ROSSBURG, Ohio — Tyler Courtney became the fourth driver to win three consecutive USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series features at Eldora Speedway Wednesday night in what was the 200th race for the series at the historic half-mile track.
Jud Larson was the first to do it in 1964-’65, followed by Bubby Jones in 1978-’79 and Jack Hewitt, who put together two sets of back-to-back-to-back victories in 1988 and 1990-91, already putting Courtney in exclusive company in his young career.
Not to mention, the victory was worth $10,000, as the Indianapolis, Ind., native became the 29th driver to join the 20-win club with the series and now stands just one win behind equaling 1967 champ Greg Weld for the next rung on the ladder.
“It seems like we win every race that doesn’t pay any money,” Courtney said. “It’s really cool to win $10,000. Thank you to Roger Slack, Tony Stewart and everybody here at Eldora for putting up the money. It’s really cool to win the 200thUSAC (Sprint Car) race here. For people who appreciate history, like myself, that’s pretty neat to put my name in the record book.”
Courtney started third and, for all intents and purposes, on this particular night, it was over by the end of the first lap. Kevin Thomas Jr. began the race from the pole and took a run for the lead, sliding side by side alongside outside front row starter Chase Stockon through turns one and two.
Courtney rode it high around the outside of Thomas exiting turn two, cut across and dove to the bottom to slide past Stockon entering turn three. Courtney glided up to the exit of turn four as Stockon mounted a charge underneath. Courtney, though, got the upper hand, and the momentum, to lead by a car length at the line.
As C.J. Leary, Brady Bacon and Chase Stockon battled for second, going three-wide at times, Courtney was in another zip code, building up his lead to a half-straight by lap six and a full-straightaway by the 10th lap.
Just before midway, Courtney began to navigate lapped traffic. There, his lead wasn’t exactly shrinking by any means, but it had stagnated at about a 4.8 second interval. When the caution fell with 14 laps remaining, on paper, it would initially appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel for the likes of Leary and Bacon who were trying to chase Courtney down in traffic.
In reality, with four lapped cars separating first and second, all it did was provide an open track for Courtney to run a qualifying simulation for much of the second half of the 30-lapper.
All four lapped cars hopped on the bottom heading to turn one on the lap-17 restart, allowing Leary and Bacon to roam free unhindered up top.
Courtney checked out once again, putting up a 2.5 second lead on the board within just three laps of the restart, never missing a beat.
With five laps to go, it was back to a full-straight lead for Courtney again.
Leary snapped away from Bacon to close the door on that battle for position, putting the top-three from first to third a half-lap apart from each other with four to go.
Courtney split the lapped cars of Jason McDougal and Matt Goodnight into turn one and put the right rear up on the rim to ride home to his third USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory of the year, and third on a half-mile track, 5.336 seconds ahead of Leary, Bacon, Stockon and Chris Windom.
Courtney, his team and his Clauson Marshall Newman Racing/NOS Energy Drink – Competition Suspension, Inc./Spike/Rider Chevy are in unison with Indiana Sprint Week starting on Thursday.
“When you put all the right things together, usually good things happen,” Courtney said. “We’ve got a really good team right now. Rizzy (Crew Chief Tyler Ransbottom)’s on his game right now. We kind of messed up a little bit in Knoxville, but he was determined to make right on that, and I think we did tonight. It’s nice to get a momentum boost going into Indiana Sprint Week here the next few nights. Hopefully we can keep going.”
Donny Schatz won the companion World of Outlaws feature.
To see full results, turn to the next page.