Tyler Courtney had a season to remember in 2018. After a strong start to the season in the Sunshine State of Florida, the driver they call “Sunshine” is now hoping to shine even brighter in 2019.
Courtney won his first-ever AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car championship with Clauson-Marshall Racing in 2018 behind a staggering 11 wins, while finishing outside the top 10 just four times in 40 races. Those wins proved to be important when it came down to deciding a champion, as they were used to break a tie with Kevin Thomas Jr. to crown the champion.
On the Midget side, Courtney added wins at Kokomo and Eldora and finished fourth in the NOS Energy Drink National Midget points standings. He also added two top fives in five Silver Crown starts to earn the USAC Super License for accumulating the most points between the three USAC National Series. He was then unanimously named the 2018 Driver of the Year by the North American Non-Winged Sprint Car Poll.
“To be able to compete in all three series, I feel like it’s a testament to the teams I run with, Clauson-Marshall on the Sprint and Midget side and Hans Lien on the Silver Crown side,” Courtney told Speed51.com. “They put me up front every night. I think being in good cars helps build toward the Super License. The first year with the Sprint Car went pretty well and I couldn’t do much better than what we did, so hopefully we can back it up this year.”
After competing with TOPP Motorsports in the 2017 National Sprint Car campaign, Courtney made the jump to Clauson-Marshall Racing, whom he had been driving for in a Midget, to their newly-formed Sprint Car team to chase after the Sprint Car crown. He nearly tripled his career win total in the series, winning 11 races and winning the title for the family who gave him his start in racing and his mentor, the late Bryan Clauson.
“It was kind of a big thing for us to do and for me to do to get the first driving championship out of the way and to go focus on doing it again in future years,” Courtney stated. “For our team, being new like that and to come out and be successful right off the bat was huge for everybody involved. I couldn’t say much more for the season we had last year except we set our bar pretty high this coming year.”
Courtney’s 2019 season is already off to a strong start. Along with a win in New Zealand and a top-10 run in the Chili Bowl, he swept the opening two races of the USAC National Midget season last weekend at Bubba Raceway Park.
This past weekend, he began his USAC National Sprint title defense. He finished 18th on Thursday night after an early-race issue put him two laps down. He would bounce back with third-place finishes on Friday and Saturday night.
“Starting off the right way is always a nice way to get things going,” he said. “Florida can be tough sometimes but it can be really good at times too. Even if it’s a bad time, you can’t let it get down on you too much and just move on and get yourself going back in the right direction for the rest of the year. I’m excited for 2019 and to see what we can do.”
As for 2019, Courtney looks to continue the same success he saw one year ago when he went to victory lane 13 times in USAC National competition. However, he feels he still has unfinished business on the Midget side with Clauson-Marshall Racing.
“I think to back up our Sprint Car championship from last year and to try to get a Midget championship as well because we haven’t won one as a team yet,” Courtney said when asked about his goals for 2019. “We’ll try to do that. I’ll also be running all the dirt stuff with Hans Lein on the Silver Crown side, so hopefully we can run good enough in those to try to get a Super License again and hopefully win as many races as possible.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: USAC