(Rich Forman photo)
Lonnie Wheatley, INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (February 23,
2018) – It was a near perfect start to the 2018 USAC Amsoil National
Sprint Car season for Tyler Courtney and the Clauson-Marshall-Newman
Racing Priority Aviation No. 7bc Sprint Car team.
Only slowed by a cut tire in the opening leg of
last weekend’s “Winter Dirt Games” at Bubba Raceway Park, “Sunshine”
stormed to victory lane on both Friday and Saturday night atop the
3/8-mile clay oval in Ocala, FL, to escape the Sunshine State among the
top three in series points.
“It’s good for everyone on the team,” the driver
of the Rider-powered Driven2SaveLives Spike-chassis explains.
“It gives us a lot of confidence going into the rest of the
season, it takes a lot of question marks out about whether this was the
right move to make or not.”
There was little to question about the Schoenfeld
Headers/Wilwood Brakes team in last weekend’s set of events.
“The only thing that could have been better would
have been to win the opening night too,” Courtney comments.
“I didn’t get the greatest of qualifying laps and put us behind
the eight ball.”
After winning his heat race, Courtney was still on
the move in Thursday’s opening round of the “Winter Dirt Games” before a
cut tire interrupted his charge.
“We had passed seven cars in the first ten laps,
the car was definitely good,” Courtney explained after his run from the
17th starting position.
Courtney went on to salvage an eleventh-place
finish in the opener before literally owning the rest of the weekend on
Friday and Saturday.
He timed in third aboard the CSI Shocks/Walker
Filtration entry on Friday before winning his heat race and then making
an impressive slide past two rivals into the lead on the third round of
the feature. Courtney led the rest of the way in the
30-lapper for his first triumph of the young season after posting 15
wins last year.
“I knew I needed to get there,” Courtney explains.
“I was running that next groove up from where they were and it
stuck. I knew it was only a matter of time before
they got there too. So, I knew I needed to get by
them and get going.”
After timing in eighth on Saturday night, Courtney
won his third heat race of the weekend and landed on the pole of the
30-lap “Winter Dirt Games” finale. He left little
doubt from there, bursting into the lead at the outset and checking out
on the field for a second win in as many nights.
“I think it handled even better tonight,” Courtney
commented afterward. “We were able to go pretty much
anywhere I put it.”
It was the season opening weekend that “Sunshine”
and the Clauson-Marshall-Newman Racing team was seeking.
“We made our mark, was just have to keep digging,”
“I’m anxious to get to the next one at
Lawrenceburg, I just wish it was sooner,” Courtney comments of the next
race on the USAC National Sprint Car slate on March 31.
“That will give the guys plenty of time to go through everything
and be sure we’re ready.”
The opening weekend’s wins also came aboard a car
that featured a throwback look to a past Bryan Clauson entry.
“That was a cool throwback to a car that Bryan
drove for Chuck (Eberhardt) and Fred (Zirzow),” Courtney explains.
“That meant a lot because Chuck and Fred were the first guys to
take chance on me and put me in a car when nobody knew if could even
race or not.”
“Sunshine” clearly carried the colors admirably.
After what will be a rare idle weekend, Courtney
is back in action next Wednesday and Thursday with the USAC West Coast
Sprint Cars at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas for the Seventh Annual Sin
City Showdown aboard Mike Phulps’ Metal Works No. 56 Sprint Car.
2018 Quick Stats:
5 races, 2 wins, 3 top-fives, 3 top-tens.
USAC West Coast Sprint Cars at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas on Wednesday
and Thursday, February 28 and March 1. For those
unable to catch the action in person, it is available via PPV on
Keep track of Tyler Courtney’s on-track action including schedule
and results at
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Penning the recurring series of “The Wheatley
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Lonnie Wheatley provides media, public relations and more for select
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Wheatley may be contacted at