KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Tyler Courtney grabbed an early lead and went on to win his second career feature at the Knoxville Raceway on Friday night’s Brandt Professional Agriculture Corn Belt Nationals opener.
The Indianapolis native nabbed $5,000 for his victory aboard the Clauson-Marshall-Newman No. 7bc. He also emerged as the top point getter (points below) heading into Saturday’s finale, that will include another full program.
Austin McCarl was dominant in winning his first 360 feature in support action.
POWRi/WAR regulars Wyatt Burks and Riley Kreisel started on the front row of the 25-lap main event. Courtney, who started third, shot around the front row to lead lap one and began pulling away ahead of Burks and Kreisel.
Kreisel worked his way to second and the lead pair left the rest behind in the early stages before Dennis Gile, who had climbed from 24th to 15th, slowed and brought a caution out on lap seven. Defending Corn Belt Nationals champion, Brady Bacon, shot into third, and USAC National Sprint Car point leader, Justin Grant moved into the top five.
On lap nine, Bacon disposed of Kreisel for the runner-up spot, as Grant moved into fourth. Grant would nab third from Kreisel on lap 13, and the leaders entered lapped traffic three circuits later.
A final caution flew for Don Droud Jr. with four to go. Though Bacon closed on Courtney, he couldn’t make a pass for the point. Courtney would lead Bacon, Grant, Chris Windom and CJ Leary to the finish line. Ryan Bernal, Carson Short, Jake Swanson, hard-charger Logan Seavey and Wesley Smith rounded out the top 10.
“Tim (Clauson) and the guys really gave me a great race car tonight,” said Courtney in Victory Lane. “I love Knoxville Raceway, in a winged car or a non-winged car. If we could run a midget or Silver Crown car here, it would be sweet. When you think about the drivers who have put their name on the list here, is really cool. We came up a little bit short last year, and we put ourselves in a good spot for tomorrow. Hopefully, we can get through qualifying and the qualifier tomorrow and put ourselves in the first couple rows for the feature. This place has a big place in our hearts at Clauson-Marshall Racing. It’s been a tough couple months with the midget and the wing car, but to get a win here our second night out in a non-wing car is good for all of us.”
“We needed a little more racetrack,” said Bacon. “I felt we were the same speed on that one long run once I got to second. I just had to work so hard to get there. The bottom just wasn’t there for us. Sometimes, even the middle will be there, and it just wasn’t there. That happens sometimes. Tyler didn’t make any mistakes. It was a good run. We’ll keep going and try to win it tomorrow. Thanks to Knoxville for having this event with everything going on.”
Grant finished third.
“This car has been awesome all year,” said Grant. “We’re on the podium again. It was really good. Early on, we were OK, and we had a section in the middle where we were really good. At the end, we just got tight at the curb and couldn’t attack like we needed to. I tried firing a couple things at Brady, but we just didn’t have what we needed to make it stick. Tyler did a great job. This place is fast. It was another good night, and it should be good points for tomorrow.”
To see full results, turn to the next page.