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Tyler Courtney has gotten quite used to parking it in victory lane at Kokomo Speedway over the past few years.
His late-race duel with Brady Bacon during Saturday night’s USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature was the latest chapter added to his story as he prevailed with the winning move just three laps from the end to earn his sixth career series victory at the quarter-mile dirt oval, third all-time behind Kokomo greats Dave Darland (9) and Tony Elliott (8).
The two-time USAC National champion has seemingly been either snakebitten or victorious in USAC competition at Kokomo this season. He’s encountered trouble three separate times while leading or running second this year alone.
During Indiana Midget Week, Courtney flipped while leading two-thirds of the way through. During Indiana Sprint Week, he clipped a turn two infield tire while leading and spun just three laps from the finish. In August’s Sprint Car Smackdown IX opener, while running second, contact with a lapped car flattened his tire, putting him out of contention for victory once again.
The tide turned, so to speak, with his Smackdown finale score to close out the month of August and brought him into Saturday night’s Indiana Donor Network Driven2SaveLives Double Double as the most recent series winner at the track.
Starting fifth, Courtney was on the chase early as outside front row starter Brandon Mattox controlled the pace up front for the first six circuits. Bacon, meanwhile, made a charge from fourth to second on the opening lap and began to contend with Mattox for the race lead.
On lap six, Bacon presented a challenge to the outside, which caught Mattox’s attention. Mattox noticed Bacon’s nose to his outside and moved up a groove at the exit of turn four in response. Bacon countered back by shooting underneath Mattox on the entry into turn one to take over the point.
Courtney was on the move at that point as well, and on the 11th lap, overtook Mattox for the second position and began to lasso in Bacon as lapped traffic loomed in their path.
The two ringed the top around the tail end of lead lap traffic with Courtney making up just slivers of ground at a time while this year’s track champion, Bacon, expertly navigated through the thick as he searched for his first career USAC National Sprint Car feature win at the track.
The highwire show in traffic came to a halt just after the halfway mark of the 30-lapper when 17th running Chase Johnson looped it between turns one and two to bring out the caution. At the resumption of activity, Courtney was now right on Bacon’s rear bumper and sans traffic as far as the eye could see.
As Courtney pursued Bacon, Courtney stumbled on the turn four cushion on lap 21, but it didn’t seem to deter his motive one iota as he charged back and set himself up for a slider in turn three on the 24th lap that stuck and sent him into the lead. That set off a classic duel between the two champs that proved unrelenting in the forthcoming laps.
Bacon used the bottom side of the racetrack while Courtney worked the top. Bacon ably pulled ahead at the exit of turns two and four on laps 25 and 26 each time with Courtney utilizing the high side momentum to beat him to the line each time. Bacon’s relentlessness brought him back to the lead on the 27th lap as he surged to the front off the low line in turn two to hold a two car length advantage with three to go.
However, with the low line occupied by the two cars at the tail end of the field – last week’s Haubstadt Hustler winner Kendall Ruble and USAC West Coast star Chase Johnson – Bacon was forced to go high in turn three on lap 28. Courtney went outside-in, following Bacon into turn three, then ducking underneath off turn four to slip by Bacon for the spot.
Bacon continued the chase that now ventured to the top where Courtney had roamed for much of the event, hanging in stride with Courtney just a couple car lengths back on the final lap. Courtney threaded the needle in turn two to the outside of Johnson and Critter Malone and just inside the outer retaining wall. Malone took evasive action to avoid contact as he was the meat in the middle of the sandwich. Bacon was just behind Malone at that exact moment and the two made bumper-to-bumper contact, impeding Bacon’s momentum and ending an opportunity for one last effort for the victory.
Courtney closed it out with a 0.764 sec. interval over Bacon at the finish line with Chase Stockon third. Brandon Mattox earned a career-best fourth-place finish while Shane Cottle rounded out the top-five.
For Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.), it was the 29th victory of his USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car career, equaling him with Robert Ballou for 14th all-time in his Clauson-Marshall-Newman Racing/NOS Turbo - CSI - ZMax - Schoenfeld/Spike/Rider Chevy.
“The track changed a lot there from the start to the end,” Courtney noted. “Brady started making the bottom work there at the end, but luckily, lapped traffic kind of played in my favor. This car really rolls around this place nice and it just makes my job so easy.”
Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) extended his USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car point lead to 30 over ninth-place Kokomo finisher Chris Windom entering the October 3 season finale at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway. However, after leading a race-high 18 laps, this was one the two-time series champ felt slipped through his fingers aboard his Dynamics, Inc./Fatheadz Eyewear – DriveWFX.com/Triple X/Rider Chevy.
“I felt we had a better car,” Bacon readily admitted. “I got stuck out in the lead as kind of a sitting duck. I contemplated going to the bottom but it’s kind of hard to leave what you’re doing. We actually got the lead back and lapped traffic just kind of clogged the hole and (Courtney) was able to keep the lead. I’m disappointed to run second again but there’s obviously a bright side with us gaining a lot of points for the championship.”
Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) remained in the title hunt, just 40 points behind Bacon in third while piloting his KO Motorsports/Hutson John Deere – Ravens Manufacturing - AMSOIL/Velocity/Fisher Chevy.
“We’ve got a real fast hot rod. It’s just hard to gain any points on these guys when they keep finishing in front of you,” Stockon stated.
Dave Darland’s fast qualifying run during Saturday’s Fatheadz Eyewear time trials at Kokomo was the 62nd of his career, putting him just three behind Tom Bigelow for the all-time series lead.
While battling for the second position on the opening lap of the semi-feature, driver Tim Creech ramped over the right rear tire of another car and barrel-rolled into the turn four wall and fence. He was transported for further evaluation.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: September 26, 2020 – Kokomo Speedway – Kokomo, Indiana – 1/4-Mile Dirt Oval – Indiana Donor Network Driven2SaveLives Double Double
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING FLIGHT ONE: 1. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-13.235; 2. Kendall Ruble, 17, Ruble/Martin-13.318; 3. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-13.321; 4. Shane Cottle, 74x, Hodges-13.323; 5. Tim Creech, 2c, Creech-13.399; 6. Logan Seavey, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-13.465; 7. Chase Johnson, 22, Goodnight-13.517; 8. Critter Malone, 7, Seven-13.563; 9. Thomas Meseraull, 47, Eades-13.579; 10. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-13.584; 11. Jadon Rogers, 61m, Edwards-13.626; 12. Chase Jones, 11AG, Gray-13.633; 13. Clinton Boyles, 71p, Daigh/Phillips-13.715; 14. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-13.770; 15. Brandon Long, 02, Long-13.801; 16. Korbyn Hayslett, 1H, Hayslett-13.837; 17. Matt McCarthy, 28m, McCarthy-13.841; 18. Cole Bodine, 57x, Bodine/Crow-13.995; 19. Ryan Barr, 21B, Barr-14.005; 20. Davey Ray, 14AJ, FattFro-14.068; 21. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-14.838.
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING FLIGHT TWO: 1. Dave Darland, 36d, EZR/Curb-Agajanian-13.068; 2. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-13.126; 3. Chase Stockon, 5s, KO-13.213; 4. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-13.219; 5. Carson Short, 17GP, Dutcher-13.229; 6. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-13.250; 7. Kevin Thomas Jr., 9K, KT-13.282; 8. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-13.296; 9. Chris Windom, 19, Hayward-13.349; 10. Ricky Lewis, 11, Lewis-13.446; 11. Scotty Weir, 4p, Pedersen-13.448; 12. Mario Clouser, 6, Clouser-13.464; 13. Jake Swanson, 34AZ, Team AZ-13.488; 14. Max Adams, 57, Hazen-13.534; 15. Tye Mihocko, 5, Mihocko-13.636; 16. Brad Greenup, 4G, Greenup-13.911; 17. Brayden Clark, 42G, Clark/Jackson-14.053; 18. Zack Pretorius, 9z, Pretorius-14.080; 19. Braydon Cromwell, 4x, Cromwell-14.180; 20. Jack James, 99, James-14.279; 21. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 51T, Tafoya-14.437.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Thomas Meseraull, 2. Jadon Rogers, 3. Tyler Courtney, 4. Chase Johnson, 5. Tim Creech, 6. C.J. Leary, 7. Clinton Boyles, 8. Brandon Long, 9. Matt McCarthy, 10. Ryan Barr, 11. Robert Bell. 2:16.297
