T.J.’s Takeaways from the 38th 4-Crown Nationals

By T.J. Buffenbarger

1. For all the discussion about midget cars not running half miles they sure do put on a great show when they do. The USAC National Midget Series once again stole the show in another hold your breath 25-lap affair at Eldora Speedway.

The 2019 edition of the 4-Crown Nationals showcased how the style of racing in the midget division has changed with breathtaking slide jobs on each end of the racetrack for the lead throughout the later portion of the race. While a lot of people give modern midget racing a hard time for the lack of clean racing (at times deservedly so) I felt the drivers respected the track and each other for the most part during the wild exchange of sliders during the tremendous race for the lead.

With races like the Hut 100 and Belleville Nationals going by the wayside here is hoping the midget portion of the 4-Crown Nationals continues and we get to see more awesome races like the one we witnessed on Saturday.

2. Tyler Courtney has become the dominant force in USAC racing at the Eldora Speedway. After his dominating performance during the makeup race in July as part of Kings Royal, winning both the midget and sprint car portions of the 4-Crown Nationals, and becoming the first driver in history to win four consecutive non-wing sprint car races at Eldora.

If you factor in that USAC Sprint Cars only compete at Eldora three times per season now compared to the four to five appearances, they used to make 10-15 years ago that record is even more remarkable considering how few chances there are to set such a mark.

Courtney has reached a level of comfort at Eldora as a driver and Clauson-Marshall-Newman racing has the sprint car setup locked down for the Big E. Unless something drastic changes over the off season I could see Courtney extending that streak to five or six wins in a row.

3. In October of 2016 Aaron Reutzel came to the “Sprintacular” at Eldora Speedway and dominated the National Racing Alliance 360 sprint car portion of the event. At the time Reutzel was following the ASCS National Tour and scattering in various 410 sprint car starts. After that dominating performance I felt it was clear Reutzel was ready to take the next step in his career. Shortly after he partnered with Josh Baughman and eventually worked towards the All Star Circuit of Champions tour and now has two championships.

After winning the 4-Crown Nationals main event and securing a second point title with the All Star Circuit of Champions I have the same sentiment that Reutzel is ready to take the next step. That step could be a full run at the World of Outlaws tour or maybe more of an Outlaw type schedule running portions of the tour to ready the team for a full run with the Outlaws later down the road. Either way Reutzel has proven himself to be a threat to win with any series and that its time for that team to seriously consider a full World of Outlaws effort if the funding and support is present to do so.

4. On the other side of the coin the 2019 4-Crown Nationals is going to be one Kevin Thomas will want to forget. Thomas seemingly had both the sprint car and silver crown races in the bag before wall contact off the fourth corner derailed both efforts.

Thomas was better in traffic that eventual winner Tyler Courtney in the sprint car feature and seemed to have everything under control until the front end of his car got sucked into the wall and eventually bouncing the right rear off the fence as well. The save Thomas made after the wall contact, still maintaining the lead was remarkable.

During the later stages of the Silver Crown feature I was looking at another race on track when Thomas caught the wall in Chris Dyson owned car and allowed Brady Bacon to drive past to the lead and the eventual victory.

This one will sting for a while, but hopefully Thomas can take solace in his improvement running the fence at Eldora and that speed will carry over to the end of the 2019 season for the USAC sprint cars.

5. If you factor in the number of cars, races, and trying to knock down the fence three different times in turn three I thought officials from Eldora Speedway, the All Star Circuit of Champions, and USAC did a great job to keep the program moving along. With that sheer number of races that had to be run there was very little downtime and if it had not been for the above-mentioned incidents this edition of the 4-Crown would have ended well before midnight.