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21

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Contact: Richie Murray - USAC Media / richie@usacracing.com

COURTNEY CHECKS OUT FOR 2ND STRAIGHT "WINTER DIRT GAMES" WIN IN OCALA

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

February 17, 2018 Ocala, Florida....In the spirit of the Winter Olympic games, Tyler Courtney's performance on Saturday night at Bubba Raceway Park could only be described as flawless - even coming from the Russian judge.

No, you won't find any triple axels or double lutzes in his 30-lap performance, but you will find the precise execution of a race where nary a single wheel was turned wrong lap-after-lap on his way to a commanding USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature win, his second in as many nights at "Winter Dirt Games" in his Clauson Marshall Newman Racing/Priority Aviation - Competition Suspension, Inc./Spike/Rider Chevy.

"I think it handled even better tonight," Courtney revealed. "We were able to go pretty much anywhere I put it. Hats off to Tim (Clauson) and the guys. They've worked their tails off since the week after the Chili Bowl leading up to this. This is the least I can do to repay those guys for the hours and the blood, sweat and tears that go into this. This is a really a good way to start off the year. Obviously, it's early, so you can't really worry about points, but it definitely puts us in a good spot heading into Lawrenceburg."

Tyler Courtney won his second straight USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature Saturday night at Bubba Raceway Park in the 'Winter Dirt Games' finale. (Rich Forman Photo)

From the drop of the green, pole sitter Courtney checked out, last seen headed northbound on I-75 out of Ocala carrying the winner's check under his arm. Only Chris Windom was able to present a brief challenge in the early stages of the event before falling back into line.

Windom, the defending series champ, charged from fifth to second on the opening lap past a stout group that included C.J. Leary, Chad Boespflug and Dave Darland. Yet, by midway, Courtney had ridden the cushion to more than a half-straightaway lead over Windom, who could never get close enough to present a challenge to Courtney in a race that went caution-free for the final 27 laps following a lap three caution for the stoppage of Garrett Aitken.

"I knew on that one and only restart, I could hear a guy behind me, so I kind of picked it up a little bit to see if I could either gain or lose the motor sound in my ear," Courtney explained. "It kept getting quieter and quieter, so I knew I had to be doing something right. I just kept chugging away and hitting my marks as I searched to see if the track was changing or not. We were able to work through lapped traffic nicely. When they got the move over flag, they either held their ground or moved once and didn't move again. It makes it a lot easier when the lapped cars are good like that. You try not to worry about the guys behind you, you try to worry about your own race, but it's nice when you come in and they say you had a pretty big lead."

When all was said and done, Courtney wrapped up a dominating 2.5 second victory over Windom, Boespflug, Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Darland to become the first driver to win back-to-back USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car features this early in the season since Tracy Hines in 2013.

"Winter Dirt Games" is unique in that it is almost like a mini-season within a season. It's a three-race excursion separated on its own island on the schedule in the month of February, preceding the bulk of the season which typically gets underway in late March, early April. In this case, it's a full six weeks until the next series event, March 31 at Indiana's Lawrenceburg Speedway.

'We had a semi-frustrating night the first time out, we just put our nose to the ground and kept digging. I think it obviously proved that if you stay focused on your goals, you can achieve them.' - Tyler Courtney (Al Steinberg Photo)

There may not be much, mechanically-speaking, that a team can take away from what they learned at a uniquely-shaped venue such as the 3/8-mile D-shaped track at Bubba Raceway Park and apply it to the high-banks of Lawrenceburg, but there are certain aspects of it that a driver and crew can learn from each other that will benefit them when the season gets in full swing despite the substantial time off over the next month-and-a-half. After a relatively rough showing, and an 11th place finish in Thursday night's season opener, Courtney and CMNR found something amongst themselves.

"Don't give up," Courtney noted. "We had a semi-frustrating night the first time out, we just put our nose to the ground and kept digging. I think it obviously proved that if you stay focused on your goals, you can achieve them."

"You have to stay humble and keep plugging away," Courtney continued. "I know these guys are going to go back to the shop and get her all maintenanced up and go through everything, just like we're restarting the season again. Luckily, for me, I get to go to Vegas and get to run for Mike Phulps and his 360 team here in the next week or so, so I get to stay fresh, then I get to hop into the midget at Du Quoin (on March 10). As a team, we really don't have a whole lot of downtime here. It makes things a little easier, but anytime you can stay in a racecar, it's beneficial to driving. The more laps you get, the better you're going to get."

