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Tyler Courtney

Defending season points champion Tyler Courtney has already won five races this year on the USAC Midget series.

Tyler Courtney is currently the best driver on the USAC Midget circuit.

The 25-year-old Indianapolis native is the defending season points champion, and he's leading again this year.

He's in a groove, but as any racer will tell you, a bad night is bound to happen.

On Tuesday, Courtney had one of the night's fastest cars in the main feature race in Meeker, Oklahoma. He was near the front before a mechanical issue slowed the car to an 11th-place finish.

As quick as he is on the track, Courtney likes to quickly put those nights behind him.

"We run so many races, so if you take that one bad night and let it run into five bad nights, then you're way behind the eight ball," Courtney said Thursday, just hours before a race in Concordia, Kansas. "You have to be cognizant enough to take that one bad night and let it be one bad night, and make the next night a good night."

Courtney will be seeking a couple of good nights this weekend in Fairbury. The country's top midget drivers will be the Jefferson County Speedway for the Midwest Midget Championship. Qualifying heats will begin at 6:30 p.m. and racing will follow at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The 40-lap main event is Saturday.

This is the USAC Midgets' only stop in Nebraska each summer, and it's an exciting stop for drivers.

"This trip is neat," Courtney said. "We come to these little fair racetracks (Fairbury has 1/5-mile oval) and it's a little different than what we're used to," Courtney said. "It's a different atmosphere and it's tight racing, but that's what these midgets are made for — to be wheel-to-wheel and put on a great show for the fans.

"These places are packed and these people don't get to watch us very often, so it's cool to see them come out to enjoy some good racing, and try to make some new fans."

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Picking up fans and picking up wins has been a trend for Courtney, who has won five USAC Midget events this year, including three within the first four stops on the 2019 tour.

Courtney also races a full slate on the USAC Sprint series, and he drives some USAC Silver Crown races, too.

So what does Courtney like more? Sprint racing or midget racing?

"I think my heart is in the sprint car, but midgets are a different kind of racing," he said. "They're really fun and technical. I kind of grew up around sprint cars more than I did midgets, but I love midgets at the same time. We have a really competitive series right now with the drivers we have."

A big part of Courtney's success is his team. He's been with Clauson/Marshall Racing team for three years after seasons of bouncing around driving for other owners.

On Friday in Fairbury, he'll be introduced as the defending points champion, and Courtney calls it a good feeling.

Though there is a bigger target on his No. 7BC car, Courtney added there is a layer of pressure off.

"I think the pressure goes away of getting the first (series win) out of the way, so you just go out there and do your job and let things fall into place, and let the other guys worry about the points and worry about trying to win a championship," Courtney said. "You see a lot of guys get caught up in it and the veterans and past champions take advantage of it."

The weekend event will include defending race champion, and Courtney's teammate, Justin Grant, who won last year's race wire-to-wire.

General admission tickets for each night in Fairbury are $20 for adults and $5 for kids.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsGrell.

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