SPRING RUN, Pa. — The path to victory lane for Chad Boat in the second round of Pennsylvania Midget Week Monday night at Path Valley Speedway Park was anything but linear.
The 30-lap feature saw its share of lead changes, sliders, beating, banging and hot tempers that ended with Boat sliding Tyler Courtney in Turn 1 coming to the white flag on a green-white-checkered restart, resulting in his second USAC National Midget Series win in a span of 11 days.
Like Justin Grant on Sunday, Boat managed to stay clean, avoid trouble and put himself in a position to pounce when things went awry in front of him during the closing stages.
“The top seven or eight of us are so close in speed, any of us can win on any given night,” Boat said. “When other guys have misfortune, you have to capitalize. When you put yourself in a position to win races, you’ll have nights like tonight … or you might have a night like Belleville when you lead all 25 laps. It all seems to even out over the course of a year.”
Boat began the main event from fifth and settled into a groove early, while series rookie Brayton Lynch took off from the pole to lead the first nine laps.
On lap 10, Thorson diamonded turn two cushion, diving low and blasting past both Brady Bacon and Lynch in one move to take the race lead entering turn three.
But once the leaders began working lap traffic with 13 laps remaining, things began to get dicey among the front runners and remained that way throughout the rest of the feature.
Ultimately, with five to go, Bacon slid Thorson on the bottom entering the third turn. The two continued side-by-side through the corner just inches apart when Bacon’s car became sideways, slowing yet still rolling forward atop the fourth turn cushion.
Fourth-running Spencer Bayston had nowhere to go, and the series point leader ramped over Bacon’s left rear wheel, sending him flipping twice down the banking. Bacon would restart after taking his car to the work area and returned to finish ninth, but Bayston exited the race with a 19th-place finish. He was uninjured in the incident.
On the restart, Thorson opted for the high line in Turns 1 and 2 and the bottom in Turns 3 and 4, with Tyler Courtney now close behind.
Coming to the checkered flag, Courtney took one last shot in the final set of turns and dove to the bottom of Turn 3 underneath Thorson. The two made contact, sending Thorson into a 360 spin in the middle of the fourth turn. Third-running Boat was hard on the binders, just narrowly missing Thorson by the width of a credit card.
Grant was not as lucky. He ran into the melee after smacking into the back of Boat and went flipping near the turn four wall, but exited the car without injury.
That set up the green-white-checkered attempt, where Courtney stumbled on the turn one cushion, allowing Boat’s slider to easily give the second-generation open wheel racer the lead and his fifth-career series win.
In an interesting twist, all five of Grant’s USAC National Midget wins have come during the month of August.
“Our car was really good all throughout the feature,” Boat explained. “Early on, we kind of got used up and fell back. I had to put my nose down and get digging. For a while there, I thought we were going to run fifth or sixth with a car capable of winning. But on that run with five to go after Spencer’s crash, I really got the middle working in (Turns) 1 and 2. I just had to find a place to run in (Turns) 3 and 4. I knew where I wanted to go when I was working on getting by Justin (Grant).”
Courtney settled for second, but was disappointed with the final outcome.
“I should’ve went in a car-width lower than I did. I just had a brain fart there,” Courtney admitted. “That’s all there is to it. I messed up.”
USAC/ARDC Eastern Midget Series point leader Ryan Greth scored his career-best national tour finish with a podium effort in third, followed by Holly Shelton and Lynch.
Pennsylvania Midget Week continues at Lanco’s Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway on Tuesday night.
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…