By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
PLYMOUTH, IN – The ups and downs of racing night-after-night can take a toll on driver and team alike. It can also afford driver and team an opportunity to get back on the horse, so to speak, to find redemption in the face of adversity.
Tyler Courtney has seen all ends of the spectrum in just the last three nights alone, from the peak of winning Wednesday at Eldora to the valley of being collected in an incident on Thursday at Gas City that resulted in a 23rd place result.
Courtney and his Clauson/Marshall/Newman Racing team persevered in Friday’s NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week stop at Plymouth Speedway, riding the wave back to the top of the totem pole to become the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship’s second four-time winner of the season alongside Brady Bacon.
The team’s high success rate, now with Courtney and CMNR scoring 15 wins in 55 USAC Sprint Car races together since the beginning of their championship campaign in 2018, a winning rate of over 27% a clip, hasn’t provided them much of an opportunity to be in a “bounce back” situation, all to their credit. But, when they’ve been put in that situation, they’ve prospered and did so again Friday night.
“That’s what makes our team so good,” Courtney explained. “We don’t dwell on the night before. We just go back the next night and try to do our job. That’s win races. We haven’t won as much as we did at this point last year, but we’re not going to give up. We have one heck of a team right now. (Crew Chief Tyler Ransbottom) is really working his tail off to make this thing perfect and make my job easy. I’m just getting back in the swing of running a sprint car again. I think I’ve been more of a midget guy here lately. If we’re going to get into the swing, this is the week to do it.”
Courtney started the 30-lap feature sixth after garnering quick time earlier in the evening during Fatheadz Eyewear Qualifying. Up front, however, front row occupiers Chris Windom and Chase Stockon raced side-by-side for the duration of the first lap with Stockon taking the advantage by a half car length at the stripe.
Windom immediately slid Stockon into turn one on the second lap to grab the position where he would stake claim for the first third of the race while Brady Bacon rolled the bottom in second behind the high-riding Windom.
Bacon continued to eat up ground, bottom-feeding to within a car length of Windom at the start/finish line at the conclusion of lap 12. Bacon tickled the infield tires and used a run off turn two to pull ahead of Windom just in time to greet lapped traffic in the third turn.
A red flag just one lap later brought the race to a halt when 18th running Brandon Mattox hopped in turn one, landed on the left side wheels and barrel-rolled. Mattox was uninjured.
On the ensuing restart, Bacon spurted away on the bottom while Windom and Courtney engaged in a side-by-side battle for the runner up spot. Courtney worked the top to race around Windom for second as the crossed flags were displayed for the halfway mark.
Courtney was charging, eating up the gap and appeared to have a run on Bacon around the outside for the lead at the exit of turn two on lap 18. Bacon drifted wide on exit, stifling Courtney’s momentum, stealing his line momentarily, and forcing him to check up.
“I knew he was good on the bottom,” Courtney recalled. “I could run down there, but I wasn’t as good as him, so I needed to go do something else. That’s the advantage of running second or third midway through the race. I got by Chris around the top, so I knew there was something there. I showed (Bacon) a little bit, but he did what he needed to do to maintain.”
Courtney gathered himself and went back to work on Bacon. Moments later, 17th running series Rookie Zane Hendricks tagged the front straightaway wall with his right rear tire, then proceeded to go into turn one with a full head of steam, tagging the turn one wall and flipping wildly along the topside of the 3/8-mile dirt oval. He walked away under his own power.
During the red flag period, second-running Courtney and team made a couple of shock adjustments, but agreed they had a pretty good racecar and shouldn’t have to do too much.
On the lap 19 restart, Courtney wasted no time putting himself back into contention, switching the game plan up when Bacon slid from the bottom of turn three to the top of turn four. Courtney anticipated the move and had his NOS Energy Drink – Competition Suspension, Inc./Spike/Rider Chevy locked and loaded to diamond off the top of three toward the bottom of turn four to win the race to the line by a car length
“When we got that red there, I got a good restart,” Courtney remembered. “He slid a little high in four, I got underneath him and cleared him at the line right before the yellow. That played in our favor. If I could just stick the bottom in one and two, I could get out and run my own race. These races are tough to win, especially when everybody’s as close as they are right now.”
