By Richie Murray
Terre Haute, Indiana (May 19, 2021)………Tyler Courtney will take the wheel of Chris Dyson’s potent No. 9 when the 2021 USAC Silver Crown season opens with the Sumar Classic on Thursday night, May 27, at Indiana’s Terre Haute Action Track.
Courtney (Indianapolis, Ind.) owns 16 career USAC Silver Crown starts, the last 12 of which have been with team owner Hans Lein. Due to Courtney’s commitments across the racing landscape, which includes recent wins with the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars and the All Star Circuit of Champions, Courtney was unable to commit to a full slate of dirt Silver Crown events for 2021. Chris Windom was announced as Lein’s driver for the 2021 campaign during the offseason.
With Courtney now a Silver Crown free agent, so to speak, Chris Dyson Racing crew chief Sean Michael immediately made Courtney his first call, and his last call, to put a deal together to run the Sumar Classic at Terre Haute.
“Sean called me to ask if I could do the first race, and maybe the last one, so I’m excited to team up with them and, hopefully, have continued success with the Silver Crown series,” Courtney revealed. “I’ve been close to winning a bunch of races but have only won just a couple. Hopefully, I can win another one here in the little bit of Silver Crown racing we get to do this year.”
Courtney, the 2018 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion and 2019 USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget titlist, has won three times in USAC Sprint Car competition at Terre Haute’s half-mile dirt oval between 2018-2019. Two of his Silver Crown starts have come at Terre Haute, resulting in a 12th place finish in 2015 and a 3rd in 2018 after starting on the pole.
Courtney’s 3rd place run in 2018 came after an early race spin forced him to charge from the back of the pack to reach the “podium.” He knows he can win, knows he has the equipment, and is eager to try and get the job done at the famed Wabash Valley Fairgrounds track.
“To win this would be really cool. It’s the Sumar classic; it’s another Don Smith legacy that pays homage to their Indy 500 runs with him and his partner (Chapman Root),” Courtney said, referring to Smith, the longtime Action Track promoter and Terre Haute businessman.
“I think any Silver Crown race you can win is really cool, but to win a Silver Crown race at Terre Haute is even cooler,” Courtney said. “Obviously, that’s the only goal going in there since I’m not running for the championship; the goal is to try and go win the race. That adds a little bit of different pressure, but a little bit less pressure at the same time.”
Courtney’s two career USAC Silver Crown wins, at Eldora (2017) and at the Indiana State Fairgrounds (2019), are matched by that of his crew chief for Terre Haute, Sean Michael. Michael won twice as a crew chief and entrant on the USAC Silver Crown trail in 2020 with driver Kyle Larson, winning at both the Indiana State Fairgrounds and the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
Team owner Dyson, a two-time American Le Mans Series driving champion himself, hopes to get back behind the wheel of a Silver Crown car again in the future – he’s a veteran of seven series starts – but his racing commitments as a standout driver in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli have kept him out of the Silver Crown cockpit for the time being.
In the meantime, Dyson is and has been committed to fielding a car in the Silver Crown series for other talented drivers, namely Kevin Thomas Jr. and Jason McDougal in recent years, who’ve each taken the Dyson No. 9 to top-five finishes. For the Sumar, however, Courtney was given the call and Dyson is elated to have him in the seat.
“Sean and I have been talking for a while; Buddy Kofoid was going to do all the dirt Silver Crown events, but his manufacturer commitments have kind of limited what he can run with us and he’s welcome back with us whenever we can run him,” Dyson explained. “Tyler was Sean’s first call and we’re delighted to have him with us, and he’ll put on a hell of a show. He always runs up front and he’s determined to come back and have a good run. Our main aim is to win races since we’re not necessarily running for the points.”
The Sumar Classic will also feature the Scott’s Custom Colors DIRTcar Modifieds. Pits open at 2pm EDT, grandstands at 3pm, hot laps at 6:30pm with racing to follow. Adult general admission tickets are $30. Infield admission is $20. Pit passes are $35.
Track Enterprises, the promotion company for the Terre Haute Action Track, has also announced a three-day SUPERTICKET, which includes general admission for all three days of the Week of Indy events at Terre Haute for just $75, a $15 savings off the single day prices.
For advance sale Wednesday/Thursday tickets or the 3-day SUPERTICKET, visit www.tracpass.com. Tickets will also be available at the gates on each race day.
The race will be streamed live on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/3dgONXz.