Preparations for the 2019 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes on Speed51.com are underway. The ballot was recently revealed and sent out to a panel of industry experts to determine the top short track racing prospects in North America.
As we prepare for the draft, we’ll be taking a look at a handful of drivers and providing scouting reports just like you would see ahead of the NFL Draft. These scouting reports will take a look at a driver’s on-track performance, as well as other qualities that may make or break their chances of making it to the top levels of NASCAR.
We continue our round of scouting reports today with a look at Tyler Courtney, who will be looking to make the list of top 51 prospects for the second straight year.
Current Level: Sprint Cars / Midgets
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN
Highest Pick: 46th (2018)
Anticipated Pick: 15th-20th
After cracking the top 51 for the first time one year ago, "Sunshine" had a breakout season in USAC competition with Clauson-Marshall Racing. He won 11 USAC National Sprint Car races en route to his first championship in a tiebreaker over Kevin Thomas Jr. He also earned two wins in USAC Midget competition and was the recipient of the USAC Super License as the overall points champion between all three national USAC touring series.
So far in 2019, he has won three of the five USAC National Midget races at Bubba Raceway Park (FL) and Kokomo Speedway (IN) and currently holds the points lead. He also won a Midget race in New Zealand against the likes of Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell back in January. While he has yet to win in the Sprints, he has three top-five finishes in four races and sits fifth in a tight points battle early in the season.
Rising, Falling or Holding Steady: Rising
After 15 feature wins between USAC, the Midwest Sprint Car Series, and in New Zealand in 2018, Courtney has emerged as one of the biggest stars in all of dirt track racing. However, having just turned 25 yesterday, this will be his final year of Short Track Draft eligibility, leading people to think maybe his shot at NASCAR has come and gone. With that being said, an IndyCar has recently been added to the Clauson-Marshall stable for next month’s Indianapolis 500, so in the coming years we may see Courtney competing at the top of a racing discipline outside of stock car racing like his mentor, the late Bryan Clauson.
On-Track Accomplishments: A-
With 20 Sprint Car wins, 13 Midget wins and a Silver Crown win since 2016, he is one of the most accomplished racers in open-wheel dirt racing over the last few years. With four wins already in a 2019 season that includes nearly 75 races on the schedule, he will have ample opportunity to pad his stats as he looks to progress through the ranks.
Perhaps his only downside when it comes to on-track accomplishments is the fact he hasn’t ventured outside the open-wheeled ranks. According to thethirdturn.com, he has made one start on asphalt in a USAC Silver Crown race at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2017, where he finished 12th. He did make a Winged Sprint Car starts during his time with TOPP Motorsports in 2016 and 2017, but with little to show for it.
He has the personality that fits his nickname "Sunshine," and everyone lives sunshine. He can always be seen at the track with a smile on his face, and he always seems to be up to something away from the race track. The only downside is you normally won’t see him outside the Clauson-Marshall pit too often while at the track. He tends to stick with his tight-knit group.
Sponsor Appeal: A
Courtney is a bright, young driver who is just getting started in USAC competition. He has picked up sponsorship from NOS Energy Drink and being under the Clauson-Marshall Racing banner, he will get the necessary attention and be a great face for potential sponsors—whether it be in USAC, NASCAR, or even for the Indianapolis 500.
Social Media: A
Courtney is very active on all his social media accounts, keeping fans updated on his results on the track and his life away from the track. With over 10,000 Twitter followers and nearly 9,000 Instagram followers, he can be seen going on adventures with fellow driver Chris Windom and USAC Pit Reporter Georgia Henneberry. His social media accounts allow a glimpse into his personal life and mirror his personality at the track.
Courtney will compete full-time in the USAC National Sprints and Midgets, combined with the Silver Crown races on dirt in 2019, looking to become the first driver to win multiple USAC National championships since Levi Jones did it in 2010 and 2011. 2019 will be an important year for him, as it is his last year of Draft eligibility. With a strong 2019 season, he could very well convince team owners Tim Clauson and Richard Marshall to give him a shot in the Indianapolis 500 in the coming years.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)