ROSSBURG, Ohio — Tyler Courtney became the first driver to win three-straight USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget races at Eldora Speedway during Friday night‘s BeFour The Crowns feature.
Courtney tracked down leader Chris Windom near the halfway point of the non-stop, green-to-checker 25-lapper, backing up his two previous wins at the Big E in 2018 and ‘19.
“This is only our second time running the midget this year and (car owner/crew chief) Tim (Clauson) was on it,” Courtney praised. “It‘s cool to put this car back in victory lane, especially here at Eldora. This is a tough weekend, especially with everything I‘m trying to do. To get it off on the right foot is definitely really special.”
Making just his second series appearance of the year in his Clauson Marshall Racing/NOS Energy Drink Turbo — ZMax Race Products/Spike/Stanton SR-11x, Courtney started third, while Windom pulled out to the lead from the pole.
Windom continued to work up high, right-rear tire right up on the outside wall, while Emerson Axsom put his left rear to the wall on the bottom to close within a car length of Windom at the start/finish line at the conclusion of lap five.
Courtney had been making steady and gradual inroads on Axsom. As Axsom shifted his focus to the top at the flag stand on the ninth lap, Courtney instantaneously undercut Axsom and shot to the bottom of turn one, gliding past the Eldora first timer for the runner up position.
Courtney put the scope on Windom, rattled the rubber against the outside wall as he pursued his prey. That moment came on lap 12 when Courtney lunged forth on the bottom of turn three, drifted upward to the wall, then subsequently slid himself through the middle in the first turn a half-lap later to prevent any sort of an attempted comeback from Windom.
“It‘s a big momentum thing, so I knew he was probably going to try and come back,” Courtney admitted. “I felt really good going across there when I slid him the first time. I know I needed to close the door on him so he couldn‘t slide me back. I really love racing with Chris, and I haven‘t gotten to do it a whole lot this year.”
Within just a few laps, Courtney constructed a demonstrative 10-car length lead that proved to be insurmountable down the stretch as he threaded through the tail-end of the field without any hiccups, as smooth and steady as the constant stream of water at Ludlow Falls.
Courtney‘s final winning margin of 2.987 seconds came over a late-surging Logan Seavey with Windom, point leader Buddy Kofoid and fast qualifier Spencer Bayston rounding out the top five.
The high line paid dividends for Courtney.
“I wasn‘t quite sure there at the beginning of the race, but I knew, if it kept getting higher over there, (the track) was going to keep coming to us,” Courtney explained. “We were a little tight at the beginning, so I knew it was going to come to us at the end there. Luckily, I caught Chris and Emerson there at the right time where I passed them and didn‘t have to worry about them passing me back.”
Seavey turned up the wick late, charging under, past and by Windom for the runner-up position coming to the white flag after working on him for the entire second half of the race in his Tom Malloy/Trench Shoring — Rodela Specialty Fabrication/King/Ed Pink Toyota.
“I felt like, in open track, I needed to clear him in three and four, and I could just never do that,” Seavey said. “I was really good through the middle, but then it made me struggle to get across the front stretch to get back to the top to get into one. I was giving up a lot getting into one with what I was doing, but a lapped car backed it down at the perfect time and I was able to hit the bottom there off four and go by him.”
Windom led 11 laps and finished inside the top-four for the fifth consecutive feature in his CB Industries/NOS Energy Drink — PristineAuction.com — K & C Drywall/Spike/Speedway Toyota.
“I felt like I was pretty good the first part of that race, then I think my tire went away a little more than these guys after looking at them in victory lane,” Windom observed. “Obviously, Tyler is really good here and those two factors didn‘t help us at all. I think we‘ll be good for tomorrow night, though. This car is rolling; we‘ve got to be a little better to beat him, but I think we‘ll be there.”
To see full results, turn to the next page.