GAS CITY, Ind. – Wednesday’s Indiana Midget Week stop at Gas City I-69 Speedway was a disaster that turned into a rebound wrapped up in an enigma for Clauson-Marshall Racing.
For one of the power teams of the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series, nothing wanted to go right at the quarter-mile, black dirt oval, despite the fact they left the track with three top-10 finishes.
Things went sour for series point leader Tyler Courtney right from the get-go, after a mechanical issue in qualifying relegated the driver nicknamed ‘Sunshine’ to Windom’s backup car for the rest of the night.
Once he switched steeds, however, Courtney was off to the races. He won his heat race and charged from 15th to sixth in the 30-lap main event, garnering KSE/Prosource Hard Charger honors as a result.
It allowed Courtney to extend his championship lead, despite a trying run for the Indianapolis native.
“This was just a long day; you know what I mean?” Courtney quipped afterward. “I don’t see the moon from where I’m standing, but it’s probably full, or if it’s not then it should be. My guys never gave up, though, and it’s pretty hard to give up on them when they don’t give up and don’t stop working.
“That’s how you win championships; you have to make the most out of crappy nights, and tonight probably couldn’t have been any crappier in the first half than what it was,” he added. “To come home sixth is a win, I think, in our book. You want to win every race, but to go from 15th to sixth is solid in the big picture and in terms of the midget week points.”
If Courtney’s night was rough, then teammate Chris Windom’s go of things at Gas City was an unmitigated disaster – as he was forced to go through three different maladies in one night.
Windom lost the motor in his primary car during his heat race and was relegated to a backup power plant for the B-main, then suffered even more hardship during the B-main when more engine issues forced him to take a provisional just to start the 30-lap feature.
With one car out of commission and his backup car in Courtney’s hands, Windom and company had to get creative – going to Courtney’s repaired primary car in order to utilize their provisional grid spot.
After that, things finally smoothed over for Windom, who came from last on the 23-car grid to finish ninth, salvaging a solid points day after a continuation of his month-long streak of bad luck.
Windom’s rough seas at Gas City followed on from hard crashes at the Hoosier Hundred, Indy Lights Freedom 100 and Carb Night Classic during the Month of May, though this time he got a decent result.
“I think I set the record for most equipment used in one night,” Windom joked afterward. “We went out, ran OK in hot laps, but in qualifying something seemed off. The first engine finally went away in the heat race, and we had to change engines for the B just to get out last second. When we killed another engine there in the B, going to Courtney’s primary car was about the last option we had at that point.
“Somehow, after all that, we went all the way from the tail to a top 10,” he continued. “That’s just a testament to these CMR guys and how much time and effort they put into these cars. It’s why they do win championships and why I’m glad to be associated with them.”
After falling from 18th on the grid to 23rd at the start, 16-year-old Zeb Wise notched a 10th-place finish in the No. 39bc for CMR, while fellow teenager and series rookie Andrew Layser hopped the cushion midway through the main event and ended up 13th in the rundown after starting 22nd at the green flag.
Though each of the four CMR drivers had their issues to overcome over the night, no driver in the stable has endured more bad luck than Windom has lately – a trend he sorely hopes will reverse itself soon.
“I thought this stuff was finally over after last weekend, but luckily, this time it was just engine failures as opposed to some of the hard hits we took a couple races ago,” noted Windom. “No one wants that, but these guys will get it all patched up and hopefully get us back to winning races pretty quick.”
Courtney summed up the night for the team as a whole in one word and a shake of his head.
“Bizarre,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had one go quite like this before, but we’ll come back.”