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SUNSHINE ON A CLOUDY DAY: Tyler Courtney Constructs Masterful Port Royal Drive for First World of Outlaws in Two Years

Tyler Courtney Celebrates with a wing dance
“Sunshine” becomes second Hoosier to tame Port Royal with The Greatest Show on Dirt

On a night that rain clouds were threatening to wash out the race, Sunshine broke through. But it wasn’t the literal sun gleaming on Port Royal Speedway Friday at the Nittany Showdown. It was the driver who goes by the bright nickname – Tyler Courtney.

The native of Indianapolis, IN started fourth in the 25-lap Feature, drove the Clauson Marshall Racing (CMR) #7BC to the lead in 12 laps, and pulled away on the path to his first World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car victory in more than two years. Back in July of 2021, Courtney claimed his first win with The Greatest Show on Dirt in grand fashion by topping the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway. “Sunshine” had to wait 811 days, but that second triumph finally arrived at “The Speed Palace.”

In Victory Lane, Courtney erupted with emotion. His celebratory shouts filled the air as he climbed atop the CMR machine and sprayed a can of NOS Energy Drink. At long last, Courtney again found himself a World of Outlaws winner.

“When it takes you two years to win another Outlaw race, that just shows how tough it is to win an Outlaw race and how special it is to win these races,” Courtney said. “Jake (Argo), Luke (Vaughn), Camron (Burley), they bust their tails. We’ve obviously had an up and down year, but to close out the year I feel like we’ve been pretty consistent here to end the year. We ran up front with the Outlaws at Williams Grove and Port Royal now. This is just awesome, man.”

The night made Courtney the 15th different driver to win a World of Outlaws main event at Port Royal and only the second from the state of Indiana, the other being Spencer Bayston (2021). The 29-year-old also became the 18th competitor to top a race with the Series in 2023.

A fourth place effort in the Toyota Racing Dash slotted Courtney outside the second row in the lineup for the Feature. Right when the green flag dropped, Courtney made it known that he was hungry for a win. The NOS Energy Drink #7BC rocketed from fourth to the runner-up spot on the opening circuit by driving right between Carson Macedo and Logan Schuchart.

After taking over second, the pursuit began as Courtney locked his sights on the race’s pole sitter and early leader – James McFadden. As they navigated the opening portion of the race, McFadden managed to put a little distance between himself and Courtney. The Roth Motorsports pilot grew his advantage up to as much as a second and a half.

But when lapped traffic came into view, Courtney began to erase the margin. A 1.6 second lead on Lap 6 was slashed nearly in half on the next circuit. Two more laps later, and the gap between the two dipped under half a second. Then on the 12th lap, Courtney made his move.

Tyler Courtney chases after James McFadden at Port Royal Speedway
Tyler Courtney (#7BC) hunted down James McFadden (#83) at Port Royal for his second career World of Outlaws win (Trent Gower Photo)

Heading into Turn 1, Courtney threw a slide job at McFadden and cleared him. The Australian rallied on the exit of Turn 2 with a crossover to slip under Courtney and reclaim the top spot. In the next set of corners, McFadden went to the cushion while Courtney went to the bottom. The low side proved to the right choice as Courtney rolled by McFadden and cleared him down the front straightaway.

“We did everything that we wanted to do there for the Feature,” Courtney explained. “I was able to get my wing back there just about halfway and kept inching her back as we went. Man, the more I got it back the better we were.”

After taking the lead, Courtney quickly began to build a gap. Two laps after moving ahead of McFadden, Courtney’s advantage ballooned over a second as he began to slice through traffic.

A potential challenger to Courtney arose in the form of a fast-charging David Gravel. The Big Game Motorsports pilot moved around McFadden for second on Lap 17. While Gravel was over two seconds behind Courtney when he took the runner-up spot, thick traffic ahead of him gave Gravel hope.

But it was hope that was quickly extinguished when Courtney put a pair of lapped cars between himself and Gravel. And once he did so, the margin began to grow quickly. On Lap 22, Courtney crossed the line four seconds in front of Gravel. And then a few laps later, Courtney took the checkered flag comfortably for his second career World of Outlaws win.

“It’s just unbelievable man,” Courtney said. “Winning Outlaw races is really, really hard, and this one feels good.

Coming home second was David Gravel for his Series-leading 31st World of Outlaws podium of the year. The Watertown, CT native is staying hot with his fourth runner-up in the last seven races as he looks to chip away at Brad Sweet’s point lead. Gravel chopped the gap down to 82 markers.

“Cody (Jacobs) kept working on this thing and gave us a really good race car there in the A-Main,” Gravel said. “It felt like in the beginning to the middle of the race we were really, really good, and I felt like probably one of the best cars. And I felt like at the end we just kind of ran out of grip, and Sunshine was running a really good pace, and I never really good close to him.”

Rounding out the top three was early leader – James McFadden. The result made the Roth Motorsports driver the eighth to reach double digit World of Outlaws podiums in 2023 as he notched his 10th.

“I didn’t know where to run there for the first bit,” McFadden said. “Normally at Port Royal, you pound the top of (Turns) 1 and 2 and float around (Turns) 3 and 4. I felt okay doing that, and then Tyler went by us like we were standing still, so he whooped our butts tonight. But that’s about as good as I’ve ever felt at Port Royal. Happy to be competitive, just need to be a little better”

Logan Schuchart and Lance Dewease completed the top five.

A 22nd to 14th drive netted the KSE Racing Hard Charger for Rico Abreu.

In Low-E Insulation Qualifying, Brad Sweet earned his third Simpson Performance Products QuickTime and the 72nd of his career.

CASE No.1 Engine Oil Heat One went to Brad Sweet. NOS Energy Drink Heats Two through Four were topped by David Gravel, Tyler Courtney, and Logan Schuchart.

James McFadden won the Toyota Racing Dash.

Giovanni Scelzi topped the Micro-Lite Last Chance Showdown.

The Smith Titanium Brake Systems Break of the Race went to Sye Lynch after slipping from fifth to 11th, narrowly missing his second career World of Outlaws top 10.

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars conclude the Nittany Showdown at Port Royal Speedway with a $15,000 to win finale on Saturday, October 7. For tickets, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, catch all of the action live on DIRTVision.

RESULTS:

NOS Energy Drink Feature (25 Laps): 1. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[4]; 2. 2-David Gravel[7]; 3. 83-James McFadden[1]; 4. 1S-Logan Schuchart[2]; 5. 39M-Lance Dewease[11]; 6. 49-Brad Sweet[6]; 7. 9P-Parker Price Miller[8]; 8. 41-Carson Macedo[3]; 9. 13-Justin Peck[9]; 10. 11-Cory Eliason[10]; 11. 42-Sye Lynch[5]; 12. 48-Danny Dietrich[18]; 13. 23-Devon Borden[12]; 14. 24-Rico Abreu[22]; 15. 5-Spencer Bayston[15]; 16. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[21]; 17. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild[17]; 18. 26-Zeb Wise[16]; 19. 19-Brent Marks[20]; 20. 83JR-Michael Kofoid[13]; 21. 45-Jeff Halligan[23]; 22. 20G-Noah Gass[27]; 23. 15-Donny Schatz[25]; 24. 11T-TJ Stutts[24]; 25. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss[19]; 26. 9-Kasey Kahne[14]; 27. 47K-Kody Lehman[26]

Alex Nieten

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