Sunshine Set for Weekend Triple after Leading the Way in the Smackdown

Lonnie Wheatley, INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 31, 2018) – Last weekend’s USAC Sprint Car “Kokomo Sprint Car Smackdown VII” was going perfectly for Tyler Courtney and the Clauson-Marshall-Newman Racing Priority Aviation No. 7bc Sprint Car team.

Until the rains came on Saturday that is.

With the Kokomo Smackdown finale reset for Sunday, September 9, “Sunshine” and team resume USAC Sprint Car action at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, IL, on Friday and Federated Auto Parts I-55 Raceway in Pevely, MO, on Saturday before he takes the wheel of the Hans Lein No. 97 USAC Silver Crown entry for Sunday’s “Ted Horn 100” at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds in Illinois.

“I think it’s a couple of tracks that fit where we’re at with our program right now, so I’m looking forward to the weekend,” Courtney said of the weekend USAC Sprint Car double after running his season win total to ten last weekend.

Courtney knocked on USAC Silver Crown victory lane door last time out at Springfield only to have late mechanical issues cut his run short.  “We have a new engine in and it’s ready to go,” Courtney said of the Lein No. 97.  “It will be my first time to race at Du Quoin, it should be fun.”

Courtney had plenty of fun last weekend at Indiana’s Kokomo Speedway before the Saturday rain, posting a runner-up finish in the Wednesday night #GYATK Fan Appreciation special and then topping Thursday night’s Smackdown VII opener before landing another runner-up finish in Friday’s feature.

The first and second place Smackdown preliminary feature finishes have Courtney at the top of the event points charts.

“It’s a little disappointing not to be able to carry that momentum directly into the final night, but hopefully we can just carry that into this week and then on into next week,” Courtney explained.

After a heat race win and runner-up finish in the Wednesday #GYATK card that kicked off the week, Courtney capitalized on a qualifying effort of third to slide past C.J. Leary for the lead on the 21st round en route to Smackdown preliminary victory lane on Thursday night.

"I didn't really need a caution," Courtney says.  "You get in a rhythm there and you don't know if you're going to be able to get back in that rhythm.  I felt like we were better, and we could've gotten him without a caution, but the caution definitely didn't hurt."

Timing in third-quick again on Friday, “Sunshine” survived a treacherous turn two to finish out the night second and escape preliminary action atop the point charts.

“We had another really good car,” Courtney said afterward.  “I knew Tyler (Thomas) really wanted to win that and I knew if I was going to win, I was going to have go even harder than he was.  I figured it was best to save our stuff for the next night.”

Qualifying among the top-six invert put Courtney and crew in prime position during both nights of Smackdown competition.

“As long as we put ourselves in good position like that, it gives us a good shot at winning,” Courtney explains.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature pushed that Smackdown finale back to September 9.  “Sunshine” will stay occupied until then with this weekend’s USAC Sprint Car double at Tri-City Speedway and Federated Auto Parts I-55 Raceway and Sunday’s USAC Silver Crown event at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds followed up by the USAC Midget “BC 39” next Wednesday and Thursday and another USAC Sprint Car card at Gas City I-69 Speedway next Friday.

2018 Quick Stats:  54 races, 10 wins, 32 top-fives, 40 top-tens.

Quick Results:

Wednesday, August 22 – 2nd at Kokomo Speedway #GYATK Fan Appreciation Night

Thursday, August 23 – 1st in USAC Sprint Cars at the Kokomo Smackdown VII

Friday, August 24 – 2nd in USAC Sprint Cars at the Kokomo Smackdown VII

Saturday, August 25 – Rained Out at USAC Sprint Cars Kokomo Smackdown VII finale (Rescheduled for Sunday, September 9).

Up Next: USAC National Sprint Cars Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL) on Friday and Federated Auto Parts I-55 Raceway (Pevely, MO) on Saturday, then USAC Silver Crown at the Du Quoin (IL) State Fairgrounds on Sunday.

Keep Track:  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 Chronicles” articles on, Lonnie Wheatley provides media, public relations and more for select tracks, drivers and events.  For more information, Wheatley may be contacted at