From Richie Murray
SAN TAN VALLEY, AZ (November 11, 2019) – The 2019 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car title comes down to this: two events in two nights at Arizona Speedway where C.J. Leary and Tyler Courtney are engaged in a battle separated by a mere 44 points entering this Friday and Saturday, November 15th and 16th’s 52nd annual Western World Championships presented by San Tan Ford.
C.J. Leary enters the ring this weekend with the advantage after capturing the victory in last Saturday’s Oval Nationals at California’s Perris Auto Speedway following a 29-race winless streak. The Greenfield, Ind. driver has been the mark of consistency throughout 2019 with 30 top-ten finishes in 32 starts. In 2018, Leary was 6th on his prelim night and 3rd on the final night of Western World, the type of consistency it very well may require in order to lock up his first USAC title.
Tyler Courtney resides in the shadow of Leary in the points race. The reigning series champ from Indianapolis, Ind. comes in as the defending Western World Sprint Car winner where he led the final 13 laps en route to victory. He also finished as the runner-up in the prelude to the final the night before in 2018 behind Justin Grant. He has four-straight top-five runs at the Western World in a sprint car with a pair of 5th place finishes in 2017.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) won last year’s prelim feature event in a decisive battle with Courtney in which the pair swapped the lead twice, and for the last time with five laps remaining. Grant led a total of 22 laps that night for his lone top-five USAC National Sprint Car run at Arizona Speedway during Western World. Grant won his first Western World feature in 360 competition on a prelim night in Tucson in 2015.
Brady Bacon dominated the first two rounds of the Oval Nationals last weekend at Perris, leading all 60 laps between the two nights. The Broken Arrow, Okla. native is a four-time Western World Sprint Car winner. He captured the non-wing sprint car portion of the event in 2009 and 2010 at Manzanita, then scored a pair of 360 Sprint wins in both 2016 and 2018 at Arizona, plus a prelim night in 2015 with the USAC Sprints at USA Raceway in Tucson, Ariz.
Kevin Thomas, Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) was the fastest qualifier for the final night of the 2017 Western World USAC National Sprint car event. One year ago, he took 5th on his prelim night for his best career result at the track, then followed up with an 8th place result in his most recent appearance on the final night.
Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) nearly swept all of Western World in 2016 after collecting both nights in the 410, a prelim win in the 360 and a 3rd on the final night. The 2017 USAC National Sprint Car champ also won the 360 Sprint final of Western World in 2017. He led the first four of last year’s USAC National Sprint Car race at Arizona before finishing 4th.
Ironman Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) enters Western World with 292 consecutive USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car starts. He possesses two career USAC Sprint wins in the state of Arizona, including a Hall of Fame Classic win at Canyon in 2013 and the biggie, the Western World Crown in 2017 where he controlled the final 18 laps on the road to victory.
Leary’s Reinbold/Underwood Motorsports team is not a stranger to victory lane at Arizona Speedway. The team collected its first USAC National Sprint Car feature victory on the prelim night of 2017 with driver Thomas Meseraull, who also earned fast time on the opening night of Western World in 2018. Meseraull has had several high-quality runs at Arizona with 3rd in the 2016 prelim and a runner-up finish on the final night of 2017.
Reinbold/Underwood Motorsports also scored a USAC Southwest Sprint Car victory earlier this April with Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.), the 2018 USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget champ. Seavey also finished 10th and 5th in his Western World debut for the team in 2018.
Seven-time USAC/CRA Sprint Car champion Damion Gardner is on the verge of an 8th crown in 2019 with a 59-point lead in the standings. The Concord, Californian won the second of three nights at Western World in 2005 when it was held at Manzanita. In recent years at the 3/8-mile Arizona Speedway, Gardner earned two 2nd place results in two successive nights at the 2016 Western World and was 3rd on the opening night last year along with fast qualifier honors on the first night of 2017.
Tijeras, New Mexico’s Josh Hodges collected a prelim victory in the Western World 360 Sprint feature in 2015. One night later, current USAC Sands Chevrolet Southwest Sprint point leader Brody Roa (Garden Grove, Calif.) celebrated a 2015 Western World win in the 360 Sprint division in 2015 at Tucson.
Arizona Speedway has been a mainstay for the USAC Southwest Sprint Car series with 41 events held since the 2013 season. No driver has won more times in a sprint car at the track than R.J. Johnson (Laveen, Ariz.) who’s taken the checkered 19 times in his career at the track, including twice this year in USAC CRA and Southwest competition. He scored a 360 prelim win during Western World at Canyon in 2013 and notched his top USAC National finish of 3rd on the final night in 2017.
Fellow expected entrants for this weekend’s Western World, Charles Davis, Jr. (Buckeye, Ariz.) is next in line with eight Southwest triumphs at Arizona, followed by Stevie Sussex (Tempe, Ariz.) at four, and Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.), Tye Mihocko (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Mike Martin (Yuma, Ariz.) with one apiece with the Southwest series. Martin pulled off a major feat in 2012 at Canyon by winning a USAC National Sprint car race with a 360 engine under the hood.
Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.), who was out of action last weekend following a turn one flip on the opening night of the Oval Nationals on Thursday, is expected to return. He was plagued by a bit of bad luck in his Rookie Western World run in 2018, finishing 24th in the prelim, then missing the show on the final night. McDougal is a two-time winner this year with the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets and once in the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car division where he’ll be one of several drivers performing double-duty at Western World.
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.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-C.J. Leary-2,192, 2-Tyler Courtney-2,148, 3-Brady Bacon-2,029, 4-Kevin Thomas, Jr.-2,027, 5-Chris Windom-2,020, 6-Justin Grant-2,012, 7-Chase Stockon-1,935, 8-Jason McDougal-1,493, 9-Carson Short-1,361, 10-Isaac Chapple-1,193.
AMSOIL USAC/CRA SPRINT CAR POINTS: 1-Damion Gardner-1,382, 2-Austin Williams-1,323, 3-Brody Roa-1,227, 4-Jake Swanson-1,138, 5-Chris Gansen-846, 6-Tommy Malcolm-829, 7-Charles Davis, Jr.-745, 8-Richard Vander Weerd-683, 9-Eddie Tafoya, Jr.-672, 10-R.J. Johnson-670.
SANDS CHEVROLET USAC SOUTHWEST SPRINT CAR POINTS: 1-Brody Roa-1,008, 2-R.J. Johnson-982, 3-Stevie Sussex-919, 4-Charles Davis, Jr.-884, 5-Jake Swanson-699, 6-Mike Martin-655, 7-Austin Williams-564, 8-Damion Gardner-509, 9-Matt Lundy-500, 10-Chris Bonneau-477.