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Robert Ballou, 2. Logan Seavey, 3. Critter Malone, 4. Shane Cottle, 5. Kendall Ruble, 6. Justin Grant, 7. Chase Jones, 8. Korbyn Hayslett, 9. Cole Bodine, 10. Davey Ray. 2:16.623
AUTOMETER THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Scotty Weir, 2. Chris Windom, 3. Chase Stockon, 4. Dave Darland, 5. Carson Short, 6. Jake Swanson, 7. Kevin Thomas Jr., 8. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 9. Tye Mihocko, 10. Brayden Clark, 11. Braydon Cromwell. NT
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Kyle Cummins, 2. Mario Clouser, 3. Brady Bacon, 4. Brandon Mattox, 5. Max Adams, 6. Brad Greenup, 7. Zack Pretorius, 8. Jack James, 9. Ricky Lewis. NT
C-MAIN: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the semi) 1. Matt McCarthy, 2. Cole Bodine, 3. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 4. Zack Pretorius, 5. Braydon Cromwell, 6. Ryan Barr, 7. Brayden Clark, 8. Jack James, 9. Robert Bell, 10. Davey Ray. NT
INDY METAL FINISHING SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. C.J. Leary, 2. Kevin Thomas Jr., 3. Carson Short, 4. Kendall Ruble, 5. Clinton Boyles, 6. Max Adams, 7. Jake Swanson, 8. Cole Bodine, 9. Brandon Long, 10. Chase Jones, 11. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 12. Zack Pretorius, 13. Korbyn Hayslett, 14. Tye Mihocko, 15. Ricky Lewis, 16. Matt McCarthy, 17. Brad Greenup, 18. Justin Grant, 19. Tim Creech. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Tyler Courtney (5), 2. Brady Bacon (4), 3. Chase Stockon (3), 4. Brandon Mattox (2), 5. Shane Cottle (1), 6. Robert Ballou (9), 7. Kyle Cummins (7), 8. Dave Darland (6), 9. Chris Windom (18), 10. Justin Grant (21*), 11. Clinton Boyles (20), 12. C.J. Leary (12), 13. Logan Seavey (14), 14. Scotty Weir (10), 15. Kevin Thomas Jr. (15), 16. Mario Clouser (22), 17. Carson Short (13), 18. Jadon Rogers (19), 19. Chase Johnson (16), 20. Max Adams (23), 21. Critter Malone (17), 22. Kendall Ruble (11), 23. Thomas Meseraull (8). NT
* represents a provisional starter
**Ricky Lewis flipped during the fourth heat. Tim Creech flipped during the semi.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-6 Brandon Mattox, Laps 7-23 Brady Bacon, Laps 24-26 Tyler Courtney, Lap 27 Brady Bacon, Laps 28-30 Tyler Courtney.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Brady Bacon-1,658, 2-Chris Windom-1,628, 3-Chase Stockon-1,618, 4-Justin Grant-1,550, 5-C.J. Leary-1,542, 6-Kevin Thomas Jr.-1,302, 7-Dave Darland-1,214, 8-Carson Short-1,210, 9-Kyle Cummins-1,111, 10-Robert Ballou-1,067.
FINAL INDIANA DONOR NETWORK DRIVEN2SAVELIVES DOUBLE DOUBLE PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-45, 2-Tanner Thorson-16, 3-Cannon McIntosh-15, 4-Brady Bacon-15, 5-Buddy Kofoid-15, 6-Clinton Boyles-14, 7-Logan Seavey-13, 8-Robert Ballou-12, 9-Kyle Cummins-12, 10-Tyler Courtney-11.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-184, 2-Tanner Thorson-99, 3-Shane Cottle-95, 4-Kyle Cummins-90, 5-Logan Seavey-89, 6-Robert Ballou-85, 7-Justin Grant-84, 8-Cannon McIntosh-84, 9-Brady Bacon-76, 10-Andrew Layser-65.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: October 3, 2020 – Lawrenceburg Speedway – Lawrenceburg, Indiana – 3/8-Mile Dirt Oval – Fall Nationals
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Double Double ProSource Passing Master: Chris Windom
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Dave Darland
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Thomas Meseraull
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Robert Ballou
AutoMeter Third Heat Winner: Scotty Weir
Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner: Kyle Cummins
Indy Metal Finishing Semi Winner: C.J. Leary
KSE Racing Products Hard Charger: Chris Windom (18th to 9th)
Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher: Logan Seavey
Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer / Wilwood Tough Brake Award: Jake Swanson
Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier: Chris Windom
ProSource Hard Work Award: Max Adams
BC Saved 5 Lives 5th place Midget Feature Finisher: Shane Cottle
Schoenfeld Ahead of the Game Award: Chris Windom
MPI BCForever Up on the Wheel Highest Finishing Semi-Feature Transfer: Clinton Boyles