Moments later, Thomas Meseraull, who was running 13th, spun around in turn four, forcing out the yellow. Courtney secured the lead with 12 to go, and there wasn’t much that was going to alter that as a gaggle of cars led by Justin Grant, Windom, Bacon, Leary, Jason McDougal and a whole host of others battled for second as Courtney disappeared into the nighttime horizon, expanding his lead to more than a second in the dwindling laps.
Leary, who finished a heartbroken second the night prior at Gas City, was a rocket during the final laps, utilizing the topside to drive around the outside of Grant for the second spot at the finish line. But, crossing that same line three-quarters of a second earlier was Courtney, who knocked out the 21st USAC National Sprint Car win of his career, equaling 1967 champ Greg Weld for 28th all-time. The victory also marked Courtney’s fourth career ISW win, and first at Plymouth.
Behind Courtney, Leary and Grant at the checkered were fourth-place finisher Bacon and Jason McDougal who rounded out the top-five.
Contingency award winners Friday night at Plymouth Speedway were Tyler Courtney (Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier), Matt Westfall (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner & KSE Racing Products/B & W Auto Mart Hard Charger), Josh Hodges (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Thomas Meseraull (AutoMeter Third Heat Winner), Kyle Cummins (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner & Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier), Max Adams (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), Jarett Andretti (ProSource Hard Work Award) and Dave Darland (Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer).
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: July 19, 2019 – Plymouth Speedway – Plymouth, Indiana – 32nd NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING GROUP ONE: 1. Dustin Ingle, 2DI, Ingle-13.485; 2. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-13.531; 3. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-13.548; 4. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-13.643; 5. Max Adams, 5m, Adams-13.656; 6. Terry Richards, 18m, Richards-13.702; 7. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-13.848; 8. Mitchell Davis, 56, Davis-13.868; 9. Dustin Christie, 75, Christie-14.018; 10. Brandon Long, 02, Long-14.116; 11. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-14.133; 12. Zane Hendricks, 27, Goodnight-14.151; 13. Koby Barksdale, 22, Barksdale-14.158; 14. Shane Cottle, 2E, Epperson-14.176; 15. Anthony D’Alessio, 01, D’Alessio-14.208; 16. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-14.274; 17. Matt Moore, 9, Moore-14.394; 18. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-14.450; 19. T.J. Artz, 57x, Artz-14.495.
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING GROUP TWO: 1. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-13.358; 2. Jason McDougal, 71p, Daigh/Phillips-13.396; 3. C.J. Leary, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-13.462; 4. Chris Windom, 5G, Goacher-13.507; 5. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-13.599; 6. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 19, Hayward/Thomas-13.746; 7. Dakota Jackson, 17, On The Gass-13.804; 8. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-13.837; 9. Thomas Meseraull, 00, Whitney-13.854; 10. Chad Boespflug, 98e, EZR-13.865; 11. Carson Short, 21, RCM-13.871; 12. Dave Darland, 42, Cheney-13.894; 13. Clinton Boyles, 57, Hazen-13.969; 14. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-14.032; 15. Matt McCarthy, 28m, McCarthy-14.122; 16. Dickie Gaines, 44, Soudrette-14.133; 17. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-14.158; 18. Brian VanMeveren, 24, VanMeveren-14.247; 19. Cole Ketcham, 41, Ketcham-14.307.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Matt Westfall, 2. Brandon Mattox, 3. Chase Stockon, 4. Dustin Ingle, 5. Max Adams, 6. Dustin Christie, 7. Koby Barksdale, 8. Matt Moore, 9. Anthony D’Alessio, 10. T.J. Artz. 2:19.84
