Ocala, Florida…….Bryan Clauson of Noblesville, Indiana began his defense of last year’s AMSOIL National Sprint Car championship in style by winning Thursday’s 30-lap Feature at Bubba Raceway Park. Clauson, who was making his first start aboard the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing sprint car, out-dueled last year’s championship runner-up Dave Darland in a spirited fight over the race’s last fifteen laps en route to his 19th career USAC sprint car win.
Darland took advantage of his front-row starting spot to race to the lead, but Clauson kept pace over the first half of the race as the two stretched out an advantage over the rest of the field. After two early cautions, Darland jumped to the top and led as the pair entered traffic, giving Clauson the chance to pounce for the lead on lap 20. Darland shot back in front with a turn-one slide-job and the battle intensified.
With less than five laps to go, Clauson regrouped for one more run at Darland, catching him in turn-three as Darland dropped low to deal with slower cars. Clauson rocketed off the turn-four cushion with the lead as the white flag flew, completing the final circuit without issue to win in his first night aboard the Chevrolet Performance – Curb #20 Beast/Kistler Chevy.
“It was a heckuva race there with Dave. I feel like him and I just picked up right where we left off last year. It was a fun battle. I threw everything I had at him in the middle of the race, and I felt like he countered my best stuff. Traffic helped us get back to him there, and I was able to rail two good corners to get by him. It’s a great way to start the year, and I can’t say enough about my guys on this team getting us the victory in our first night together,” Clauson said.
Darland also ended his first night with a new team, coming home a strong second in the Phillips Motorsports – Racer’s Advantage #71P DRC/Foxco.
“It was a fun race. Bryan showed me the top there early. I really wasn’t sure what to do – I was looking around for someone to tell me what the hell to do because I couldn’t make up my mind. I got to the top for a bit, but I was trying to get up beside those two cars to block the top, and I didn’t quite get there quick enough. I knew he was there and wasn’t going away, so I was trying to pick the right lanes at the right times, and I did for a while, just not long enough,” Darland said.
Brady Bacon, who intends to pursue the 2013 AMSOIL National Sprint Car championship with Hoffman Auto Racing, closed in on the leaders through traffic, but with a few cars not playing his way was forced to settle for third in the Mean Green – Lykins Oil #69 Triple X/Stanton Mopar.
“A couple lapped cars just didn’t play in my favor. We got close and had a really good car the last five laps, but never got close enough to capitalize. I can’t complain about third, but we’ll keep making improvements and try to get better all year. We were good at the beginning of the night and good at the end, so that’s positive. I’m getting back in the groove of non-wing stuff and our adjustments and the increments of adjustments. Definitely a good start to the season,” Bacon said.
Hunter Schuerenberg finished fourth in the MyLocalFordStore.com – Fatheadz Eyewear #35 Mach-1/Rider, and Robert Ballou rounded out the top-five in his first night aboard the Baldwin Brothers Racing – Fox Paving #5 Maxim/Kercher Mopar.
ProSource posted awards for both Fast Time and Hard Charger. Chase Stockon came out late and nearly eclipsed the track record, circling the third-mile oval in 14.150 seconds in the Superior Tank & Trailer – Crescent Electric Supply #32 DRC/Fisher. Jac Haudenschild picked up the Hard Charger Award in the Feature by driving from 19th to finish 10th in the SST Motorsports – Physical Medicine Consultants #41 DRC/Kercher.
AMSOIL USAC SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: February 21, 2013 – Ocala, Florida – Bubba Raceway Park – “Winter Dirt Games IV”
QUALIFYING: 1. Chase Stockon, 32, Stockon-14.150; 2. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-14.204; 3. Hunter Schuerenberg, 35, Byram-14.259; 4. Bryan Clauson, 20, Stewart/Curb-Agajanian-14.302; 5. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 17RW, Dutcher-RW-TriStar-14.398; 6. Chris Windom, 21x, Pollock-14.413; 7. Dave Darland, 71P, Phillips-14.433; 8. Coleman Gulick, 14, Gulick-14.505; 9. Mark Smith, 1M, Smith-14.512; 10. Justin Grant, 11, Walker-14.567; 11. Robert Ballou, 5, Baldwin-14.568; 12. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-14.576; 13. Tracy Hines, 4, Hines-14.577; 14. Scotty Weir, 40, Hery-14.628; 15. Tyler Courtney, 23c, Courtney/Anderson-14.629; 16. Shane Cottle, 2, Epperson-14.694; 17. Nick Drake, 55, Cline-14.783; 18. Brady Short, 11P, Pottorff-14.797; 19. Jac Haudenschild, 41, Stensland-14.811; 20. Landon Simon, 41s, Stensland-15.032; 21. Brian Hayden, 77, Wingo-15.162; 22. Collin Cabre, 12x, Cabre-15.195; 23. Kurt Gross, 1x, Gross-15.237; 24. Chris Gurley, 12, Team Automotive-15.294; 25. Kyle Simon, 21, Hery-15.317; 26. Derek Hastings, 32M, Marshall-15.490; 27. Dallas Hewitt, 2M, Marshall-15.692; 28. Brian Paulus, 28, Paulus-15.892; 29. Dan Statter, 59, Statter-18.997; 30. A.J. Hopkins, 42G, Jackson-NT.
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Drake, 2. Smith, 3. Hines, 4. Thomas, 5. Stockon, 6. Hayden, 7. K. Simon, 8. Statter. 1:59.97
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Short, 2. Grant, 3. Weir, 4. Bacon, 5. Windom, 6. Cabre, 7. Hastings. 1:59.16
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Haudenschild, 2. Ballou, 3. Darland, 4. Schuerenberg, 5. Gross, 6. Courtney, 7. Hewitt. 1:59.08
FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Cottle, 2. Gulick, 3. Clauson, 4. Leary, 5. Gurley, 6. Paulus, 7. L. Simon. NT
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Windom, 2. Stockon, 3. Courtney, 4. Gurley, 5. L. Simon, 6. Gross, 7. Hewitt, 8. K. Simon, 9. Cabre, 10. Paulus, 11. Statter, 12. Hastings, 13. Hayden. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Bryan Clauson, 2. Dave Darland, 3. Brady Bacon, 4. Hunter Schuerenberg, 5. Robert Ballou, 6. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 7. Chase Stockon, 8. Chris Windom, 9. Scotty Weir, 10. Jac Haudenschild, 11. Tracy Hines, 12. Brady Short, 13. Tyler Courtney, 14. C.J. Leary, 15. Mark Smith, 16. Justin Grant, 17. Chris Gurley, 18. Landon Simon, 19. Kurt Gross, 20. Nick Drake, 21. Coleman Gulick, 22. Shane Cottle. NT
**Hastings flipped in the Semi. Cottle flipped on Lap 4 of the Feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-19 Darland, Laps 20 Clauson, Laps 21-28 Darland, Laps 29-30 Clauson.
NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Clauson-69; 2-Bacon-64; 3-Darland-63; 4-Schuerenberg-60; 5-Ballou-55; 6-Thomas-52; 7-Stockon-51; 8-Windom-44; 9-Weir-42; 10-Hines-37.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: February 22 – Ocala, Florida – Bubba Raceway Park – “Winter Dirt Games IV”