Contingency award winners Saturday night at Bubba Raceway Park include Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Indiana Mafia Fast Qualifier), Robert Ballou (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Kody Swanson (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Timmy Buckwalter (Chalk Stix Third Heat Winner), Tyler Courtney (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner), Chris Windom (KSE Racing Products/ProSource Hard Charger), Kyle Cummins (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), Johnny Petrozelle (Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer), Mario Clouser (ProSource Hard Work Award) and Isaac Chapple (Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier).

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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: February 17, 2018 - Ocala, Florida - Bubba Raceway Park - "Winter Dirt Games 9"

QUALIFYING: 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 69, Dynamics-13.900; 2. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-14.033; 3. Logan Seavey, 5B, Briscoe-14.094; 4. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-14.241; 5. Dave Darland, 36D, Goodnight/Curb-Agajanian-14.249; 6. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-14.274; 7. Chad Boespflug, 98, NineEight-14.275; 8. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-14.312; 9. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-14.343; 10. Kyle Cummins, 3c, EZR/Cummins-14.375; 11. Carson Short, 21, RCM-14.375; 12. Brady Bacon, 63, Dooling-Hayward/RCR-14.412; 13. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-14.439; 14. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-14.458; 15. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-14.482; 16. Nick Bilbee, 2E, Epperson-14.483; 17. Kent Schmidt, 5K, Schmidt-14.492; 18. Kody Swanson, 3R, Rock Steady-14.675; 19. Timmy Buckwalter, 7, LNB-14.707; 20. Garrett Aitken, 32A, Aitken-14.860; 21. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-14.863; 22. Mike Martin, 16, Martin-14.887; 23. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-14.924; 24. Johnny Petrozelle, 59, Petrozelle-15.007; 25. Mario Clouser, 6, MCM-15.078; 26. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-15.330; 27. Slater Helt, 22s, Helt-15.355; 28. Frank Carlsson, 20, Carlsson-16.271.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Ballou, 2. Thomas, 3. Chapple, 4. Darland, 5. Schmidt, 6. Clouser, 7. Mattox. 1:56.48

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Swanson, 2. Cummins, 3. Andretti, 4. Windom, 5. Grant, 6. Martin, 7. Bell. 1:55.66

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Buckwalter, 2. Short, 3. Stockon, 4. Boespflug, 5. Seavey, 6. Simon, 7. Helt. 1:56.18

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Courtney, 2. Bacon, 3. Leary, 4. Aitken, 5. Bilbee, 6. Petrozelle, 7. Carlsson. 1:56.06

SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer) 1. Grant, 2. Bilbee, 3. Seavey, 4. Mattox, 5. Clouser, 6. Simon, 7. Petrozelle, 8. Schmidt, 9. Martin, 10. Bell, 11. Helt, 12. Carlsson. NT

FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Tyler Courtney (1), 2. Chris Windom (5), 3. Chad Boespflug (2), 4. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (6), 5. Dave Darland (3), 6. C.J. Leary (4), 7. Robert Ballou (9), 8. Carson Short (11), 9. Justin Grant (8), 10. Brady Bacon (12), 11. Logan Seavey (7), 12. Chase Stockon (15), 13. Kyle Cummins (10), 14. Jarett Andretti (14), 15. Nick Bilbee (16), 16. Kody Swanson (17), 17. Timmy Buckwalter (18), 18. Isaac Chapple (13), 19. Mario Clouser (22), 20. Garrett Aitken (19), 21. Brandon Mattox (20), 22. Landon Simon (21). NT
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FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Courtney.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS/PROSOURCE HARD CHARGER: Chris Windom (5th to 2nd)

SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS FIRST NON-TRANSFER: Johnny Petrozelle

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Kyle Cummins

PROSOURCE HARD WORK AWARD: Mario Clouser

INDIANA MAFIA FAST QUALIFIER AWARD: Kevin Thomas, Jr.

