SUNSHINE STRIKES 10 WITH ELDORA SPRINT WIN
Story By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Photos By: Rich Forman/USAC Racing
Rossburg, Ohio………To get to double-digits in the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car win column, you must win at Eldora Speedway.
Maybe it’s an omen, a harbinger or what have you, but history tells us as much.
Courtney reiterated that fact Saturday night during the 37th running of the “4-Crown Nationals” presented by NKT.TV, marking just the tenth occasion a driver has reached at least 10 series wins in a season and the 10th of those select drivers in that club to win at Eldora during their banner year.
Tom Bigelow (14 wins), J.J. Yeley & Robert Ballou (13), Larry Dickson & Pancho Carter (12), Bubby Jones (11), Dickson, Carter & Jay Drake (10) each got it done at Eldora on their magical seasons. Now you can add a little “Sunshine” to that list.
However, the ride to get there on this night was a tad turbulent early on as the team ran into mechanical issues that forced them to swap out the engine for another bullet following qualifying. It seemed to do the trick as Courtney walloped the competition in his heat race, then proceeded to decimate the field for much of the 30-lapper in his Clauson Marshall Newman Racing/Priority Aviation – Competition Suspension, Inc./Spike/Rider Chevy until having to hold off a late surge from hard-charging C.J. Leary left that fairytale ending hanging in the balance momentarily.
Courtney started from the pole position, but it was 2007 “4-Crown” USAC Sprint Car winner Robert Ballou who eked into the lead from his outside front row starting spot to lead the opening lap with Leary and Courtney in tow.
As Leary trailed Ballou, the reigning “4-Crown” Sprint Car winner was amidst a battle with Courtney for second. Courtney threaded the dot of the i around the outside of Leary in turn two. Leary then snagged the concrete and spun completely around down the back straightaway and somehow, someway, avoided catastrophe as the entire field missed him, allowing him to restart, although he would now have to come from the tail in 22nd.
Following the restart, Courtney made his surge, sliding past Ballou entering the third turn. Ballou countered with an uppercut to the chin and clung to his grip of the lead as the pair crossed the line. Courtney reloaded and fired his next shot, sliding to the lead past Ballou entering turn one. By lap 10, Courtney’s advantage was a full-straight ahead of Ballou.
Ballou’s bid to get back into the game hit a literal snag on the 14th lap when he clipped the turn two outside wall and spun around to a stop, ending his evening earlier than anticipated. That moved Justin Grant into second where he and the hard-charging Leary took a full head a steam at running down Courtney. Grant found the demise of his night in the same spot that took caught Leary and Ballou earlier in turn two. Grant’s car churned against the concrete along the back straight before grinding to a halt with four laps remaining.
With his victory Saturday night at Eldora, Tyler Courtney joined Jack Hewitt, Kyle Larson, Jerry Coons, Jr. and Dave Darland as the fifth driver to win in a Midget, USAC Sprint Car and Silver Crown car during his “4-Crown” career. (Ryan Sellers Photo)
Leary was in second behind Courtney for the lap 27 restart, but a challenge to Courtney’s throne was discarded almost immediately as Courtney blitzed to a good jump when action resumed. The only race for position was behind Courtney as Leary, Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Isaac Chapple roamed three-wide at times for the runner-up position.
It was all to Courtney’s advantage, however, as he drove away to his tenth series win of the year and joined Jack Hewitt, Kyle Larson, Jerry Coons, Jr. and Dave Darland as the fifth driver to win in a Midget, USAC Sprint Car and Silver Crown car during his “4-Crown” career.
Leary finished second ahead of Chapple, who scored a career-best third-place result. Point leader Thomas was fourth ahead of Chris Windom.
Contingency award winners Saturday night at Eldora Speedway were Justin Grant (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner & ProSource Fast Qualifier), Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), C.J. Leary (Chalk Stix Third Heat Winner), Tyler Courtney (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner), Nick Bilbee (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger), Dakota Jackson (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), Timmy Buckwalter (Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier) and Scotty Weir (Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer).
