World of Outlaws
Rico Abreu Closing on Goal to Become Full-Time Outlaw
Jan 20, 2022
The 2021 season literally couldn’t have gone any better for Tyler Courtney and Clauson Marshall Racing.
For one, the NOS Energy Drink No. 7BC captured the All Stars Circuit championship with eight wins in 47 points-paying starts. That doesn’t even include winning Kings Royal XXXVIII at Eldora Speedway in July all in their first full-time season with a wing.
There were three other World of Outlaws top-5s -- leaving many to wonder what it would be like for Sunshine to mix it up in the championship battle with Brad Sweet, David Gravel, Carson Macedo and Donny Schatz.
Make no mistake: They were thinking about it, too, but 2022 will not be the season that happens with Clauson Marshall Racing choosing to defend its ASCoC championship and running a slate of marquee World of Outlaws races throughout the season.
"This past season went a lot better than planned," Courtney conceded to Racing America at the Chili Bowl. "That sped things up a little bit, but at the same time, there's still a lot we need to learn and prepare for."
Courtney and CMR have the speed to compete for wins against the Outlaws, but that’s not entirely how championships are won. Instead, it’s more about having the infrastructure to race up to four or five nights a week, and how teams respond to adversity or crashes.
"It definitely becomes more important to find ways to rebound on the bad nights when you're running for a championship and not a true outlaw schedule," Courtney said. "When you have a bad night, and it has no implications on the rest of your season, you just move on to the next one but those can carry over when you have to race the next night and the night after that."
It was a lesson, albeit on a slightly smaller scale, against the All Stars as Courtney started slow but made up for it throughout the summer. The No. 7BC opened the points paying season with finishes of 7, 9, 9, 17, 12 and 14. That could be a season-ender on the Outlaws tour, but Sunshine countered with five straight finishes of first or second to get back in championship contention.
"So, when you run consistently like that, those are the things that build a championship too," Courtney said. "It makes it easier to recover from the bad nights when you look back at the end of the year. As a driver, I learned a lot of those lessons in USAC, because you can absolutely let one bad night turn into five or six, and I matured so much during those years."
In the same way that he needed to become a more consistent, well-rounded driver, Clauson Marshall Racing is still growing into a 410 powerhouse and has some things to work on before becoming full-time Outlaws. For example, even with the championship largely secured, Courtney and Company rolled into Port Royal for the Tuscarora 50, Williams Grove for the Jack Gunn Memorial and Lincoln for the Dirt Classic and finished 14th or worse every night for five consecutive nights. There were finishes of 15th and 16th against the Outlaws in the World Finals at Charlotte Motor Speedway too.
Again, those are the kind of runs that can doom a team against the Outlaws, and it is what CMR wants to shore up in 2022.
"We have some holes we still need to fill," Courtney said. "This isn't all glamor all the time, right? Everyone has their up weeks and their down weeks, and we just have to minimize those down weeks to compete at a high level every day and every week."
However, the highs have Courtney excited for the future and it convinced him that he has the moxie to fulfill his dreams of being a 'Capital O' Outlaw at the highest level.
"I want to race there," Courtney said. "That's what we want to do and that's what we're working towards."