VENTURA, Calif. – Tyler Courtney topped Wednesday’s $1,000 Dash for Cash at Ventura Raceway to set himself up on the pole for the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint Car Series finale at the fifth-mile dirt oval.
Courtney had to use patient aggression to dispatch polesitter Chase Johnson, who was the high point man through heat races and qualifiers, but finally made the winning move stick on lap 13 of 15.
An inside push off the fourth corner, while Johnson was committed to the high lane, gave Courtney the edge and propelled him to victory as he seeks redemption from his runner-up finish in last year’s Turkey Night sprint car feature.
This time he’ll start from the pole in Thursday night’s 41-lap finale, in honor of the late Jason Johnson.
“That right there was proof that you’ve got to be really patient around here, especially in a sprint car,” Courtney said. “There’s not a lot of room; it’s about a sprint car and a half wide, so you just have to bide your time. He (Johnson) kept getting tight into three there, so I knew if I could get a run down the hill like I did when I got to slide him there, I was going to be okay. I knew we were faster, so if I could get by him, I just needed to protect myself for one corner and I could go back to running the line I needed to.
“Steve (Watt) and all his guys over there give me a really good car every year I come out here, so I’m just looking forward to tomorrow now and seeing if we can’t close the deal finally.”
Johnson came up second after starting from the pole and noted after the race that he’s got a little bit of work to do in order to beat Courtney in Thursday’s sprint car finale.
“To lead the first 12 laps of the dash before we got passed, it shows we were good, but we need to still be a little better,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to dig a little deeper to pick up some speed, but overall we’re happy with where we’re at right now and we were for most of the day. Just a little short there.”
Geoff Ensign completed the top-three finishers, followed by Troy Rutherford and Brady Bacon.
Austin Liggett, Tanner Carrick, Tyler Edwards, T.J. Smith and Max Adams were the balance of the top 10.
Wednesday night’s Dash for Cash featured the top 10 cars in combined event points (passing points and finishing points) through heat races and qualifiers.
Tyler Courtney, Chase Johnson, Geoff Ensign, Troy Rutherford, Brady Bacon, Austin Liggett, Tanner Carrick, Tyler Edwards, T.J. Smith, Max Adams.