ROSSBURG, Ohio – There was no one even close to Tyler Courtney’s zip code during Friday night’s AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series feature at Eldora Speedway.
Courtney, the defending USAC national sprint car champion, threw a massive turn-one slide job on early leader Kevin Thomas Jr. to take command of the race on the seventh round and never looked back.
Following a lap-10 yellow for a slowing Robert Ballou, the Indiana native drove out to a whopping 8.704-second lead over the final 20 green-flag laps, cruising to the checkered flag over C.J. Leary in the end.
Courtney’s victory was his first series win of the year, and he becomes the fifth different winner in five completed USAC national sprint car features so far.
“Any time you can win here (at Eldora), it’s special,” said Courtney in victory lane. “We got behind the 8-ball a bit there with starting seventh, but I knew I just had to get to the front as early as I could, and I was fortunate to have a really good piece that I could do that with.
Rizzy (crew chief Tyler Ransbottom) gave me one spot-on race car and made my job pretty easy.”
Though Justin Grant started on the pole, he never led a lap all night, as both Thomas and Carson Short overhauled Grant on the initial start, dropping Grant back to third in a hurry before a red flag with two laps scored for a violent flip by Dave Darland in the fourth turn.
Darland climbed from his car uninjured and acknowledged the crowd, but his night was over.
On the restart, Courtney – who started seventh but had climbed to fourth before the stoppage – made a quick move to go to third and then wrestled his way to second by lap four, quickly setting his sights on Thomas for the top spot.
Courtney’s winning move came just three laps later, with a feverish pitch to the inside of the first turn as Thomas tried to keep his own momentum up around the outside groove of the half-mile dirt track.
Once he was clear, Courtney kept his foot on the gas pedal and never looked back, navigating traffic effortlessly and expanding his lead consistently throughout the remaining 24 laps.
A wild exchange for the runner-up spot ensued past the halfway point, with Leary eventually coming out on top of a frenetic scramble with Thomas, Brady Bacon and Chris Windom to secure runner-up honors.
Leary grabbed second from Thomas with 12 to go and held the position to the finish, but by that juncture, Courtney was long gone out front – and Leary admitted as much afterward.
“I’m frustrated. I really felt like we had a car that could have won this deal, but Courtney got us early when we were messing with Brady (Bacon) and Carson Short, and after I finally got to second he was just gone,” lamented Leary. “KT (Kevin Thomas Jr.) blocked every move I made for about 10 laps, and it just let Courtney run away from us.”
Bacon completed the podium in the first USAC race since the passing of his car owner, Richard Hoffman.
“This means a lot,” noted Bacon. “Eldora’s a hard place to run well at. I’ve won here and I’ve come back (the next time) and run 10th) here. You have a lot of pressure on you here, because it’s a high-risk place, but it was one of Richard’s favorite places and it feels good to get a strong result tonight for this group.”
Windom and Short crossed fourth and fifth, respectively, with Thomas fading to sixth in the final results.
Grant was never a factor and finished eighth, the first car one lap down at the checkered flag.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.