DUQUOIN, Ill. – The sixth-mile Southern Illinois Center bullring has often been a place where frustrations have boiled over, and Saturday night a battle between Tyler Courtney and Justin Grant hit fever pitch.
The duo was battling for the win in the night’s second B main, with Grant leading the way, when he and Courtney got together entering turn three with two to go in the 15-lap sprint.
As Grant slowed to hit the bottom groove, Courtney came in with a head of steam and got into Grant’s tail tank. The contact sent Courtney spinning, while Grant was able to gather his car back up and continue on.
Courtney was sent to the rear of the field for stopping on track, and ultimately had to use a provisional to make the 50-lap feature. Visibly frustrated afterwards in the pit area, the reigning AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series champion quickly declined any immediate comment on the incident.
Grant ended up with a fifth-place finish on Saturday night for RAMS Racing, while Courtney came from the last row of the grid to seventh for Clauson-Marshall Racing.
After the race, Grant was quick to point out the damage to the rear of his No. 4a from the contact with Courtney, before offering his view on what happened in turn three.
“The bottom in (turns) three and four was slowing down, and so I came off the top of (turns) one and two and slowed down to hit the groove down there … as you do when you’re paying attention to the race track,” recalled Grant. “I don’t know if the brakes went out in his car or what he had happen, but he must have had a failure, because he just clobbered the back of my car getting into the corner.
“I know he wouldn’t do anything like that on purpose, but he got us pretty good,” Grant added. “Like I said, I’m assuming he had a failure. He somehow interpreted that it was our fault, but you can go look at the scuff where he caved the tail tank in. I’d say it was either a brake failure or he was trying to turn me and it went wrong, and then he had a temper tantrum.”
Asked about the incident with Grant, Courtney offered “no comment” again, but did give an overhead view of his night that conveyed strong emotions on the matter.
“We were determined tonight, and we had a fast race car,” Courtney noted. “Unfortunate circumstances put us into a position where we had to use a provisional, and it sucks to have to burn one on a race that didn’t pay any feature points, but we were trying to go for three-in-a-row and make history. It just wasn’t our night, unfortunately.
“Due to other people’s ignorance, we didn’t have a shot to get the job done, but that’s a subject for another day,” Courtney continued. “I can’t say enough about my team and how they worked their tails off all night long for us. To have it end the way it did was unfortunate. It sucks.”
While Grant isn’t running a full schedule this season with the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series, Courtney leaves DuQuoin with the point lead heading into the Kokomo Grand Prix in April.
The Indianapolis native had his focus turned away from the Shamrock Classic and on to racing in his home state before he ever left the building on Saturday night.
“We’ll go to Kokomo with the championship lead and try to build on our positives there,” Courtney noted. “That’s a place where we’re strong – we won there last year – and we’ll go try to back that up.”