Over the past two seasons, Tyler Courtney has experienced the feeling of winning in all three of USAC’s National divisions at Eldora Speedway.
Perhaps none of those performances were as impressive as the one the Indianapolis, Ind. driver turned in during Friday’s night one of the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship portion of #LetsRaceTwo.
Courtney didn’t bat an eye having to start from the inside of row four, charging to the front of the field in rapid-fire succession to the point by lap six with a turn one slider on Kevin Thomas, Jr. From there, Courtney staged a disappearing act from everyone second on back, winning by a whopping 8.704 seconds and lapping up to seventh place.
“We kind of got behind the eight-ball starting seventh there,” Courtney explained. “You’ve got to get your way to the front early and we were fortunate enough to have a really good car. With (crew chief Tyler Ransbottom) on the wrenches, I had one spot-on racecar and that made my job pretty easy.”
Right from the get-go, Courtney was on a mission, which was briefly halted following a turn four flip on lap three by Dave Darland, who eventually walked away after the rough and tumble ride into the catch fence.
Following the restart, Courtney put his Clauson-Marshall-Newman Racing/NOS Energy Drink – Competition Suspension, Inc./Spike/Rider Chevy up top, racing around Carson Short for second on the fourth circuit, then set forth to challenge Thomas for the race lead.
It didn’t take long for Courtney to rope Thomas in, as he sized Thomas up coming to the stripe at the completion of lap five before diving low at the entrance to turn one, sliding up and securing the spot. Thomas took a run back at Courtney in turn three a half lap later to no avail as Courtney extended his rapidly-growing advantage to 2.5 seconds with a third of the race in arrears.
Courtney’s interval was wiped clean and re-racked when five-time Eldora USAC winner Robert Ballou slowed coming off turn two while running eighth. His machine limped to the turn four pit entrance, stopping just shy, bringing out the second and final stoppage of the evening.
Courtney slid himself into turn one on the ensuing restart, closing the curtain on any thought of an attempted slider from Thomas. Courtney powered away and took command of a full-straightaway lead past the halfway mark of the 30-lapper.
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier C.J. Leary and Thomas exchanged the second position multiple times before Leary limbo’d by Thomas on the bottom of turn three on the 18th lap. Thomas contested the spot before Leary ultimately cleared Thomas for the runner-up position on the high side between turns one and two. Brady Bacon mimicked Leary’s tactic one lap later to snare third.
Courtney continued to gain ground as the interval increased lap-by-lap while slicing between the lapped cars of Nick Bilbee and Matt Westfall in turn one on the 22nd lap. Courtney drove into the top-ten late in the going, albeit an entire lap ahead of them, with no indication of showing any mercy.
“This is Eldora. You can’t relax here,” Courtney reiterated. “You’ve got to get up on the wheel every lap because, if not, this place will bite you. It’s done it to me before. This is a place you can’t slack off for 30 laps.”
With two to go, Courtney drove by eighth place Justin Grant and was closing in on Chase Stockon in seventh and Thomas and sixth when the checkered fell for the defending series champ. Behind Courtney at the line were new point leader Leary in second, followed by Bacon, Chris Windom and Short.
Courtney’s 18th career series win was his first of the season and moved him into sole possession of 28th on the all-time list, surpassing Jerry Coons, Jr., Parnelli Jones and Bud Kaeding.
Contingency award winners Friday night at Eldora Speedway were C.J. Leary (Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier), Chad Boespflug (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner & Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier), Tyler Courtney (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Brady Bacon (AutoMeter Third Heat Winner), Carson Short (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner), Matt Westfall (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), Isaac Chapple (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Dallas Hewitt (Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer).
