Indianapolis, Indiana resident ‘Sunshine’ Tyler Courtney claimed his second win and the points lead of the United Truck Parts International Midget Car Series, taking out the King of the Springs 40 lapper at Western Springs Speedway.
Though an overcast morning greeted the field, the afternoon sun came out with ferocity and dried out the flat smooth track more than anticipated. The heat made it hard work with the majority of cars using the pole line or losing spots if they ventured higher.
The points were tallied and the top 16 wwas locked in to the A-Main with the rest in the 10-lap B-Main. The 14-car event to take the top four to join the rear of the 40-lapper.
This was won by Californian Logan Seavey who started sixth and yo-yoed as low as 10th before climbing back to fifth on a restart with three laps to go.
The 2018 USAC National Midget Champion pitched his car in on the high side picked off all four cars ahead with the final pass on young Aucklander Matthew McCutcheon as they crossed the line.
Peter Hunnibell and Ryan O’Connor also transferring to the back row of the A-Main.
Former F2 Midget Champion and Midget rookie, Nathan Howard’s fifth and second place heat finishes earned him pole position for the King of the Springs. A third and fourth set of heat results gave North Island Midget Champ Aaron Hodgson outside front row.
Heat 1 winner Zeb Wise started from row two with young local Brett Jnr Morris in his Youth Speed Bullet – Esslinger. Australian Travis Mills and Courtney in row three. Heat winners Kyle Larson and James Cossey were on row 4.
As the race got underway Courtney made short work of the cars immediately ahead and had the lead by Lap 3 using the high line, which was now out by the wall but still flat with no cushion. At the same time American Zeb Wise pulled into the infield.
Kyle Larson had gotten passed Howard for third as the caution lights came on for Mills and eight-time Midget Champ Michael Pickens who came together. Pickens took a tumble and claimed fault as both dejected drivers made their way to the infield.
Second-generation driver Travis Buckley, McCutcheon and Hunnibell also came to a halt with McCutcheon and Hunnibell restarting.
At the restart Hodgson led Courtney briefly until Courtney threw a slide job. Hodgson accepted the pass and attempted to follow the rim riding American but erred on corner entry conceding second to Larson who was now set to pursue Courtney for first.
Most of the cars took the long way round in search of faster unused clay near the wall.
Teenage Australian Kaidon Brown was hot off three podium finishes and still piloting the United Truck Parts once driven by Bryan Clauson, a three-time winner of this race which in previous iterations bore his name and number.
Brown put in work on Howard for fifth then Morris for fourth with 10 laps in the books. Ten laps later Brown caught and passed Hodgson.
Larson showed his nose to Courtney with 13 laps to go but was unable to get along side. Larson re-gathered and launched several slide job attempts but nothing close enough to bother Courtney as he went on to win comfortably over Larson and Brown – all three driving the locally produced King Chassis.
American Sprint Car Champion Chris Windom gained 12 spots to finish fourth with Hodgson the first Kiwi home in fifth. Morris, Seavey, Guptill, Williams, and McCutcheon in the top 10. Seavey passed 11 cars in a good effort.
Seavey’s Greenway Racing teammate and series point leader Zach Daum had a tyre deflating in the late stages of the race. Officials classifying the driver as not finishing yet completing all laps.
The team was perplexed as to how a car can be deemed, by officials, in a good enough state to be allowed to continue racing and complete the race and yet retrospectively removed from the results.
Courtney now assumes the point lead 14 points over Daum with Brown 29 points behind the leader. Guptill is the top local 31 points back. Round winners Pickens and Larson out of contention for series honours.
Other winners on the night were Corbin Anderson in the Formula 2 Midgets, South Islander Matthew Leversedge in Sprintcars and in the New Zealand Three Quarter Midget Car Championship fellow South Islander Jeremy Webb made history becoming the 1st to win a third TQ title in a row.
The final round of the series is at Western Springs Speedway for the 50 Lap Classic on 5 January.
Unofficial race results and timing HERE
Catch all the action from this meeting on demand at www.speedshifttv.com