Tyler Courtney’s early-season USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship prowess has been paramount, and with his fourth win in the first six races of the season, he became the first driver to ever accomplish the feat following his victory in Friday night’s Brandt “River Town Showdown” opener at Tri-City Speedway.
Additionally, Courtney backed up his USAC Sprint Car win from a year ago by winning his first USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship feature at the 3/8-mile dirt oval in Granite City, Ill. By doing so, the Indianapolis, Ind. driver became just the third driver to win in both divisions at Tri-City, joining Jack Hewitt and Josh Wise.
Courtney ran down reigning series champion Logan Seavey entering lapped traffic with nine laps remaining to win the ninth race of his USAC Midget career in his Clauson-Marshall Racing/NOS Energy Drink/Spike/Stanton SR-11x, tying himself with Billy Boat, Tony Elliott and Chuck Gurney for 74th all-time.
Courtney opened up the night by setting Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifying time in both the sprint car and midget divisions, putting him back on the outside of row three for the start of the 30-lap midget main event. Courtney began a methodical charge toward the front while Kevin Thomas, Jr. worked the bottom by Justin Grant to grab the early lead with Brady Bacon slicing his way to slot into second right behind Thomas before a caution for Tanner Carrick’s flat left rear tire brought a halt to the action on lap four.
On the ensuing restart, Bacon stuck like glue to the bottom to rip by Thomas for the lead and appeared to be in command until lap nine when he clipped the turn three infield tractor tire, upsetting the front end, which forced him off the pace and into the work area for adjustments under the yellow. He returned, but only managed a 16th in his first race back with FMR after the combo competed full-time on the USAC trail over the past three seasons.
Inheriting the lead was Seavey who slipped away as Thomas and Justin Grant swapped sliders back-and-forth, to and fro, until Grant emerged with the runner-up spot on lap 12. Courtney got by Thomas a lap later and began his pursuit of Grant as they took part in a three-car breakaway led by race leader Seavey.
On the 19th lap, as the frontrunners approached lapped traffic, Courtney slid Grant in turn three to take second, with now only Seavey left in his sight. The lappers cooperated, hanging on the low line, while Seavey and Courtney ringed the top. Courtney was inching closer each corner, but, on lap 22, was like a rocket shooting out of a Coke bottle, springing forward with a burst that slid him right past Seavey in turn three.
“You got to take it when you can get it,” Courtney said of the pass. “I didn’t know if it was quite going to get there because you could get a run there in (turns) three and four, but luckily it stuck. Then, you can kind of do your own race after that.”
And that’s exactly what Courtney did. From there, Courtney immediately pulled away, building a three-quarters of a straightaway advantage as he ripped the top to a victory margin just shy of three seconds over Seavey, Grant, Zeb Wise and Chad Boat.
Contingency award winners Friday night at Tri-City Speedway were Tyler Courtney (Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier), Jake Neuman (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Jesse Colwell (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Jason McDougal (Auto Meter Third Heat Winner), Cannon McIntosh (Indy Race Parts Semi Winner & KSE Racing Products Hard Charger), Tanner Carrick (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher) and Andrew Layser (Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer).
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: May 17, 2019 – Tri-City Speedway – Granite City, Illinois – Brandt “River Town Showdown” – 3/8-Mile Dirt Oval
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall-15.189; 2. Logan Seavey, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.232; 3. Brady Bacon, 76, FMR-15.314; 4. Chad Boat, 84, Tucker/Boat-15.393; 5. C.J. Leary, 76m, FMR-15.407; 6. Justin Grant, 4A, RAMS-15.447; 7. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 5, Petry-15.498; 8. Zeb Wise, 39BC, Clauson/Marshall-15.525; 9. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 27, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.526; 10. Tanner Carrick, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.547; 11. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-15.555; 12. Jerry Coons, Jr., 25, Petry-15.578; 13. Jake Neuman, 3N, Neuman-15.601; 14. Jesse Colwell, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.610; 15. Jason McDougal, 21KS, Reynolds-15.629; 16. Chris Windom, 17BC, Clauson/Marshall-15.702; 17. Andrew Layser, 47BC, Clauson/Marshall-15.719; 18. Presley Truedson, 5T, Daum-15.724; 19. Cannon McIntosh, 08, Dave Mac-15.730; 20. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-15.731; 21. Cole Bodine, 15, Petry-15.768; 22. Karsyn Elledge, 1, Tucker/Boat-15.843; 23. Holley Hollan, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-15.918; 24. Sterling Cling, 35, Petry-16.098; 25. Zane Hendricks, 27z, Hendricks-16.437; 26. Johnny Murdock, 0, Zero-17.731.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer) 1. Neuman, 2. Windom, 3. Courtney, 4. K. Thomas, 5. Carrick, 6. Boat, 7. McIntosh, 8. Hendricks, 9. Elledge. 2:02.81
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer) 1. Colwell, 2. T. Thomas, 3. Wise, 4. Seavey, 5. Leary, 6. Daum, 7. Hollan, 8. Murdock, 9. Layser. NT
AUTOMETER THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer) 1. McDougal, 2. Coons, 3. Klaasmeyer, 4. Bacon, 5. Grant, 6. Truedson, 7. Bodine, 8. Cling. 2:07.31
INDY RACE PARTS SEMI: (10 laps, top-7 transfer) 1. McIntosh, 2. Boat, 3. Daum, 4. Truedson, 5. Bodine, 6. Elledge, 7. Hollan, 8. Layser, 9. Cling, 10. Hendricks, 11. Murdock. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Tyler Courtney (6), 2. Logan Seavey (5), 3. Justin Grant (2), 4. Zeb Wise (8), 5. Chad Boat (7), 6. Jerry Coons, Jr. (12), 7. Cannon McIntosh (18), 8. C.J. Leary (3), 9. Zach Daum (19), 10. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (1), 11. Tucker Klaasmeyer (9), 12. Chris Windom (16), 13. Tanner Carrick (10), 14. Jesse Colwell (14), 15. Tyler Thomas (11), 16. Brady Bacon (4), 17. Jason McDougal (15), 18. Holley Hollan (22), 19. Presley Truedson (17), 20. Andrew Layser (23), 21. Sterling Cling (24), 22. Cole Bodine (20), 23. Karsyn Elledge (21), 24. Jake Neuman (13). NT
**Layser flipped during the second heat. Elledge flipped on lap 8 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-3 K. Thomas, Laps 4-8 Bacon, Laps 9-21 Seavey, Laps 22-30 Courtney.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Cannon McIntosh (18th to 7th)
WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Tanner Carrick
SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS FIRST NON-TRANSFER: Andrew Layser
NEW USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Courtney-440, 2-K. Thomas-402, 3-Leary-363, 4-Wise-357, 5-Windom-351, 6-Seavey-343, 7-Boat-337, 8-Klaasmeyer-321, 9-Carrick-284, 10-Colwell-277.
NEXT USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: May 18, 2019 – Tri-City Speedway – Granite City, Illinois – “River Town Showdown” – 3/8-Mile Dirt Oval