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: May 10, 2019 – Eldora Speedway – Rossburg, Ohio – #LetsRaceTwo
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. C.J. Leary, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-15.203; 2. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-15.347; 3. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-15.535; 4. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 19, Hayward/Thomas-15.564; 5. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-15.570; 6. Carson Short, 21, RCM-15.613; 7. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-15.644; 8. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-15.683; 9. Chris Windom, 5G, Goacher-15.692; 10. Timmy Buckwalter, 7, LNB-15.734; 11. Dave Darland, 17GP, Dutcher/Curb-Agajanian-15.747; 12. Jason McDougal, 71p, Daigh/Phillips-15.857; 13. Chad Boespflug, 98e, EZR-15.860; 14. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-15.891; 15. Dallas Hewitt, 18, Keen-16.008; 16. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-16.066; 17. Carmen Perigo, 21p, Perigo-16.067; 18. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-16.107; 19. Ty Tilton, 42, Tilton-16.120; 20. Dustin Ingle, 2DI, Ingle-16.249; 21. Brian VanMeveren, 24, VanMeveren-16.254; 22. Nick Bilbee, 17, Bilbee-16.313; 23. Kory Crabtree, 60, Gagliardi-16.416; 24. Corey Smith, 66s, CS-16.426; 25. Lee Underwood, 24L, Underwood-16.444; 26. Dustin Smith, 77s. Smith-16.538; 27. Matt Cooley, 19c, Cooley-16.606; 28. Michael Fischesser, 44, Fischesser-16.689; 29. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-16.885; 30. Gage Etgen, 99, Etgen-16.986; 31. Steve Little, 53, Little-17.066; 32. Mike Burkin, 79, Mahoney-17.069; 33. Mike Miller, 82, Miller-17.091; 34. Dakota Jackson, 3, Jackson-17.096; 35. Justin Owen, 4J, Owen-17.240; 36. Brian Ruhlman, 49, Ruhlman-17.747; 37. Zane Hendricks, 27, Goodnight-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Boespflug, 2. Buckwalter, 3. Thomas, 4. Leary, 5. Bilbee, 6. Hewitt, 7. C. Smith, 8. Burkin, 9. Etgen, 10. Jackson. 2:09.64
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Courtney, 2. Stockon, 3. Darland, 4. Hodges, 5. Crabtree, 6. Tilton, 7. Little, 8. Underwood, 9. Miller. 2:10.42
AUTOMETER THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Bacon, 2. Windom, 3. Westfall, 4. Grant, 5. Chapple, 6. VanMeveren, 7. Cooley, 8. Goodnight, 9. Ruhlman. 2:11.70
INDY RACE FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Short, 2. Ballou, 3. McDougal, 4. Ingle, 5. D. Smith, 6. Perigo, 7. Owen, 8. Fischesser. 2:13.01
SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer) 1. Bilbee, 2. Tilton, 3. Perigo, 4. Chapple, 5. VanMeveren, 6. D. Smith, 7. Hewitt, 8. C. Smith, 9. Crabtree, 10. Underwood, 11. Fischesser, 12. Burkin, 13. Owen, 14. Goodnight, 15. Cooley, 16. Little, 17. Etgen, 18. Ruhlman, 19. Miller. 3:36.74
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Tyler Courtney (7), 2. C.J. Leary (6), 3. Brady Bacon (5), 4. Chris Windom (10), 5. Carson Short (3), 6. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (2), 7. Chase Stockon (4), 8. Justin Grant (1), 9. Jason McDougal (12), 10. Isaac Chapple (18), 11. Ty Tilton (17), 12. Nick Bilbee (20), 13. Matt Westfall (16), 14. Dustin Smith (21), 15. Carmen Perigo (15), 16. Brian VanMeveren (23), 17. Matt Goodnight (22), 18. Dustin Ingle (19), 19. Josh Hodges (14), 20. Timmy Buckwalter (9), 21. Chad Boespflug (13), 22. Robert Ballou (8). 23. Dave Darland (11). NT
**Hendricks flipped during qualifying. Darland flipped on lap 3 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-5 Thomas, Laps 6-30 Courtney.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Isaac Chapple (18th to 10th)
WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Matt Westfall
SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS FIRST NON-TRANSFER: Dallas Hewitt
NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Leary-362, 2-Thomas-351, 3-Courtney-323, 4-Stockon-313, 5-Bacon-306, 6-Grant-299, 7-Windom-298, 8-Short-264, 9-McDougal-260, 10-Ballou-252.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACES: May 11, 2019 – Eldora Speedway – Rossburg, Ohio – #LetsRaceTwo