SAN TAN VALLEY, Ariz. — Tyler Courtney ran down Dave Darland with 13 laps remaining to win his 11th USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature of the season in Saturday night’s 51st Western World Championships finale at Arizona Speedway.
Courtney lost Friday night’s race in lapped traffic.
“I screwed myself with lapped cars last night and I was determined that I wasn’t going to do that again,” Courtney said.
Courtney started fifth, while fellow USAC National Sprint Car championship contender Chris Windom rocketed from his outside front row starting position to the lead past polesitter Damion Gardner.
On the move and not wasting a single heartbeat was Courtney who advanced three spots to second on the opening lap, slithering around the outside of Dave Darland on the top of turn two to gain the position. Darland fought back to regain second on the fourth lap just before the night’s first yellow flag waved when Matt Rossi stopped on lap five.
On the restart, Darland reared back and fired a slider into turn one. As Windom came off the top to launch his way off turn two, the duo nearly went hammer to nail. Windom got on the binders, which shuffled him out of the deck and back to fourth as Courtney and Leary shot past for second and third, respectively, while Darland led the way.
However, the lap-six restart following top CRA Rookie Joel Rayborne’s incident in turn four saw Leary wrestle second away from Courtney where he would remain until the ninth lap when Courtney eked between Leary and the turn two concrete to nab the runner-up position for the time being, with leader Darland now within earshot.
Whereas Courtney gave into impatience and trigger happiness on Friday night, Saturday night would prove to have a different outlook as he stuck to his guns up top. On lap 18, Courtney’s stick-to-itiveness paid off as the two began to work their way into traffic. Darland went to the bottom of three and four to work by Rossi and R.J. Johnson, still maintaining the lead to the stripe.
Entering turn one, Darland drove it in the corner as straight as an arrow and slid to the top, cutting in front of Courtney’s line up on the lip. Courtney countered underneath Darland and two raced wheel-to-wheel down the back straight of the three-eighths-mile dirt oval with Darland clinging to a slight advantage into three.
Courtney threw his Clauson Marshall Newman Racing/NOS Energy Drink – Priority Aviation/Spike/Rider Chevy deep into turn three, shoulder-to-shoulder with Darland.
The two remained wheel-to-wheel all the way through the corner with Darland getting just a tad squirrely on exit, allowing Courtney to gain the advantage.
Moments later, Austin Williams slowed to bring out the yellow, setting up a restart with 11 to go. Darland looked inside Courtney, but was unable to make a move.
Courtney had the checkered flag in sight when Rossi stopped on the track, setting up a green-white-checkered finish.
Courtney sealed the deal with a pair of laps that were in sync, with car and driver in perfect harmony to win by half a second over Darland, Leary, Windom and Logan Seavey.
To see full results, turn to the next page.