(Courtesy USAC PR)
Rossburg, Ohio (July 17, 2019)………Throughout the past 199 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car races held at Eldora Speedway, there are just a few who’ve displayed the kind of sustained dominance on the western Ohio half-mile that Tyler Courtney has shown over the past 10 months.
In the 200th series race Wednesday at the “Big E,” Courtney put one in the record books as just the fourth driver to win three-straight USAC National Sprint Car features at Eldora. Jud Larson was the first to do it in 1964-65, followed by Bubby Jones in 1978-79 and Jack Hewitt, who put together two sets of back-to-back-to-back victories in 1988 and 1990-91, already putting Courtney in exclusive company in his young career.
Not to mention, the victory was worth $10,000, as the Indianapolis, Ind. native became the 29th driver to join the 20-win club with the series and now stands just one win behind equaling 1967 champ Greg Weld for the next rung on the ladder.
“It seems like we win every race that doesn’t pay any money,” #LetsRaceTwo winner Courtney said with a laugh. “It’s really cool to win $10,000. Thank you to Roger Slack, Tony Stewart and everybody here at Eldora for putting up the money. It’s really cool to win the 200th USAC (Sprint Car) race here. For people who appreciate history, like myself, that’s pretty neat to put my name in the record book.”
Courtney started third and, for all intents and purposes, on this particular night, it was over by the end of the first lap. Kevin Thomas, Jr. began the race from the pole and took a run for the lead, sliding side-by-side alongside outside front row starter Chase Stockon through turns one and two.
Courtney rode it high around the outside of Thomas exiting turn two, cut across and dove to the bottom to slide past Stockon entering turn three. Courtney glided up to the exit of turn four as Stockon mounted a charge underneath. Courtney, though, got the upper hand, and the momentum, to lead by a car length at the line.
That was as close as it ever got.
As C.J. Leary, Brady Bacon and Chase Stockon battled for second, going three-wide at times, Courtney was in another zip code, building up his lead to a half-straight by lap six and a full-straightaway by the 10th lap.
Just before midway, Courtney began to navigate lapped traffic. There, his lead wasn’t exactly shrinking by any means, but it had stagnated at about a 4.8 second interval. When the caution fell with 14 laps remaining, on paper, it would initially appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel for the likes of Leary and Bacon who were trying to chase Courtney down in traffic.
In reality, with four lapped cars separating first and second, all it did was provide an open track for Courtney to run a qualifying simulation for much of the second half of the 30-lapper. All four lapped cars hopped on the bottom heading to turn one on the lap 17 restart, allowing Leary and Bacon to roam free unhindered up top. Courtney checked out once again, putting up a 2.5 second lead on the board within just three laps of the restart, never missing a beat.
With five to go, it was back to a full-straight lead for Courtney again. Back behind him, recent Knoxville $20K winner Bacon dug deep to find something to get around Leary for second. Instead, he found the concrete between turns three and four, subsequently bending the front axle. He drove it into one with quite different handling characteristics this time around, smacking the outside wall on the opposite end of the track where he rode wall for a ways before landing on all fours and soldiering on.
Leary snapped away from Bacon to close the door on that battle for position, putting the top-three from first to third a half-lap apart from each other with four to go.
All Courtney had to wonder on the final lap was whether lapped traffic would become any type of hindrance to his blistering five-plus second margin. Courtney split the lapped cars of Jason McDougal and Matt Goodnight into turn one and put the right rear up on the rim to ride home to his third USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory of the year, and third on a half-mile track, 5.336 seconds ahead of Leary, Bacon, Stockon and Chris Windom.
Right now, Courtney, his team and his Clauson Marshall Newman Racing/NOS Energy Drink – Competition Suspension, Inc./Spike/Rider Chevy are in unison. It’s quite important heading into the portion of the season which comprises one-fourth of the entire year’s schedule in a span of 11 days.