ROGER & BARB TAPY 13TH FASTEST QUALIFIER: Isaac Chapple

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Thomas-227, 2-Windom-219, 3-Courtney-209, 4-Boespflug-182, 5-Leary-179, 6-Cummins-172, 7-Stockon-170, 8-Ballou-170, 9-Grant-168, 10-Short-164.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: March 31 - Lawrenceburg, Indiana - Lawrenceburg Speedway

Categories : News, Short Track, Sprints, USAC
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Contact: Richie Murray - USAC Media / richie@usacracing.com

FLORIDA IS SUNSHINE'S STATE AFTER WINNING "WINTER DIRT GAMES" NIGHT 2

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Ocala, Florida.........The evolution of Tyler Courtney's USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car career has progressed by leaps and bounds over the past few seasons. In 2016, he broke into the win column for the first time. In 2017, he had a career-high five series wins. For 2018, the next logical step would be to contend for a series title.

Although the season is admittedly early, Courtney took a big leap toward that goal after a dominating performance Friday on night two of "Winter Dirt Games 9" at Bubba Raceway Park as he drove his Clauson-Marshall-Newman Racing/Priority Aviation - Competition Suspension, Inc./Spike/Rider Chevy to the front on lap three and led the remaining 28 laps to score his first victory for the team in their new sprinter.

Ocala has been a battleground that has proven to be a thorn in Courtney's side throughout his career. Four of his five starts at the 3/8-mile D-shaped track coming into Friday had resulted in finishes of 11th or worse. After a rough start a year ago and an equally tumultuous beginning on Thursday night, the Indianapolis, Indiana native licked his war wounds and arrived in a new frame of mind, a trait he said he didn't possess at this point last season.

"If I was in this position a year ago, I probably would've struggled again tonight," Courtney admits. "I took last year and learned how to handle myself from one night to the next, especially on a long trip like this. You just have to take last night and put it behind you and reset and give your team your best effort because you know they're going to give you their best effort every night. This is a really good way to start off the trip and year, especially since last year I think I came out either 14th or 15th in points. That makes the road to hoe a long one. This is really cool to start this way with a new team. There's always question marks, but I think we kind of threw those away tonight and, hopefully, made a statement that we're here to be a contender all year."

In 2017, Courtney's performance was clicking at a steady beat with TOPP Motorsports as he posted the best numbers of his career across the board. During the offseason, however, Courtney made the bold jump to Clauson-Marshall-Newman Racing full-time, the same team he competes with on the USAC Midget National Championship trail. For most, it takes more than a moment to jell properly with the team and its operations, but Courtney has a familiarity with these particular surroundings as a driver that is second to none, making the adaptation to each other in just the snap of a finger.

'If I was in this position a year ago, I probably would've struggled again tonight. I took last year and learned how to handle myself from one night to the next, especially on a long trip like this. You just have to take last night and put it behind you and reset and give your team your best effort because you know they're going to give you their best effort every night.' - Tyler Courtney (Rich Forman Photo)

"Tim (Clauson) has been a huge part of my career since I started in sprint cars and midgets," Courtney said. "Tim and I have such a close relationship with our head guy, and my roommate, Rizzy (Tyler Ransbottom). We're one big family here, so it's really special, especially to bring out a throwback car that Rizzy and Tim and everyone got to be a part of. Having a family atmosphere like this makes a transition like switching from a team that you ran with for two years a lot easier. The trust and the confidence level is there because I ran with them in the midgets last year, and I think we proved that tonight.

Indeed, they proved that, and it didn't take very long. As C.J. Leary and Kevin Thomas, Jr. tussled for position up front for the first two circuits, fourth-starting Courtney was precise, motoring to the outside of Thomas in turn two on lap three for second, then splitting between he and Leary to his outside as he dove to the bottom in turn three to snare the lead.

The sense of urgency was palpable in Courtney's mind and he knew he needed to take advantage of the space on the track afforded to him before it was discovered by Leary and/or Thomas.

"I knew I needed to get there," Courtney obliges. "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. Luckily, I was able to get that done in one lap and didn't have to mess around too long. Once you get out front, you can maintain your own pace and run your own race instead of having to chase them and push your stuff. This place is pretty abrasive on tires, so to be able to get out and feel comfortable and manage my stuff, it's a huge advantage compared to those guys."

