Tyler Courtney Shines In 2017 Chili Bowl Opener
November 7th, 2016 by Wade Huisman
TULSA, Okla. (January 10, 2017) Indiana’s Tyler Courtney spent his morning unveiling the new #Driven2SaveLives program in honor of Bryan Clauson, and spent his evening driving like him as the pilot of the Clauson-Marshall Racing No. 7BC raced to his first preliminary A-Feature win in Chili Bowl competition, and in doing so, locks into his first Chili Bowl Championship feature event.
While the win was a very emotional one for the entire Clauson-Marshall racing team, Tyler explained the win simply when asked to put it into words, “Two words. Parked It.”
“Honestly, I think I’m still in shock. I don’t think it’s really hit me yet. This is really cool with a new team, on the so called dream team that Bryan wanted to put together,” said Courtney. “Bryan [Clauson] was the guy that gave me the opportunity seven years ago. He’s a big part of my career and plus, I got to win my first USAC National sprint Car race over him this summer during Sprint Week. That’s something that I’ll always have with me.”
Chili Bowl Preliminary Night Winner No. 41, Courtney, who earned the pole in Tuesday’s Warren CAT Qualifying Night A-Feature, battled the opening laps with Oklahoma’s Matt Sherrell before having to also contend with the Keith Kunz Motorsports No. 71K of Kyle Larson.
Locked in a tight three way battle for the first six rotations around the Tulsa Expo Raceway, Courtney began putting distance of now second running, Larson. Keeping the No. 71K at length as the back of the field came into view, that distance was starting to dwindle as Larson worked the cushion at both ends of the Raceway.
Bumper-to-bumper with 13 to go thanks to a caution for Tony Bruce, Jr., Larson set up for the slide job. Denied the point, the Parker Stores entry quickly regained momentum. Low in one and two, high in three and four with 12 to go, the lead was Larson’s but the caution would again blink on before the lap could be completed.
Slowed again with 10 laps to run, the restart took two attempts as drivers leveled the cone, sending two drivers to the tail.
Returning with a barrage of Slide Jobs, Larson and Courtney used up every inch of the track. Working to the final eight laps, it was Larson off the fourth turn. Running hard to the cushion, the door was open for Courtney to retake the point off the second turn. Following the No. 7BC in on the turn three cushion, Larson skipped four tires into the fluff. Trying to correct the mistake, Larson mashed the throttle, only to jettison the No. 71K skyward. A hard landing and a hit to follow as Matt Westfall had nowhere to run. Despite the crash, both drivers returned to competition.
From there, Tyler Courtney would run away to a 2.775 second advantage over New York’s Larry Wight, who advanced from seventh to the silver podium step.
“It’s pretty amazing for us to be able to come down here,” explained the native New Yorker. “Shawn Michael, Mike Heffner, just the whole crew did an awesome job. We brought a brand new Chili Bowl car and it definitely paid off for us.”
Charging hard the final eight laps, Illinois’ Zach Daum advanced from 10th to the final transfer to secure his sixth Chili Bowl A-Feature.
Asked about the pressure of the Chili Bowl, Daum replied, “I put more pressure on myself than anybody. I try to stay relaxed as much as I can. We spend a lot of money to come to this one race every year and you want to run good. That’s the main goal here. To make the show for one, and put yourself in position to go after a Driller. This is our Daytona. It’s our Indianapolis; this is the Mecca of a Midget races so there’s always a little bit of pressure, but you kind of try to rise to the pressure.”
A preliminary night winner one year ago, Pennsylvania’s Alex Bright came up just shy of the transfer with a run from 12th to fourth. Jonathan Beason rounded out the top-five after starting ninth.
Chase Briscoe crossed sixth with England’s Tom Harris advancing from 22nd to second in the Beast No. 4h. Steven Shebester, Matt Sherrell, and Joey Saldana from 17th made up the top-ten.
For the ninth running of the Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions, Kyle Larson led non-stop to pick up the night’s $6,363.63 check. Normally a $2,500 to win event, Kim and Greg Stewart along with Doug and Mary Harris brought the amount up to honor the late Bryan Clauson. Already a VIROC winner, this win was especially emotional for Larson as he and Clauson were close friends. Following the interview, it was announced by Kim Stewart that the race is going to pay $6,363.63 to win from now on.
Tuesday’s opening of the 31st annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals saw 90 drivers drawing in for competition. Of those 90, six made the Fastenal Flip Count. All drivers were able to walk away.
The 31st annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire continues on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 and is presented by Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Tulsa