OCALA, Fla. — Saturday night’s NOS Energy Drink USAC Midget Series feature at Bubba Raceway Park was a rerun of Friday’s series opener with Tyler Courtney again edging a frustrated Kevin Thomas Jr. for victory Saturday at Bubba Raceway Park.
Chad Boat hit the stripe third with C.J. Leary and early leader Tucker Klaasmeyer trailing.
Klaasmeyer got away from front-row companion Zeb Wise on the break only to have a red flag fly immediately when Adam Pierson rode out a wicked series of flips in turn three. With order restored, Wise got a run on Klaasmeyer on the restart but couldn’t quite put him away.
The third trip around the tricky oval saw the sixth-starting Courtney vault to third and begin closing on Wise, who got a momentary reprieve when yellow number two flew on lap eight for a stalled car. The return to green saw Wise challenge the leader with a high side move that didn’t work and the hard charging Courtney get a run on Wise the next time around. They swapped second back and forth before Courtney took firm command and began drawing in on Klaasmeyer.
The surface suddenly turned dusty on lap 10 and at halfway Courtney was still chasing Klaasmeyer. By lap 18 Boat was on the scene, diving under Courtney in turns one and two to claim second, a spot he held only until they hit the other end, where Courtney flew back by.
Lap 21 brought yet another caution, for a stalled car, and the restart saw Courtney turn the wick up a notch on his NOS Energy Drink No. 7 and scoot past the leader.
“I waited for him to make a mistake and squirted under him in one and two,” recalled Courtney, basking in the “Sunshine” of his second consecutive score. “It’s a long race and when it got down to the bottom being the fast way around, I was ready!”
When the final yellow flew for a turn two crash with two to go, the order was Courtney, Klaasmeyer, Thomas Jr. and Boat, but that went out the window on the restart. The latter two both shot down Klaasmeyer to set the finishing order.
“We came up one spot short again,” said the disappointed Thomas Jr. “We didn’t get track position quick enough and it killed us. I did a lot of searching and found a faster groove but we got to him two laps too late.”
Boat, meanwhile, was happy with third, saying, “It was a decent night overall and we came out of here with momentum for the rest of the year. This is a tricky place and it’s hard to get a handle on it!”
To see full results, turn to the next page.