“When you put all the right things together, usually good things happen,” Courtney said. “We’ve got a really good team right now. Rizzy (Crew Chief Tyler Ransbottom)’s on his game right now. We kind of messed up a little bit in Knoxville, but he was determined to make right on that, and I think we did tonight. It’s nice to get a momentum boost going into Indiana Sprint Week here the next few nights. Hopefully we can keep going.”
If you’re wondering, yes, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. The top-three of Courtney, Leary and Bacon is the same exact top-three from the series’ first visit to the track in May.
Meanwhile, Justin Grant set Fatheadz Eyewear quick time in qualifying for the 22nd time in his USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car career, tying him with Steve Butler for 18th all-time. He collected a total of $300 for his qualifying efforts courtesy of ProSource and Fatheadz Eyewear.
Contingency award winners Wednesday night at Eldora Speedway were Justin Grant (Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier), Brady Bacon (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Scotty Weir (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Tyler Courtney (AutoMeter Third Heat Winner), Matt Westfall (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner), Carson Short (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), Tom Harris (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger), Isaac Chapple (Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier), Michael Fischesser (ProSource Hard Work Award) and Gage Etgen (Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer).
(Courtesy WRG PR)
There’s magic to Donny Schatz’s dominate performances at Eldora Speedway.
He used that “magic” to cruise to his second World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series Eldora Speedway win of the year Wednesday night, during the make-up #LetsRaceTwo event – sweeping the #LetRaceTwo races for the second year in-a-row.
To Schatz, though, there is no “magic.” It’s a matter of knowing what to do, he said, and having the experience to do it.
“The misconception in this sport is there’s always something magic, there’s one thing you can do to make yourself better,” said Schatz, 10-time Series champion from Fargo, N.D. “It’s not. It’s ten thousand little things and this team has learned that over the years.
“It’s the same today. Probably even more so today. A quarter turn here or there makes a big difference.”
That’s what it took for Schatz to charge from fourth to win in the 30-lap Feature. He started the night winning his Drydene Heat race, and then went on to finish fourth in the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash – almost four seconds behind leader Carson Macedo.
Then “a quarter turn here and there” before the Feature. When field erupted into a thunderous echo across the half-mile speedway and charged to the green flag, it was already the adjustments worked.
When the field exited turn four at the start, the race took on a different appearance. Brad Sweet had darted by polesitter Carson Macedo for the lead and Schatz stole third from David Gravel. The reigning champion then tried to steal second away from Macedo in turn one, but the rookie had the stronger run off turn two. His Chevrolet Accessories No. 2 launched underneath Schatz’s Toco Warranty No. 15 down the backstretch, and he cleared him into turn three.
The veteran and the rookie battled side-by-side for the next four laps with experience winning the fight. While Macedo played his luck, running as close as he could to the outside wall, Schatz cruised around the bottom line of the track – the same line he used to win at Eldora in May.
A lap after passing Macedo, Schatz, again, used the low line to his advantage, sneaking underneath leader Sweet in turn one and throttling past him off turn two.
From there, Schatz made being fast around Eldora look easy. Lap after lap, he added another car length distance between he and second-place. Even when the field was brought back together for a caution on Lap 15 – due to Kerry Madsen coming to a stop on the track – Schatz pulled away on the restart and left the field to fight for second.
Behind him, though, the hard charger of the year was coming. Logan Schuchart – who has earned the most Hard Charger awards this year, so far, with five – was making another impressive run to the front.
Schuchart started the race seventh and found himself in sixth when the caution for Madsen came out. On the restart, though, he wasn’t going to let the leaders run away. With the throttle down, the Drydene No. 1s darted to fourth by the time the field reached turn one and carried that momentum off turn two to claim third from Gravel.
From there the hunt was one. With a head of steam, while rim riding around the track, Schuchart charged his way past Sweet for second with 12 laps to go. Next on his list, Schatz. Schuchart had finished second to Schatz for the last three #LetsRaceTwo events. It was time for a change.
However, even with finding speed along the high side of the track, it still wasn’t enough to outpace Schatz.
