PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — In a wild and crazy turn of events, Paul McMahan proved to be the best in an epic game of survival of the fittest on Saturday night at Portsmouth Raceway Park, capping the 39th edition of Cometic Gasket Ohio Sprint Speedweek presented by Hercules Tires by winning the Dean Knittel Memorial worth $17,554.
Snapping a FloRacing All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 winless streak that dated back to June 15, 2018, McMahan’s campaign commenced from the outside of row six, slowly picking his way through the field while capitalizing on others’ misfortunes.
In fact, each and every competitor who led a segment of the Speedweek finale, minus McMahan, suffered a blow that forced the driver to ultimately lose command.
Suffice it to say, McMahan’s patience proved to be just as valuable as his luck, keeping himself out of harm’s way while slowly progressing through the field.
The now six-time All Star winner did not take control of the main event until the final circuit, as Danny Dietrich, who inherited the lead after Rico Abreu suffered from a flat right-rear tire on lap 26, ran out of fuel at the white flag.
“I think we were a third-place car. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good and we proved that tonight,” Paul McMahan said, driver of the CJB Motorsports No. 5 sprint car. “It’s been a rough week but this makes the week worth it now. This is kind of unreal. I can’t thank my guys enough for all of their hard work the last seven or eight days. We finally got that win.”
Kyle Reinhardt led the first six circuits before surrendering the lead to Rayce Rudeen Foundation Race champion, Zeb Wise. Wise, who started fourth, led lap seven before taking a backseat to Clauson Marshall Racing’s Tyler Courtney the very next circuit.
Accidental contact between Reinhardt and Wise on lap 13 would send Wise hard into the turn-three retaining wall; he would leave on the hook with Reinhardt forced to make repairs during the ensuing open red flag, restarting at the tail.
Meanwhile, Courtney, who led to that point, found some back luck of his own when his right-rear tire went flat directly following the open red, ultimately leaving the point to Abreu. Courtney would make the tire change in the work area and restart at the tail. It should be noted that Courtney would persevere and rally to finish fourth.
Abreu’s command would run thin on lap 26, a right-rear tire issue being the culprit.
Tyler Courtney earned the 2021 Ohio Sprint Speedweek championship, closing the eight-race turned seven-race campaign with 980 points, 32 more than second-place finisher Danny Dietrich.
Utilizing a run of five top-five finishes in seven Speedweek stops, Courtney finished no worse than 11th across the seven features, claiming a $5,000 championship payday for his efforts.
Feature (30 Laps): 1. 5-Paul McMahan ; 2. 55-Hunter Schuerenberg ; 3. 48-Danny Dietrich ; 4. 7BC-Tyler Courtney ; 5. 28-Tim Shaffer ; 6. 4-Cap Henry ; 7. 13-Justin Peck ; 8. 101-Lachlan McHugh ; 9. 26-Cory Eliason ; 10. 25R-Jordan Ryan ; 11. 22C-Cole Duncan ; 12. 16-DJ Foos ; 13. 1-Nate Dussel ; 14. 21BP-Brinton Marvel ; 15. 11N-Harli White ; 16. 17B-Bill Balog ; 17. 24-Rico Abreu ; 18. 11-Spencer Bayston ; 19. 22H-Jac Haudenschild ; 20. 91-Kyle Reinhardt ; 21. 10-Zeb Wise ; 22. 22B-Ryan Broughton ; 23. 54-Danny Smith ; 24. 3J-Trey Jacobs ; 25. O7-Skylar Gee  Lap Leaders: Kyle Reinhardt (1-6), Zeb Wise (7), Tyler Courtney (8-12), Rico Abreu (13-25), Danny Dietrich (26-29, Paul McMahan (30)