ALGER, Wash. — It didn’t take long for Tyler Courtney to get acquainted with Skagit Speedway.
After completing last week’s Ohio Sprint Week with the Tezos All-Star Circuit of Champions, “Sunshine” hopped on a plane bound for the West Coast with plans to compete in the 50th annual Super Dirt Cup later this week aboard Kevin Kozlowski’s Works Limited No. 57 machine.
And on Monday night at the Dirt Cup Tune Up, Courtney got the week started strong by parking that Paul Silva-prepared car in victory lane in his Skagit Speedway debut after a fierce battle with Corey Day.
“I’m just excited,” Courtney said. “It’s a cool first trip here to Skagit. Hopefully we can have races like that the rest of the week… This is a totally different race car than what I drive back home, so getting to come out here with an extra night, getting gelled with these guys, and getting acclimated to a different race car is pretty big.”
Courtney brought the field to green with Day alongside. Willie Croft jumped into the runner-up spot from the second row and appeared poised to challenge Courtney until an issue slowed him and brought out the first caution.
A barrage of early yellow flags continued to slow the race and not allow a rhythm to be established as there were four cautions within the first 10 laps.
After the final of the four, the green flag stayed out, and wild battles broke out all over the racy Skagit Speedway.
Trey Starks, who had already advanced from 10th to fourth, sliced it up with Joel Myers Jr for a spot on the podium immediately after the restart. Eventually, Myers Jr. took control of the spot after a few laps of wheel-to-wheel action, fending off the Northwest’s hottest driver.
Up ahead of them Day began to reel in Courtney in traffic as the race hit the halfway point, even making a couple moves to try and get next to Courtney but not having the momentum to pull alongside.
Meanwhile, Justin Sanders, Myers Jr. and Starks all began to reel in the lead duo as they navigate thick traffic on the track’s tight confines.
Finally, on the 19th circuit, Day found himself with enough of a run to throw a turn three slider and clear the defending All-Star champion. Day bounced off the cushion on the exit of turn four, getting himself out of shape and allowing Courtney back by down the frontstretch.
Day refused to go down easy though, launching his car ahead of Courtney as the pair entered turn one. Courtney again crossed over and slid ahead of Day in turn three, and Day couldn’t quite find them momentum to try his own crossover.
One last opportunity arose for Day with just nine to go as Courtney scrubbed some speed passing a slower car. Day looked to his inside in turn three, but with having to clear the same lapped car as Courtney, Day couldn’t quite throw the car far enough in the corner to complete another slider as Courtney drove around the outside.
“I was racing probably one of the best kids that’s up and coming right now,” Courtney said. “He races with a lot of respect, and I tried to give it back to him there. Corey is fun to race, and I’m looking forward to racing him for a long time.”
Courtney went on to make some great moves in traffic and distance himself from Day in the final laps, ultimately winning by a comfortable two second advantage.
Though Courtney was happy with the victory, his sights are still set on the goal that he came west for.
“This is just the first night,” Courtney said. “We’ve got three more nights and 50 grand on the line Saturday.”
Rick Smith won the modified feature.
Tyler Courtney, Corey Day, Justin Sanders, Joel Myers Jr., Shane Golobic, Trey Starks, Dominic Scelzi, Austen Wheatley, Tanner Carrick, D.J. Netto, Kerry Madsen, Max Mitry, Bud Kaeding, Nick Parker, Jesse Schlotfeldt, Jason Solwold, Jonathan Allard, Mitchell Faccinto, Blake Carrick, Greg Hamilton, Seth Bergman, Tanner Holmes, Tim Kaeding, Willie Croft