“I was a little loose, and I think that’s why I was good on the restarts,” Schuchart said. “I’d be good for about three or four laps and then I’d start slowing down again, especially when I got the tires hot.”
With eight laps to go, a new contender emerged. Gravel found traction and got in a rhythm, passing Sweet for third. Five laps later, he found himself in second after dueling with Schuchart for a couple of laps. He, too, marked Schatz next on his list, but, again, the reigning champion was still too strong. Even with trying different lines around lap cars.
“I closed a little, but lap cars slowed him down a little bit and he started moving around,” Gravel said. “I have a good feeling we’re really close, just going to keep tuning on this thing and hoping we can beat the 15 car.”
Schatz held almost a straightaway lead over Gravel when he saw the checkered flags for the fifth time this year – becoming the second most winning driver, so far, behind nine-time winner Brad Sweet – and for his 288th career World of Outlaws win. It was also his second win in-a-row after winning the last Series race at Wilmot Raceway.
His win took a small bite out of Sweet’s points lead, again, too. Schatz is now 30-points behind the Kasey Kahne Racing driver.
Even though he claimed his last two wins in dominating fashion, Schatz admitted a wrong “quarter turn here or there” can be the difference between winning and struggling.
With three more races at Eldora Speedway to go – leading up to the $175,000-to-win Kings Royal on Saturday – Schatz isn’t looking to magic to keep his winning streak going. It’s the determination of his team to never give up and never settle. Even after a win.
“Even though we won a race tonight, they’re (the race team) going to go to bed tonight thinking about things to be better,” Schatz said. “That’s what it takes.”
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR/PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-15.957; 2. C.J. Leary, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-15.988; 3. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-16.040; 4. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-16.210; 5. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-16.241; 6. Carson Short, 21, RCM-16.265; 7. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 19, Hayward/Thomas-16.391; 8. Zane Hendricks, 27, Goodnight-16.459; 9. Chris Windom, 5G, Goacher-16.471; 10. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-16.526; 11. Jason McDougal, 71p, Daigh/Phillips-16.585; 12. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-16.593; 13. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-16.670; 14. Dustin Christie, 75, Christie-16.726; 15. Dave Darland, 42, Cheney-16.729; 16. Kody Swanson, 20N, Nolen-16.843; 17. Scotty Weir, 23s, Simon-16.849; 18. Tom Harris, 84, Harris-16.900; 19. Dallas Hewitt, 18, Keen-16.926; 20. Dustin Ingle, 2DI, Ingle-16.931; 21. Corey Smith, 66s, CS-17.042; 22. Brian VanMeveren, 24, VanMeveren-17.081; 23. Paul Dues, 87, Dues-17.159; 24. