CLAUSON ON CRUISE CONTROL AT THE BURG; CLAIMS VICTORY IN INDIANA SPRINT WEEK ROUND 3
Lawrenceburg, Indiana………Bryan Clauson continued his winning ways Sunday night during the third round of Indiana Sprint Week at Lawrenceburg Speedway, holding off a mid-race challenge from Josh Hodges and snookering the field on a late race restart to earn his 41st career USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory, surpassing Gary Bettenhausen for seventh on the all-time list. Clauson also collected his 111th career USAC-sanctioned feature victory, moving him into the top-five on the all-time list alongside some of the giants of the sport. Clauson now stands behind only Rich Vogler (171), A.J. Foyt (162), Sleepy Tripp (161) and Mel Kenyon (131) in career USAC wins.
Hunter Schuerenberg started the race from the pole position and, just as he did at Gas City two nights prior in the “Sprint Week” opener, shot out to the lead on the opening lap. ProSource Fast Qualifier Clauson, meanwhile, had already made quick work disposing of Tyler Courtney, Justin Grant and Hodges to move from sixth to third on lap one. With a single lap in the books, Kyle Wissmiller, who was making his first USAC Sprint Car start exactly eight years to the day of his last feature appearance in 2008, slid to a stop, bringing out the first yellow of the night. On the ensuing restart, Clauson wasted no time resuming his charge to the front, slipping past April 2015 Lawrenceburg winner Logan Jarrett for second on the bottom off the exit of turn four. Next on BC’s radar was leader Schuerenberg, who saw his lead quickly evaporate as Clauson reeled him in in no-time flat by lap five. The duo drag raced to a dead heat at the flag stand, but Schuerenberg was able to hold steady for the time-being until Clauson was able to jet off the topside of turn four to complete the pass for the lead on lap six. However, at the same moment, Jarett Andretti found himself turned around on the main straightaway, bringing out the caution. Due to the lap not being fully completed, Schuerenberg would be reinserted into to the lead with Clauson relegated back to second.
On the restart, Clauson dove low, grabbing the bite off the bottom of the banking to recapturing the lead from Schuerenberg on the sixth circuit. Clauson would secure the spot for good in turn two as he slid up to the top, ripping away Schuerenberg’s line and pulling away to a healthy advantage. Quickly thereafter, Hodges grabbed second as Schuerenberg began to slip into the distance from the front of the pack. Hodges still had a more than half-straightaway deficit to overcome Clauson’s lead, but a turn three tangle between April’s Lawrenceburg USAC Sprint winner Dave Darland as well as Nick Bilbee and Zach Daum brought the yellow out, thereby erasing the gap and putting Hodges, an April USAC/CRA Sprint Car feature winner at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway, squarely behind the rear bumper of Clauson on the restart with 17 laps to go. After the green flag waved, Hodges was able to hang right along with leader Clauson, chipping away at the interval little-by-little. Clauson ran his machine up top against the wall at both ends of the racetrack while Hodges ran side-by-side with Clauson, pulling even with the leader while utilizing the bottom line between turns three and four and the middle in turns one and two to pose a formidable challenge to Clauson’s throne at the front throughout the middle portion of the 30-lap event. On the 17th lap, Clauson dove to the bottom between turns three and four to see if that suited his liking, but that was short-lived as Clauson migrated back to the topside for lap 18, and each lap thereafter, as he began to gap himself and Hodges, constructing his lead to three seconds as Hodges began to drop. With eight to go, Friday night Gas City winner Courtney started to come alive during crunch time, sticking a slide job on Schuerenberg for third in turn three and repeating the move on Hodges in turn one for the second spot with five laps remaining.
Third-running Schuerenberg’s race came to an abrupt end just three laps from the finish, slowing to a stop in a puff of smoke between turns three and four, which set up one final restart - a rematch between the rapidly-closing Courtney and Clauson for a three-lap shootout. Clauson quickly thwarted any thoughts Courtney had of repeating his Gas City triumph, blasting away to a substantial advantage heading into turn one on the restart. Nobody was able to mount a serious challenge to Clauson’s supremacy during the final three laps as he pulled away for the victory in his Dooling-Hayward/B & H Contractors – Cancer Treatment Centers of America/Spike/Stanton Mopar over Courtney, Windom, Leary and Hodges.
Noblesville, Indiana’s Clauson moved into the top-five in all-time Indiana Sprint Week wins with his seventh career checkered flag Sunday night at “The Burg” while also capturing his seventh USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory of the 2016 season, already equaling his best single-season win total in the series, which he accomplished during his back-to-back championship years in 2012 and 2013. “I wanted to catch everybody by surprise on that last restart and it worked,” Clauson said. “We were a little tight on the curb, so I didn’t know how aggressive to be on it, but we were able to get to the front early on. It’s hard sometimes, when you’re out front, to know what pace to run, but we held them off. When I saw Hodges on the bottom, I went down there just to feel it out, but felt like it’d take me too long to figure out how to run it. The cushion on both ends on exit was pretty big and, if you hit it wrong, it would throw the nose. I had to be careful, but those guys behind us made me pick up the pace more than what I had been doing up to that point. Our car was good, I just had it on cruise control and tried not to make any mistakes.” Courtney, of Indianapolis, Indiana, not only retained his Indiana Sprint Week point lead with his second place run in his TOPP Motorsports/Maxim/Chevy, but extended it from 2 to 22 points over Brady Bacon and Chris Windom heading into the final four-race stretch of “Sprint Week” at the Terre Haute Action Track on Wednesday, July 13. “I can’t ask for much more, other than to have won the last two nights,” Courtney said. “That last restart shows why Bryan (Clauson) is the best because he snookered the whole field. I didn’t really know what to do because we’re supposed to stay in line but that’s the way it goes. We were pretty decent; Bryan was a little better, obviously, but we’ll get it tuned up again and probably head to Terre Haute now.” Windom, of Canton, Illinois, took the Baldwin Brothers Racing/Fox Paving – AMSOIL/Maxim/Claxton Mopar to another solid third place run, tying him for second in Indiana Sprint Week points alongside Brady Bacon. “I didn’t need all those cautions at the beginning because we were better on the long run,” Windom admitted. “I was trying to make something work on the middle to bottom and I could get those guys off the bottom of four when they’d get bottled up running the top. We fell back to 11th or something at some point, so to charge back up to third is good. We’re right there in the hunt for this Sprint Week title, so if we can keep knocking out podiums, we’re going to be in good shape.”
Contingency award winners at Lawrenceburg Speedway included Bryan Clauson (ProSource Fast Qualifier), Brady Bacon (Simpson Race Products First Heat Race Winner), Nick Bilbee (Competition Suspension, Inc. (CSI) Second Heat Race Winner), Chris Windom (Benic Enterprises Third Heat Race Winner), Jon Stanbrough (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Race Winner & Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Feature Finisher) and Kyle Cummins (KSE Racing Products/B&W Auto Mart Hard Charger)
Click here for stats July 10, @ Lawrenceberg - Bryan Clauson - 42 cars