Seemingly nothing could slow Courtney's pace despite multiple cautions in the first half of the 30-lapper. Courtney simply walked away each time, spurting out to a half-straightaway lead by the eighth lap as he rode the lip up front.

An inadvertent yellow closed up things at the midway point when fifth-running Carson Short made a miraculous save to somehow avoid crunching the tail tank against the outside concrete. Short was repositioned to eighth in the order, the position he was in when the yellow flag was thrown.

That, in turn, erased Courtney's substantial advantage. On the lap 16 restart, an under-the-weather Leary managed to hang with Courtney for the ensuing two laps, but, gradually, Courtney and his CMNR ride proved to be too much for anybody else to handle on this night.

The only flip during the feature event came on lap 19 when Chris Windom and pole sitter Jarett Andretti made wheel-to-wheel contact while battling for the fourth position. Andretti got the worst end of the deal after hopping Windom's right rear and careening hard into the backstretch wall before flipping over. Andretti was uninjured. Windom continued.

On the ensuing restart, Courtney took the tried and true line on the cushion to distance himself from Leary. Nearing the final lap, Courtney's biggest challenge was a bevy of lapped traffic that included Isaac Chapple, Kent Schmidt and Brandon Mattox who ran high, low and middle as they battled for their own positions. Fortunately, for Courtney, he was able to part the sea of machinery and cut through the gridlock without a hindrance to his interval between he and second-place Leary as he raced to a 1.791-second victory over Leary, Thomas, Windom and fast qualifier Kyle Cummins.

As opposed to last year, the start of Courtney's 2018 season has been golden. A title is quite far off in the grand scheme of things, but getting out of the gate in such a positive manner not only provides points toward that goal, but boosts team morale and confidence to the point where running successfully comes second nature.

"Winning races is the reason we race, but there's the big picture at the end and that's a championship," Courtney said without missing a beat. "Not having to play catchup makes life a little easier, but you can't just take three nights like this and think you're good for the rest of the year. You have to finish this trip out strong and keep doing what you're doing. It's 40-plus nights of grueling, intense racing and this is probably the deepest field we've had in many years. It's going to be a fun season!"

Contingency award winners Friday night at Bubba Raceway Park include Kyle Cummins (Indiana Mafia Fast Qualifier), Nick Bilbee (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Robert Ballou (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner, KSE Racing Products/ProSource Hard Charger & Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), Tyler Courtney (Chalk Stix Third Heat Winner), Kent Schmidt (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner), Mike Martin (Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer), Brandon Mattox (ProSource Hard Work Award) and Brady Bacon (Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier).

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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: February 16, 2018 - Ocala, Florida - Bubba Raceway Park - "Winter Dirt Games 9"

QUALIFYING: 1. Kyle Cummins, 3c, EZR/Cummins-14.297; 2. Carson Short, 21, RCM-14.358; 3. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-14.389; 4. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 69, Dynamics-14.410; 5. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-14.500; 6. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-14.538; 7. Logan Seavey, 5B, Briscoe-14.562; 8. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-14.605; 9. Tyler Clem, 14c, Clem/TSR-14.620; 10. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-14.678; 11. Mike Martin, 16, Martin-14.679; 12. Dave Darland, 36D, Goodnight/Curb-Agajanian-14.683; 13. Brady Bacon, 63, Dooling-Hayward/RCR-14.688; 14. Chad Boespflug, 98, NineEight-14.717; 15. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-14.741; 16. Garrett Aitken, 32A, Aitken-14.752; 17. Timmy Buckwalter, 7, LNB-14.768; 18. Mario Clouser, 6, MCM-14.800; 19. Kody Swanson, 3R, Rock Steady-14.806; 20. Kent Schmidt, 5K, Schmidt-14.808; 21. Nick Bilbee, 2E, Epperson-14.840; 22. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-14.904; 23. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-15.076; 24. Slater Helt, 22s, Helt-15.272; 25. Johnny Petrozelle, 59, Petrozelle-15.304; 26. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-15.403; 27. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-15.493; 28. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-15.586; 29. Frank Carlsson, 20, Carlsson-15.810.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Bilbee, 2. Bacon, 3. Cummins, 4. Leary, 5. Buckwalter, 6. Petrozelle, 7. Carlsson, 8. Clem. NT