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Josh Hodges, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Zane Hendricks, 4. Terry Richards, 5. Shane Cottle, 6. Isaac Chapple, 7. Brandon Long, 8. Matt Goodnight, 9. Mitchell Davis. 2:20.87
AUTOMETER THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Thomas Meseraull, 2. Carson Short, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Tyler Courtney, 5. Dakota Jackson, 6. C.J. Leary, 7. Clinton Boyles, 8. Jarett Andretti, 9. Cole Ketcham, 10. Matt McCarthy. 2:20.37
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Kyle Cummins, 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 3. Chris Windom, 4. Jason McDougal, 5. Dave Darland, 6. Brian VanMeveren, 7. Dickie Gaines, 8. Brody Roa, 9. Chad Boespflug. NT
SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. C.J. Leary, 2. Dakota Jackson, 3. Max Adams, 4. Jarett Andretti, 5. Mitchell Davis, 6. Clinton Boyles, 7. Dave Darland, 8. Brandon Long, 9. Dustin Christie, 10. Matt McCarthy, 11. T.J. Artz, 12. Dickie Gaines, 13. Cole Ketcham, 14. Matt Goodnight, 15. Isaac Chapple, 16. Matt Moore, 17. Koby Barksdale, 18. Shane Cottle, 19. Anthony D’Alessio. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Tyler Courtney (6), 2. C.J. Leary (7), 3. Justin Grant (9), 4. Brady Bacon (3), 5. Jason McDougal (4), 6. Chris Windom (1), 7. Dakota Jackson (13), 8. Chase Stockon (2), 9. Kyle Cummins (15), 10. Josh Hodges (8), 11. Matt Westfall (19), 12. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (11), 13. Max Adams (10), 14. Carson Short (18), 15. Mitchell Davis (16), 16. Isaac Chapple (23), 17. Dustin Ingle (5), 18. Jarett Andretti (22), 19. Thomas Meseraull (17), 20. Zane Hendricks (20), 21. Clinton Boyles (21), 22. Brandon Mattox (14), 23. Terry Richards (12), 24. Dustin Christie (24). NT
**Brody Roa and Chad Boespflug flipped during the fourth heat. Brandon Mattox flipped on lap 14 of the feature. Zane Hendricks flipped on lap 19 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Chase Stockon, Laps 2-12 Chris Windom, Laps 13-18 Brady Bacon, Laps 19-30 Tyler Courtney.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS/B & W AUTO MART HARD CHARGER: Matt Westfall
WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Max Adams
SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS FIRST NON-TRANSFER: Dave Darland
ROGER & BARB TAPY 13TH FASTEST QUALIFIER: Dakota Jackson
PROSOURCE HARD WORK AWARD: Jarett Andretti
NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-C.J. Leary-1,102, 2-Tyler Courtney-1,010, 3-Chris Windom-1,010, 4-Brady Bacon-987, 5-Chase Stockon-980, 6-Kevin Thomas, Jr.-968, 7-Justin Grant-900, 8-Jason McDougal-848, 9-Carson Short-818, 10-Isaac Chapple-672.
NEW NOS ENERGY DRINK INDIANA SPRINT WEEK POINTS: 1-C.J. Leary-147, 2-Brady Bacon-142, 3-Chris Windom-136, 4-Jason McDougal-131, 5-Justin Grant-123, 6-Kevin Thomas, Jr.-115, 7-Dakota Jackson-114, 8-Tyler Courtney-112, 9-Kyle Cummins-108, 10-Chase Stockon-101.
NEW PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Shane Cottle-17, 2-Brent Beauchamp-11, 3-Max Adams-9, 4-Matt Westfall-8, 5-Chris Windom-6, 6-Justin Grant-6, 7-Dakota Jackson-6, 8-Kyle Cummins-6, 9-Cole Ketcham-6, 10-Tyler Courtney-5.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: July 20, 2019 – Kokomo Speedway – Kokomo, Indiana – 32nd NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week