Tyler Courtney stumbled at first though ultimately came home the winner on the tiny but racy 8th of a mile Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway in Newmanstown, Pennsylvania to sweep a rain shortened Eastern Midget Week.
The USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series had planned to compete on 5 occasions for this mini-series. Opening night at Grandview Speedway was rained out. Courtney won Night two at Action Track USA. Nights three and four at Bridgeport and Path Valley track were also lost to adverse weather.
The tight and banked track played host to the 26-Car field with Courtney fastest in first hot-laps then qualifying in a time of 10.662 seconds.
Three heat races were contested over 10-Laps to find the top five from each race to occupy the first 15 starting spots in the Feature race. The heat racing was action packed with plenty of frenetic paced passes with plenty of opportunity for reciprocation. Tanner Thorson from 8th to finish forth in the first heat race which was won by Kevin Thomas Jnr. and Courtney second.
Tanner Carrick won heat race two from grid four and series point leader Chris Windom passed four cars to win the final heat race.
Those drivers that finished outside the top-5 in their heat had a last chance to make the final race via a 12-Lap Semi-Main. The top 7 advancing through were Daison Pursley, Dillon Welch, Andrew Layser, Kyle Cummins, Emerson Axsom, Jimmy Glenn and Jeff Champagne.
The 24 –Car field lined up with Carrick and Windom on the front row and Justin Grant and Chase Johnson in row two. The third row was Michael Buddy Kofoid and Courtney with Thomas Jnr., Welch, Pursley and Robert Dalby starting in the top ten.
As the 40-Lap feature go under way Carrick led after Windom bounced up the track with cars two and three wide behind them. The ruts on the lower part of turn one started to develop and added an element of chance to the flow of the race.
With only a few laps in the books Courtney lost momentum on the high side with a bad hop, his car half stalling in the path of grant whose shunt bought Courtney’s SR-11 MOPAR back to life but leaving grant stopped on the tack and forced to restart at the rear of the field.
The race resumed but was soon brought to a halt with the red lights on for Kenny Johnson who found the ruts in turn one and tumbled over. At the same time Courtney had also gotten his car well out of shape but was spared by the Johnson roll.
Carrick once again led with Chase Johnson now in second, briefly. Windom slid Johnson. The pair were then passed by Courtney at the same time. Chase able to turn under Windom to recoup a position however forced to yield to Courtney. Axsom found himself stationary on the track in need of a restart bringing out the caution with 6 laps completed.
Johnson was now in third with Windom ready to make his move close behind. Windom slid Johnson who countered. The pair swapping spots until Johnson half spun on the cushion and locked up the brakes as the car ploughed towards the slushy mud beneath the pole line.
Carrick now had Courtney to deal with at the restart. Behind them Windom had Kofoid looking for his 1st USAC National Midget win. Both Courtney and Kofoid made moves that stuck. This put Courtney in the lead and Kofoid 3rd as he began to look at Carrick in second.
Kofoid got around Carrick who now had Windom to deal with. Carrick fought hard to retain third as Windom was passed by McIntosh in the Keith Kunz Bullet-Toyota just as the yellow flags were waived for debris on the track. The debris being a wheel cover from hard charging Thorson who started deep in the field on grid nineteen after a poor qualifying run.
With 10 laps remaining Courtney stuck to the top with Kofoid bouncing around the low line even with the leader more than once until Windom broke his steering slowing the race. Windom retiring from the race with series points implications.
Courtney led the restart until Welch locked the car down to avoid colliding with Thorson who had hit the cushion and turned his car sharply down the track to recover. The following restart gave Kofoid a final shot at the lead but was unable to catch Courtney.
McIntosh was third with Carrick and Thorson in the top 5. Pursley, Grant Johnson Cole Bodine and Dalby rounding out the top five.
“That was a lot of fun” Courtney said of his first win at the venue. “I think some moisture came back there. We saw some really hectic racing”
USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Series Points:
The next USAC NOS Energy Drink National Series race is a Special event, non-points race at Lucas Oil Raceway Park in Indianapolis on the paved 0.686 Mile oval for the 70th running of the Night Before The 500 race on August 22nd.
For live and on demand footage visit https://www.floracing.com/
Title image curtsey of Mike Howard Photos