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Ballou, 2. Boespflug, 3. Windom, 4. Short, 5. Stockon, 6. Clouser, 7. Simon. 1:59.36

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Courtney, 2. Chapple, 3. Swanson, 4. Grant, 5. Seavey, 6. Martin, 7. Mattox. NT

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Schmidt, 2. Darland, 3. Thomas, 4. Andretti, 5. Aitken, 6. Bell, 7. Helt. 2:.05.16

SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer) 1. Seavey, 2. Stockon, 3. Aitken, 4. Clouser, 5. Mattox, 6. Buckwalter, 7. Martin, 8. Bell, 9. Carlsson, 10. Simon, 11. Helt. 3:12.52

FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Tyler Courtney (4), 2. C.J. Leary (2), 3. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (3), 4. Chris Windom (9), 5. Kyle Cummins (6), 6. Dave Darland (10), 7. Carson Short (5), 8. Chad Boespflug (12), 9. Brady Bacon (11), 10. Chase Stockon (7), 11. Justin Grant (13), 12. Mario Clouser (15), 13. Robert Ballou (20), 14. Timmy Buckwalter (14), 15. Nick Bilbee (19), 16. Logan Seavey (8), 17. Kody Swanson (16), 18. Landon Simon (23), 19. Kent Schmidt (17), 20. Isaac Chapple (21), 21. Brandon Mattox (22), 22. Jarett Andretti (1), 23. Garrett Aitken (18). NT
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**Clem flipped during the first heat. Andretti flipped on lap 19 of the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Leary, Laps 3-30 Courtney.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS/PROSOURCE HARD CHARGER: Robert Ballou (20th to 13th)

SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS FIRST NON-TRANSFER: Mike Martin

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Robert Ballou

PROSOURCE HARD WORK AWARD: Brandon Mattox

INDIANA MAFIA FAST QUALIFIER AWARD: Kyle Cummins

ROGER & BARB TAPY 13TH FASTEST QUALIFIER: Brady Bacon

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Thomas-153, 2-Windom-142, 3-Courtney-131, 4-Cummins-128, 5-Stockon-125, 6-Grant-117, 7-Leary-115, 8-Boespflug-113, 9-Ballou-110, 10-Short-108.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACES: Feb. 17 - Ocala, Florida - Bubba Raceway Park - "Winter Dirt Games 9"

Categories : News, Short Track, Sprints, USAC
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Contact: Richie Murray - USAC Media / richie@usacracing.com

STOCKON STRONG IN WINTER DIRT GAMES NIGHT 1 VICTORY

By: Richie Murray – USAC Media

Ocala, Florida………Strong finishes lead to strong beginnings in the case of Chase Stockon.

After finishing last season with two USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National victories in the final four races, the 29-year-old Fort Branch, Indiana racer has seemingly carried the momentum gracefully into the new year, winning the season opener for the series Thursday on night one of “Winter Dirt Games 9” at Bubba Raceway Park.

When the proverbial ball gets rolling downhill, the last thing you’d think you want to do is change it up, but Stockon felt he had to stay ahead of the game rather than play it safe and stand pat. Now what’s old is new and what’s new is working splendidly for Stockon and his 32 TBI Racing/Superior Tank & Trailer – Angle Buildings/DRC/Fisher Chevy.

“A lot is different from last year,” Stockon confided. “We struggled so badly through the middle part of last year, we went through everything. We went through old notes and found something we thought we were missing out on. We went back to our shock setup that we ran five or six years ago and that seemed to work really well for us. It seems like the tires have been changing for us a little bit. We were pretty quick out of the gate when we switched to this tire. Again, we went back to our old notes on those and stuck with it.”

“We ended this thing last year with two wins and, throughout the offseason, we knew we didn’t want to change a dang thing,” Stockon continued. “Joe (Devin) from DRC built us two new cars and they’re just as good as the one we ended last season with. Whenever you get things rolling and you’ve got a car you like, you don’t want to get rid of it, but it was time to start fresh and I think we’ve got good pieces this year.”

At the drop of the green, Stockon raced around the outside of pole sitter Dave Darland to take the early advantage as a mad scramble ensued for the runner-up position between Darland and second row combatants Carson Short and Justin Grant.