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-17.190; 25. Matt Cooley, 19c, Cooley-17.358; 26. Michael Fischesser, 44, Fischesser-17.484; 27. Gage Etgen, 99, Etgen-17.775; 28. Nick Bilbee, 17, Bilbee-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer) 1. Brady Bacon, 2. Isaac Chapple, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Kody Swanson, 5. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 6. Matt Westfall, 7. Dallas Hewitt, 8. Brian VanMeveren, 9. Matt Cooley. 02:17.50
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer) 1. Scotty Weir, 2. C.J. Leary, 3. Dustin Christie, 4. Chase Stockon, 5. Zane Hendricks, 6. Jason McDougal, 7. Dustin Ingle, 8. Michael Fischesser, 9. Paul Dues. 02:18.90
AUTOMETER THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer) 1. Tyler Courtney, 2. Dave Darland, 3. Chris Windom, 4. Tom Harris, 5. Brody Roa, 6. Carson Short, 7. Corey Smith, 8. Matt Goodnight, 9. Gage Etgen. 02:17.80
INDY RACE PARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-7 transfer) 1. Matt Westfall, 2. Carson Short, 3. Dallas Hewitt, 4. Jason McDougal, 5. Matt Goodnight, 6. Corey Smith, 7. Michael Fischesser, 8. Gage Etgen, 9. Matt Cooley, 10. Dustin Ingle, 11. Brian VanMeveren. 3:38.17
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Tyler Courtney (4), 2. C.J. Leary (5), 3. Brady Bacon (3), 4. Chase Stockon (2), 5. Chris Windom (9), 6. Matt Westfall (10), 7. Tom Harris (18), 8. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (1), 9. Zane Hendricks (8), 10. Isaac Chapple (13), 11. Dallas Hewitt (19), 12. Scotty Weir (17), 13. Carson Short (7), 14. Jason McDougal (11), 15. Dustin Christie (14), 16. Dave Darland (15), 17. Brody Roa (12), 18. Matt Goodnight (21), 19. Michael Fischesser (22), 20. Corey Smith (20), 21. Justin Grant (6), 22. Brian VanMeveren (23), 23. Kody Swanson (16). NT
Qualifying Flight-A – 1. 21-Brian Brown, 13.253; 2. 49-Brad Sweet, 13.282; 3. 15-Donny Schatz, 13.287; 4. 2-Carson Macedo, 13.388; 5. W20-Greg Wilson, 13.407; 6. 19-Brent Marks, 13.426; 7. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild, 13.445; 8. 2M-Kerry Madsen, 13.445; 9. 41S-Giovanni Scelzi, 13.446; 10. 70-Brock Zearfoss, 13.45; 11. 13-Paul McMahan, 13.462; 12. 18-Ian Madsen, 13.501; 13. 3-Jac Haudenschild, 13.533; 14. 91-Cale Thomas, 13.537; 15. 99-Skylar Gee, 13.554; 16. G1-Hunter Schuerenberg, 13.643; 17. K4-Chad Kemenah, 13.712; 18. 14M-Marcus Dumesny, 13.94; 19. 2AU-Andrew Scheuerle, 14.077; 20. 4X-Bradley Ashford, 14.117; 21. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 14.371
Qualifying Flight-B – 1. 5-Shane Stewart, 13.194; 2. 1S-Logan Schuchart, 13.325; 3. 41-David Gravel, 13.401; 4. 1A-Jacob Allen, 13.429; 5. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 13.474; 6. 7S-Tim Kaeding, 13.479; 7. 83-Daryn Pittman, 13.48; 8. 26-Cory Eliason, 13.516; 9. 92-Sye Lynch, 13.566; 10. 12N-Joey Saldana, 13.577; 11. 24-Rico Abreu, 13.613; 12. 57-Kyle Larson, 13.65; 13. 71P-Parker Price-Miller, 13.651; 14. 49X-Tim Shaffer, 13.657; 15. 98H-Dave Blaney, 13.662; 16. 9-James McFadden, 13.694; 17. 81-Lee Jacobs, 13.792; 18. 7-Jason Sides, 13.843; 19. 3C-Cale Conley, 13.968; 20. 49D-Shawn Dancer, 14.056; 21. 84-Tom Harris, 14.177
