Rossburg, OH -- Tyler Courtney picked up right where he left the "4-Crown Nationals" stage one year ago, following up a walk-off homer in the Silver Crown race last year with a dominating performance in the USAC P1 Insurance National Midget event Saturday night at Eldora Speedway.
The Indianapolis, Ind. native nicknamed "Sunshine" set the tone early, recording quick time in time trials, winning his heat and then leading the final 16 laps to capture the victory worth $5000 in his Clauson-Marshall Racing/Driven 2 Save Lives - Indiana Donor Network/Spike/Stanton SR-11.
Courtney launched his assault from the outside of the third row and quickly cracked the whip as he moved up through the field to second behind teammate Justin Grant by the fifth lap and brought along a challenger with him in Spencer Bayston.
Courtney and Bayston exchanged sliders as they tussled for the runner-up spot, while Bayston, the reigning series champ and race winner, showed no rust and no hesitation in his return from a leg injury suffered in an August sprint car crash.
However, Bayston's bid for a repeat win came to a crashing halt on the tenth lap as he was tucked in behind Courtney in turn one. On entry, Bayston tagged his right rear rubber against the outside wall and partook in a horrifying incident that mangled his Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian ride. Bayston emerged from the mangled wreckage, but was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.
On the ensuing restart, Courtney wasted no time, delivering a slider immediately into turn one past Grant. Grant retaliated and made a run back at Courtney as they battled side-by-side for the remainder of lap 10 before he tried his hand at returning the favor in turn one. Instead, Grant slid up the hill in turn two as he attempted to slide up in front of Courtney, but it wasn't quite enough to slow down Courtney, who plucked out a straightaway lead down the stretch.
Nothing would interrupt Courtney in the waning laps as he powered away for a 4.8 second victory, the fifth of his career and second of the year in the series, over Grant, KSE Racing Products/Larry Rice High Performance Hard Charger Logan Seavey (from 13th), Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Tanner Carrick.
Courtney's victory allowed the Clauson Marshall Racing bunch to break the stranglehold that the Keith Kunz Motorsports/CurbAgajanian team had possessed coming into the event, winning six of the last seven and the last three-in-a-row.
"Tim (Clauson) and everybody at Clauson Marshall Racing gave me one heck of a car," Courtney exclaimed in victory lane. "Anytime you get to win at Eldora, it's special. To do it during 4-Crown is even cooler."
"Tim (Clauson) and everybody at Clauson Marshall Racing gave me one heck of a car," Courtney exclaimed in victory lane. "Anytime you get to win at Eldora, it's special. To do it during 4-Crown is even cooler." (Ryan Sellers Photo)
Rico Abreu, the 2016 winner of the midget portion of the '4-Crown,' was involved in an accident during hot laps that also included Chris Baue. The 2014 USAC National Midget champ from St. Helena, Calif. was evaluated at the Premier Health Infield Care Center at Eldora and transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.
Contingency award winners Saturday night at Eldora Speedway were Tyler Courtney (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner, ProSource Fast Qualifier & Saldana Racing Products Sweep), Zeb Wise (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Tucker Klaasmeyer (Chalk Stix/Indy Race Parts Third Heat Winner), Logan Seavey (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger) and Chad Boat (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).
-USAS Press Release
-Photo credit: Ryan Sellers