and holding off Rico Abreu. Reinhardt will tell you he doesn’t believe in luck, “I believe you make your own luck. You put yourself in position to earn things.” Call it luck or being in position to earn it, when Zeb Wise blew a left-rear tire with one lap remaining in the heat race, the Capitol Renegade No.91 held on for the win and the spot in the dash that comes with it. Reinhardt started 6th and finished 5th in that dash, placing him inside row 3 to start the A-main.
At the start of the 30-lap main event, the Neptune City, NJ native got a little “crossed up” with the 39 of Anthony Macri and lost a few positions, slipping as far back as 8th in the early going. Not the start Reinhardt wanted, especially knowing he had a pretty good car under him. He remained composed, settled in and began working his way forward again. By lap 14, he had climbed back up to 6th. He remained focused and claimed the 5th position on lap 24, which he would hold to the finish.
Reinhardt reflected on the team’s effort at Bedford, “It was a really solid night for us. Really good to know our hard work after Port Royal paid off. This gives us a lot of confidence through the off week and into the next race.” It seems the fairgrounds speedway in Pennsylvania is quickly becoming one of his favorites. “Last year we came here for the first time ever, finished top 10 with the All Stars and got the Hard Charger award. Now we’ve got a top 5 here with the All Stars. This is a fun track. I like it.“, Reinhardt commented.
It’s still early, but if this 4-race stretch is any indication, the driver/crew chief relationship between Reinhardt and Curtis is starting to gel just fine. Despite missing the show Saturday night at Port Royal, the Jeff McCall/Wayne Quackenbush operation finds itself sitting 8th in the All Star Circuit of Champions point standings thus far in 2021.
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 will take the upcoming weekend off to prepare for a three race weekend with the All Star Circuit of Champions when they compete at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, PA on Friday, April 30th, followed by Sharon Speedway in Hartford, OH and Tri-City Raceway Park in Franklin, PA the following two nights.
Photos from VA / PA Swing APr 15-18
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