DRYDENE Heat #1 – Flight (A) (8 Laps) – 1. 15-Donny Schatz ; 2. 21-Brian Brown ; 3. W20-Greg Wilson ; 4. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild ; 5. 13-Paul McMahan ; 6. 3-Jac Haudenschild ; 7. 41S-Giovanni Scelzi ; 8. K4-Chad Kemenah ; 9. 99-Skylar Gee ; 10. 2AU-Andrew Scheuerle ; 11. 87-Aaron Reutzel 
DRYDENE Heat #2 – Flight (A) (8 Laps) – 1. 49-Brad Sweet ; 2. 2-Carson Macedo ; 3. 19-Brent Marks ; 4. 2M-Kerry Madsen ; 5. 70-Brock Zearfoss ; 6. 18-Ian Madsen ; 7. 91-Cale Thomas ; 8. G1-Hunter Schuerenberg ; 9. 14M-Marcus Dumesny ; 10. 4X-Bradley Ashford 
DRYDENE Heat #3 – Flight (B) (8 Laps) – 1. 5-Shane Stewart ; 2. 41-David Gravel ; 3. 11K-Kraig Kinser ; 4. 24-Rico Abreu ; 5. 83-Daryn Pittman ; 6. 98H-Dave Blaney ; 7. 92-Sye Lynch ; 8. 71P-Parker Price-Miller ; 9. 3C-Cale Conley ; 10. 84-Tom Harris ; 11. 81-Lee Jacobs 
DRYDENE Heat #4 – Flight (B) (8 Laps) – 1. 1S-Logan Schuchart ; 2. 7S-Tim Kaeding ; 3. 57-Kyle Larson ; 4. 1A-Jacob Allen ; 5. 12N-Joey Saldana ; 6. 49X-Tim Shaffer ; 7. 9-James McFadden ; 8. 26-Cory Eliason ; 9. 49D-Shawn Dancer ; 10. 7-Jason Sides 
DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash (6 Laps) – 1. 2-Carson Macedo ; 2. 49-Brad Sweet ; 3. 41-David Gravel ; 4. 15-Donny Schatz ; 5. 5-Shane Stewart ; 6. 21-Brian Brown ; 7. 1S-Logan Schuchart ; 8. 7S-Tim Kaeding 
C-Main (10 Laps) – 1. 81-Lee Jacobs [-]; 2. 87-Aaron Reutzel [-]; 3. 14M-Marcus Dumesny [$150]; 4. 3C-Cale Conley [$150]; 5. 2AU-Andrew Scheuerle [$150]; 6. 49D-Shawn Dancer [$125]; 7. 84-Tom Harris [$125]; 8. 4X-Bradley Ashford [$125]; 9. K4-Chad Kemenah [$125]; 10. 7-Jason Sides [$125]
Last Chance Showdown (12 Laps) – 1. 26-Cory Eliason [-]; 2. 18-Ian Madsen [-]; 3. 41S-Giovanni Scelzi [-]; 4. 91-Cale Thomas [-]; 5. 3-Jac Haudenschild [$300]; 6. 71P-Parker Price-Miller [$250]; 7. 9-James McFadden [$225]; 8. 87-Aaron Reutzel [$200]; 9. 98H-Dave Blaney [$200]; 10. 92-Sye Lynch [$200]; 11. 99-Skylar Gee [$200]; 12. 81-Lee Jacobs [$200]; 13. G1-Hunter Schuerenberg [$200]; 14. 49X-Tim Shaffer [$200]
NOS Energy Drink Feature (30 Laps) – 1. 15-Donny Schatz [$10,000]; 2. 41-David Gravel [$5,000]; 3. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$3,000]; 4. 49-Brad Sweet [$2,700]; 5. W20-Greg Wilson [$2,500]; 6. 24-Rico Abreu [$2,200]; 7. 11K-Kraig Kinser [$2,000]; 8. 19-Brent Marks [$1,800]; 9. 21-Brian Brown [$1,600]; 10. 2-Carson Macedo [$1,450]; 11. 70-Brock Zearfoss [$1,300]; 12. 83-Daryn Pittman [$1,200]; 13. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$1,100]; 14. 12N-Joey Saldana [$1,000]; 15. 5-Shane Stewart [$950]; 16. 91-Cale Thomas [$900]; 17. 13-Paul McMahan [$850]; 18. 1A-Jacob Allen [$750]; 19. 57-Kyle Larson [$725]; 20. 7S-Tim Kaeding [$700]; 21. 18-Ian Madsen [$700]; 22. 26-Cory Eliason [$700]; 23. 2M-Kerry Madsen [$700]; 24. 41S-Giovanni Scelzi [$700]; Lap Leaders: Brad Sweet 1-7, Donny Schatz 8-30; KSE Hard Charger Award: 24-Rico Abreu[+8]
Courtesy of Campbell Photo