Seven cautions disrupted the first half of the 30-lapper and hindered Darland’s approach to the front. Patience was a virtue for Darland who, on multiple occasions in the early going, appeared he had the chops to possibly become the eventual successor to the point from as he relentlessly hounded Stockon, captaining his way to within a whisker of Stockon when the yellow flag flew for a pair of spins of laps eight and 11.

When racing ultimately resumed, Darland’s impressive bid for his first series win since 2016 came to an abrupt conclusion when his car slowed suddenly exiting turn two on lap 13 to bring out the yellow flag. He would not restart.

Just before halfway, the surface of the 3/8-mile D-shaped oval began to change. Stockon quickly took note and adapted to the new terrain.

“The first part of the race, I was running the top in (turns) one and two and kind off diamonding off (turns) three and four,” Stockon recalled. “I felt pretty decent there and I could see Dave (Darland) kept putting his nose underneath me. I kind of knew the bottom was pretty good there, especially with Dave down there. He likes to run the top, so when he was getting good runs on me like that, I kind of knew something was happening.”

A new contender to dethrone Stockon emerged in the early portion of the second half in the form of Justin Grant, winner of last year’s opener in Ocala. Grant ducked underneath Stockon on multiple occasions, but was unable to make the pass stick as the front two separated themselves from the rest of the pack.

With six to go, Kevin Thomas, Jr. emerged at the forefront in his debut in the famed Dynamics, Inc. machine, applying pressure to Stockon for the race lead. The ever-changing track surface required such precision that a single misstep could prove costly for Stockon. You can increase the pressure ten-fold when someone who has been as red-hot as Thomas is closing in on you. Thomas was the winner of a pair of POWRi Midget races less than a week ago at the very same track.

“We kept having so many yellows there at the start of the race, (my crew) was giving me a few pointers on where we needed to maneuver,” Stockon explained. “When we had the long green flag run in the middle part of the race, I felt my exit speed slowing up so much that, on that last restart, I decided to move back up to the top and see if I could keep my momentum built up to stay out front. I kind of noticed there, with probably five or six laps to go, it was taking rubber in the middle through the exit of (turn) four. I kind of found that and, luckily, had enough momentum once KT got to me to get back down to the bottom and get down in the rubber in (turns) one and two. The track conditions changing from slimy/greasy at the beginning to what it ended up being was kind of unique. When you lead the whole race like that, you feel like a sitting duck out there and don’t really know where to go. Luckily, everything went our way tonight.”

“He doesn’t make many mistakes,” Stockon said of Thomas. “He was back there where he could kind of maneuver and knew where the track was changing at and where to be. When it took rubber and I finally moved down there, you didn’t really want to cheat it too much and be in the slick and have a guy drive around on the top or bottom. I tried to pay attention to where the sheen was on the racetrack and put the right rear where it needed to be.”

Thomas threw the kitchen sink at Stockon, but coming to the white flag, drifted slightly high on the entry into turn one and, on the final lap, lost momentum in turn two as Stockon battened the hatches to tie board up the number one spot and take his first “Winter Dirt Games” victory in 20 tries, winning by a half-second over Thomas, Chris Windom, Grant and Robert Ballou.

“Winter Dirt Games” has been a strong suit for Stockon over the years with 11 top-five finishes in 20 starts. In fact, his 8.05 average finishing position was the best of any active driver without a “Winter Dirt Games” win coming into Thursday’s event.

“I’m just a late bloomer I guess,” Stockon said with a laugh. “We’ve always been pretty strong down here. I don’t really know why. I like this racetrack. It’s different. I wouldn’t say we do anything completely out of the norm down here. I don’t know if it just suits my style, diamonding off and exiting straight. But I really like this place and, before I came down here, I told my wife that we’ve won at least one race in almost every state that we run regularly in non-wing sprint cars. Florida was one of those states we’d yet to do it, so I know she’s definitely happy back home right now.”

Contingency award winners Thursday night at Bubba Raceway Park include Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Indiana Mafia Fast Qualifier), Tyler Courtney (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Chad Boespflug (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), C.J. Leary (Chalk Stix Third Heat Winner), Carson Short (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner), Chad Boespflug (KSE Racing Products/ProSource Hard Charger), Brandon Mattox (Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer), Brady Bacon (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), Jarett Andretti (ProSource Hard Work Award) and Logan Seavey (Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier).

