By RICHIE MURRAY
ROSSBURG, OH – In the long, storied history of Eldora Speedway, no individual has ever won four consecutive USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature events. That record is in jeopardy this Saturday night in the 38th running of the 4-Crown Nationals presented by NKT.tv.
Tyler Courtney has won each of the last three in the division at Eldora dating to last year’s 4-Crown. The Indianapolis, Ind. driver then proceeded to win the next two in May and July of this season.
At the moment, his three-straight victories at The Big E equal four other drivers. Jud Larson was the first to reach three-in-a-row over a two-season span in 1964-65. Bubby Jones was the next in 1978-79.
There was an era of domination in the late 1980s and early 1990s when just two drivers stood in victory lane during a nine-race stretch between 1988 and 1991. Jack Hewitt had two non-consecutive three-race win streaks during that stretch, first coming in 1988, then sweeping the years of 1990-91 at the half-mile dirt oval. Steve Butler sandwiched three consecutive victories between Hewitt’s streaks in 1988-89.
Larson saw his streak end with 12th place finish in 1965, a race won by Red Riegel. Jones’ bid for four came short with a 6th in 1979 behind winner Larry Rice. Hewitt’s first try for four in 1988 was a tough go, bowing out early and finishing last while Butler began a three-race win streak of his own that was upended by Hewitt in the 1990 USAC season opener. Hewitt’s final try for four was the closest call of any his previous competitors, finishing 3rd in the 1992 dirt opener behind Terry Shepherd and Kevin Huntley.
By comparison, in USAC midget competition at Eldora, nobody has been victorious more than twice in a row. Meanwhile, in the Silver Crown cars at Eldora, only one driver has won three-in-a-row, Hewitt in 1994-95-96.
When your name is tossed around as matching or defeating records set by the likes of Larson, Bubby, Hewitt and Butler at Eldora, you’re making history. And that’s just what Courtney’s up for this weekend.
The 4-Crown Nationals kicks off with Silver Crown practice and qualifying on Friday night, September 27, along with a complete show for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars. Pits open at 1:30pm Eastern, front gates at 2pm, drivers meeting at 5:30pm and cars on track at 6pm. General admission tickets are $29 for ages 13 & up and free for ages 12 & under. Reserved tickets are $34 for ages 13 & up and $9 for ages 12 & under.
The following day, on Saturday, September 28, the Silver Crown teams will again have a practice session, leading into their 50-lap finale as part of the event which will feature complete events for the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets, USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars and the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions.
On Saturday, pits open at 11am Eastern, spectator gates open at noon, drivers meeting at 4:30pm and cars on track at 6pm. General admission tickets are $34 for ages 13 & up and free for ages 12 & under. Reserved tickets are $39 for ages 13 & up and $9 for ages 12 & under.