VENTURA, Calif. — Tyler Courtney found a lane that no one else dared to tread on during Thursday night’s USAC West Coast/VRA Sprint Car main event at Ventura Raceway, and made it pay off with a big victory at the end of 30 laps.
Courtney ripped the high lane around the Ventura fifth-mile and soared around the outside of both Chase Briscoe and Wednesday night winner Brady Bacon, taking the lead with 11 laps to go and never looking back en route to the win.
For Courtney, the 360 sprint car triumph puts him in position to claim the ARP Double Duty $50,000-To-Win bonus, should he come out on top of the 98-lap Turkey Night Grand Prix midget feature.
“(ARP’s) Chris (Raschke) put up a lot of money for us this weekend, and I wanted to go out and have a shot at it,” said Courtney in victory lane. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal and I’m just grateful to have a chance to win it.”
“I’m glad I was able to get a deal put together to come out and run both legs of this deal. I put us behind the 8-ball a little bit in the midget, and I know I’ve got some work to do in that with starting 23rd … but we’ll be coming for them and I’m looking forward to it. It’s gonna be a long race, but it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”
Though Klint Simpson was the man who got the initial jump, leading from the outside pole on the opening green flag, it was Wednesday winner Bacon who asserted his dominance early with a nasty slider for the lead on lap four in turns three and four.
Once he got the lead, Bacon powered out to a margin of a second and a quarter over the field in just seven laps, while behind him, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year Chase Briscoe moved into second on the 12th round
Just as the leaders were crossing the halfway point, the night’s first yellow flew for a stopped Chase Johnson in turn one.
The restart was where Courtney realized he needed to move up the track if he wanted a shot at victory.
“It actually helped us to not be in the lead, because they (Bacon and Briscoe) had to stick to the bottom because that’s what was working for them,” explained Courtney. “I didn’t have anything to lose, so I went to the top, found something and was able to get by them before they found it and could fight me too hard.”
He did so, and in just six laps had enough momentum wound up to storm around Briscoe in turns one and two, before completing the pass for the win around the top side of Bacon on the opposite end of the race track.
Not even a red flag for a flip by Troy Rutherford with seven to go could derail Courtney’s momentum at the front of the field.
Once cleanup was completed and the green flag returned for the final time, Courtney pulled out to a 1.215 second victory over Bacon and Briscoe, as that duo scrapped tooth-and-nail for second behind him.
“I think we made some mistakes with the car, and it cost us there at the end of the race,” Bacon lamented. “The track got a lot slicker than we thought, but Tyler drove a good race, too. He was in a better position to capitalize from behind. I was worried about that … not knowing what the track was going to do. It cleaned up pretty fast on the top once a couple guys moved up there.”
Briscoe completed the podium in third, with Kliunt Simpson and Brody Roa filling out the rest of the top five.
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…