Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Talented Crop to Double Up at Western World

#7BC Tyler Courtney won both the sprint and midget portions of September's 4-Crown Nationals at Eldora, the second time he's done that in his career. (Dallas Breeze Photo)

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

San Tan Valley, Arizona (November 12, 2019).........This weekend's 52nd Western World Championships presented by San Tan Ford at Arizona Speedway presents a unique opportunity. An opportunity to showcase versatility in both a Sprint Car and a Midget on the same track on the same evening for two consecutive nights.

It's a rare breed who've been able to tame both beasts on the same night by winning both a USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car feature and a USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget A-Main event in the same show.

Each of the past two instances in which the double-dip sweep occurred, it was Tyler Courtney getting the job done, with both coming at Eldora's 4-Crown Nationals in September 2018 and again in September 2019.

Back in May of this year, Courtney was fast qualifier in both divisions and scored the Midget feature win while Chris Windom captured the Sprint Car leg of the night. Neither had the same fortune in the other feature that night; Courtney was 14th in the Sprint Car and Windom 12th in the Midget.

Both those two, as well as handful of others, are highly capable of doubling-up and winning both in one night, in addition to the likes of Kevin Thomas, Jr., Brady Bacon, Jason McDougal, Thomas Meseraull and Logan Seavey this weekend.

The sweep has been accomplished 24 times to date in USAC National Sprint and National Midget doubleheaders and this crop of talent is certainly up to challenge to become the next. The first such USAC National Midget/National Sprint doubleheader came 43 years ago, in 1976, on the high banks of Eldora Speedway. Dana Carter took the Midget end of the deal while Clark Templeman scored the Sprint Car feature.

While no such USAC National Midget/Sprint sweeps occurred that particular night, there have certainly been their fair share of them over the years, including just a month and a half ago Eldora by Courtney. It wasn't exactly a clean sweep of all USAC events with Courtney not winning the Silver Crown portion and securing a three-tier sweep with the Silver Crown car included, which has only been done twice.

Kyle Larson not only got the Midget and Sprint glory that particular evening in 2011, he also capped off the night with a Silver Crown victory, same as Jack Hewitt did in 1998 at the same event, the only two times in which all three have been "swept" in the same night.

As far as USAC National/Sprint Midget sweeps go, the first one wasn't so much a sweep, but is recognized as one of the greatest feats in USAC history, at Indiana's Salem Speedway in 1977. Double features for both the Midgets and Sprint Cars were on tap that Memorial Day afternoon. Pancho Carter nailed down wins in both midget features, won the first Sprint Car feature, and came up just short in the second Sprint A-Main, finishing second to Tom Bigelow.

Ron Shuman did the deed a year later in 1978 at Reading, Pa., an Independence Day event which was televised on NBC. Just two sweeps occurred in the decade of the 1980s with Ken Schrader doubling up at Beaver Dam, Wisc. in 1982 and Rich Vogler getting a two-fer in 1986 at Eldora.

Jeff Gordon's shooting star was at peak levels in 1990 when he took both on the high banks of Salem in June, then finished up the year with another sweep at the similarly shaped and banked Winchester Speedway in November on his way to superstardom.

National Sprint Car Hall of Famers Hewitt and Dave Steele lead all drivers with three occasions in which they won both a USAC National Midget and National Sprint event at the same locale on the same day. Hewitt got his first right at Tri-City, host of this Friday's race, in 1991, then did it again in 1997 at Terre Haute, inheriting the Midget win following original winner Kevin Thomas' car failing post-race technical inspection. Hewitt's third and final came in the never-to-be-forgotten 4-Crown in 1998.

While Hewitt garnered all three on the dirt, Steele collected all of his three on the pavement, all within a calendar year, first at the one-mile track Nazareth, Pa. in 2003, again on a mile at Pikes Peak International Raceway in 2004, and for the last time, just one month later, at Salem.

USAC Triple Crown champ, and Indy Racing League/NASCAR Cup Series titlist Tony Stewart took two at Eldora in 1995, as did future NHRA star Doug Kalitta in the season-ender at Winchester that same year. Dave Darland cashed in for two at Eldora in 1999.

Jay Drake got the first sweep of the new millennium, in 2001, during the Buckeye Nationals at Eldora, shown on ESPN2. J.J. Yeley added a pair of sweeps to his name within a month in 2002 on the pavement of Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, then again on the dirt at Fremont, Ohio, where he flipped his Sprint Car in turn four while celebrating his big night.

Jerry Coons, Jr. landed both wins at Missouri's Lake Ozark Speedway in 2006. Bryan Clauson became the youngest to sweep, shortly after turning 17 years old, at Salem in 2006. Larson, meanwhile, became the latest to get three in one night along with Silver Crown, in 2011 at Eldora.

Both nights, pits open at 2pm Mountain, grandstands at 3pm, drivers meeting at 4:30pm, and cars on track at 5:30pm. Adult tickets are $30-$35, seniors are $30-$35, kids 11 and under are $15, adult pit passes are $40, kids 7-12 pit passes are $20, kids 6 and under pit passes are $10.

A practice night begins the festivities on Thursday, November 14. Adult pit passes are $30, kids 7-12 pit passes are $10 and kids 6 and under pit passes are free.

If you are unable to make it to the track, all the action can be watched live on FloRacing, listened to live on the USAC app with live timing and scoring available on both the USAC and Race-Monitor apps.

5/30/1977: Salem Speedway - Pancho Carter
7/4/1978: Reading Fairgrounds - Ron Shuman
7/31/1982: Beaver Dam Raceway - Ken Schrader
9/28/1986: Eldora Speedway - Rich Vogler
6/17/1990: Salem Speedway - Jeff Gordon
11/4/1990: Winchester Speedway - Jeff Gordon
8/31/1991: Tri-City Speedway - Jack Hewitt
9/23/1995: Eldora Speedway - Tony Stewart
10/22/1995: Winchester Speedway - Doug Kalitta
10/4/1997: Terre Haute Action Track - Jack Hewitt
9/26/1998: Eldora Speedway - Jack Hewitt
9/25/1999: Eldora Speedway - Dave Darland
6/22/2001: Eldora Speedway - Jay Drake
5/3/2002: Hawkeye Downs Speedway - J.J. Yeley
6/20/2002: Fremont Speedway - J.J. Yeley
8/23/2003: Nazareth Speedway - Dave Steele
7/4/2004: Pikes Peak International Raceway - Dave Steele
8/14/2004: Salem Speedway - Dave Steele
6/9/2006: Lake Ozark Speedway - Jerry Coons Jr.
8/12/2006: Salem Speedway - Bryan Clauson
9/23/2006: Eldora Speedway - Tracy Hines
9/24/2011: Eldora Speedway - Kyle Larson
9/21/2018: Eldora Speedway - Tyler Courtney
9/28/2019: Eldora Speedway - Tyler Courtney