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: September 22, 2018 – Eldora Speedway – Rossburg, Ohio – 37th”4-Crown Nationals” presented by NKT.TV
PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-15.607; 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 69, Dynamics-15.799; 3. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-15.976; 4. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-15.997; 5. Jacob Wilson, 07, WBR-16.035; 6. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-16.088; 7. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-16.103; 8. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-16.110; 9. Brady Bacon, 99, Bacon-16.156; 10. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-16.197; 11. Dakota Jackson, 3, Jackson-16.208; 12. Jason McDougal, 71p, Daigh/Phillips-16.214; 13. Timmy Buckwalter, 7, LNB-16.277; 14. Dave Darland, 36D, Goodnight/Curb-Agajanian-16.287; 15. Dallas Hewitt, 18H, Keen-16.296; 16. Carmen Perigo, 21, Stehman-16.301; 17. Chad Boespflug, 98, NineEight-16.331; 18. Dickie Gaines, 44x, Soudrette-16.374; 19. Corey Smith, 66s, CS-16.394; 20. Dustin Ingle, 2DI, Ingle-16.494; 21. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-16.571; 22. Nick Bilbee, 17, Bilbee-16.641; 23. Joe Liguori, 44, Liguori-16.686; 24. Ty Tilton, 42, Tilton-16.731; 25. Shane Cottle, 5G, Goacher-16.832; 26. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-16.899; 27. Aric Gentry, 10, Gentry-16.919; 28. Scotty Weir, 22s, Simon-16.926; 29. Bill Rose, 320, Kissel-16.988; 30. Cole Ketcham, 41, Ketcham-16.992; 31. Travis Welpott, 18, Welpott/Gorman-17.081; 32. Brandon Whited, 15, Whited-17.093; 33. Matt Cooley, 19, Cooley-17.120; 34. Josh Cunningham, 63, Cunningham-17.235; 35. Mike Burkin, 79, Mahoney-17.236; 36. Chad Wilson, 14, Wilson-17.245; 37. Barney Craig, 71c, Craig-17.250; 38. Jack James, 99J, James-18.578; 39. Ken Drangmeister, 27, Drangmeister-19.007.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Grant, 2. Westfall, 3. Bacon, 4. Buckwalter, 5. Cottle, 6. Boespflug, 7. J. Wilson, 8. Rose, 9. Cooley, 10. Craig. 2:16.59
COMPETITION SUSPENSION, INC. (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Thomas, 2. Darland, 3. Windom, 4. Bilbee, 5. Chapple, 6. Goodnight, 7. Gaines, 8. Cunningham, 9. James. 2:16.45
CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Leary, 2. Ballou, 3. Jackson, 4. Gentry, 5. Smith, 6. Welpott, 7. Burkin, 8. Drangmeister, 9. Liguori, 10. Hewitt. 2:15.28
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Courtney, 2. Ingle, 3. McDougal, 4. Tilton, 5. Perigo, 6. Stockon, 7. Weir, 8. C. Wilson, 9. Whited. 2:16.89
SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Gaines, 2. Cottle, 3. Stockon, 4. Perigo, 5. Chapple, 6. J. Wilson, 7. Weir, 8. Whited, 9. Burkin, 10. Goodnight, 11. Rose, 12. C. Wilson, 13. Smith, 14. Craig, 15. Welpott, 16. Cunningham, 17. Cooley, 18. Drangmeister, 19. James, 20. Boespflug. 3:44.08
FEATURE: (30 laps – starting positions in parentheses) 1. Tyler Courtney (1), 2. C.J. Leary (4), 3. Isaac Chapple (10), 4. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (5), 5. Chris Windom (3), 6. Chase Stockon (7), 7. Dave Darland (14), 8. Nick Bilbee (19), 9. Dickie Gaines (16), 10. Brady Bacon (9), 11. Carmen Perigo (15), 12. Shane Cottle (21), 13. Dakota Jackson (11), 14. Matt Westfall (18), 15. Dustin Ingle (17), 16. Ty Tilton (20), 17. Justin Grant (6), 18. Jason McDougal (12), 19. Robert Ballou (2), 20. Aric Gentry (22), 21. Timmy Buckwalter (13), 22. Jacob Wilson (8). NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Ballou, Laps 3-30 Courtney.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS/LARRY RICE HIGH PERFORMANCE HARD CHARGER: Nick Bilbee (19th to 8th)
WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Dakota Jackson
ROGER & BARB TAPY 13TH FASTEST QUALIFIER: Timmy Buckwalter
SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS FIRST NON-TRANSFER: Scotty Weir
NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-K. Thomas-2206, 2-Courtney-2189, 3-Windom-2143, 4-Bacon-1901, 5-Darland-1889, 6-Stockon-1870, 7-Leary-1865, 8-Ballou-1771, 9-Grant-1746, 10-Chapple-1232.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: September 27 – Kokomo Speedway – Kokomo, Indiana – “Sprint Car Smackdown VII”