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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: February 15, 2018 – Ocala, Florida – Bubba Raceway Park – “Winter Dirt Games 9”

QUALIFYING: 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 69, Dynamics-13.750; 2. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-13.915; 3. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-13.981; 4. Carson Short, 21, RCM-14.007; 5. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-14.077; 6. Nick Bilbee, 2E, Epperson-14.145; 7. Dave Darland, 36D, Goodnight/Curb-Agajanian-14.174; 8. Brady Bacon, 63, Dooling-Hayward/RCR-14.286; 9. Garrett Aitken, 32A, Aitken-14.341; 10. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-14.386; 11. Kyle Cummins, 3c, EZR/Cummins-14.395; 12. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-14.406; 13. Logan Seavey, 5B, Briscoe-14.407; 14. Tyler Clem, 14c, Clem/TSR-14.411; 15. Kody Swanson, 3R, Rock Steady-14.411; 16. Kent Schmidt, 5K, Schmidt-14.431; 17. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson Marshall Newman-14.436; 18. Chad Boespflug, 98, NineEight-14.443; 19. Timmy Buckwalter, 7, LNB-14.452; 20. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-14.500; 21. Mario Clouser, 6, MCM-14.591; 22. Coleman Gulick, 14, Scorpion-14.669; 23. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-14.699; 24. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-14.731; 25. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-14.804; 26. Mike Martin, 16, Martin-14.980; 27. Johnny Petrozelle, 59, Petrozelle-15.055; 28. Slater Helt, 22s, Helt-15.151; 29. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-15.535; 30. Frank Carlsson, 20, Carlsson-16.129; 31. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-NT

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Courtney, 2. Thomas, 3. Stockon, 4. Seavey, 5. Aitken, 6. Mattox, 7. Bell, 8. Clouser. NT

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Boespflug, 2. Ballou, 3. Windom, 4. Clem, 5. Bilbee, 6. Gulick, 7. Martin, 8. Carlsson. 2:01.46

CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Leary, 2. Swanson, 3. Grant, 4. Darland, 5. Cummins, 6. Buckwalter, 7. Petrozelle. 2:02.91

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer) 1. Short, 2. Simon, 3. Bacon, 4. Chapple, 5. Schmidt, 6. Goodnight, 7. Helt. 2:05.09

SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer) 1. Bilbee, 2. Cummins, 3. Aitken, 4. Andretti, 5. Buckwalter, 6. Schmidt, 7. Mattox, 8. Martin, 9. Goodnight, 10. Petrozelle, 11. Bell, 12. Gulick, 13. Carlsson. 3:08.79

FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Chase Stockon (2), 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (6), 3. Chris Windom (5), 4. Justin Grant (4), 5. Robert Ballou (10), 6. Kyle Cummins (11), 7. Isaac Chapple (12), 8. Chad Boespflug (18), 9. Logan Seavey (13), 10. Nick Bilbee (7), 11. Tyler Courtney (17), 12. Kody Swanson (15), 13. Brady Bacon (8), 14. Carson Short (3), 15. C.J. Leary (20), 16. Tyler Clem (14), 17. Jarett Andretti (21), 18. Landon Simon (19), 19. Garrett Aitken (9), 20. Dave Darland (1), 21. Kent Schmidt (16), 22. Timmy Buckwalter (22). NT

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**Clouser flipped during the first heat.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Stockon.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS/PROSOURCE HARD CHARGER: Chad Boespflug (18th to 8th)

SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS FIRST NON-TRANSFER: Brandon Mattox

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Brady Bacon

PROSOURCE HARD WORK AWARD: Jarett Andretti

INDIANA MAFIA FAST QUALIFIER AWARD: Kevin Thomas, Jr.

ROGER & BARB TAPY 13TH FASTEST QUALIFIER: Logan Seavey

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Thomas-80, 2-Stockon-78, 3-Windom-75, 4-Grant-71, 5-Ballou-65, 6-Cummins-58, 7-Chapple-57, 8-Boespflug-57, 9-Seavey-51, 10-Courtney-49.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACES: Feb. 16-17 – Ocala, Florida – Bubba Raceway Park – “Winter Dirt Games 9”

Categories : News, Short Track, Sprints, USAC
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