AMSOIL Sprints
Wednesday, 8 June 2016


Bryan Clauson enjoys the spoils of victory (and the big check) in victory lane after winning Tuesday night's "Jesse Hockett Classic" - "Eastern Storm" opener at Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania's Grandview Speedway. Bryan Clauson enjoys the spoils of victory (and the big check) in victory lane after winning Tuesday night's "Jesse Hockett Classic" - "Eastern Storm" opener at Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania's Grandview Speedway. Michael Fry Photo


Bechtelsville, PA………Since starting his third Indianapolis 500-mile race a little over a week ago, Bryan Clauson has been on an absolute tear.  Along with picking up the recent “Indiana Midget Week” championship, the Noblesville, Indiana driver had won five of his last six non-wing sprint car starts coming into Tuesday night’s “Jesse Hockett Classic” - “Eastern Storm” opener at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday night, Clauson chalked up his series-leading fourth USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory in 2016, as well as tallying his 10th overall USAC-sanctioned win, leading the last 17 laps after a torrid battle up front that saw four different leaders and a bevy of others battle tooth and nail in a see-saw war of supremacy.

Pleasant surprises and front row starters Tony DiMattia and Jarett Andretti led the field to the green at the start of the 40-lap event - the longest race on the USAC National Sprint calendar this season. 

Andretti got the jump from the outside as the 22-car pack headed for turn one, but it was DiMattia who found the grip to pull ahead into the lead exiting turn two. 

By the end of the opening lap, fourth-starting Kevin Thomas, Jr. used the outside groove to motor past Andretti for the second spot.

DiMattia was able to hold off continuous pressure from Thomas until the sixth lap when Thomas outdueled DiMattia up top in the second turn for the lead.

After a yellow for Bret Mellenberndt, on the ensuing restart, Andretti made quick work of DiMattia for second, sliding up in front of DiMattia to secure the position in turn two.

Andretti, whose best career finish coming into the night was a seventh at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway one year ago, was having the race of his life as he rapidly reeled in Thomas, blasting by him on the backstretch on lap 12.  Thomas reared back as he took a shot at him in turn three, but Andretti was able to ward him off for the time being.

As the barrage of sliders between the two continued, Andretti and Thomas stuck like glue as the two ran side-by-side through turns one and two on the 13th circuit, but Thomas was able to assume control to regain his lead.

A yellow on lap 16 halted the action and bunched the field up, but it didn’t slow down the clash between Thomas and Andretti up front as Andretti immediately took to the high line on the restart.  As the two drag raced down the back straightaway, Thomas pinched Andretti toward the wall, forcing Andretti to crossover at the entrance of turn three.  As the two hit the start/finish line on lap 17, it was a dead heat.

A five-car race for the lead ensued with Thomas heading a tight-knit slew of drivers that included himself, Andretti, Chris Windom, Clauson and Robert Ballou.  Windom catfished the bottom to take second from Andretti on the 18th lap, but one lap later, Andretti used the middle-road to slingshot around both Windom and Thomas for the lead at the exit of the second turn.

Andretti flew into turn three, nearly knocking down the wall as he sprayed the ecstatic Pennsylvania crowd with Grandview Speedway soil, emerging through the fourth corner four-wide with Thomas, Clauson and Windom underneath him heading for the stripe on lap 19.

All the while, Clauson’s car seemingly got stronger on the bottom as Andretti blitzed the cushion lap-after-lap.  Clauson disposed of both Windom and Thomas to move from fourth to second in one fell swoop off of turn two on the 21st lap.

By lap 24, the bottom/middle of the track was the place to be as the top began to go away, causing Andretti to begin to fade and Clauson to have it made, as he flipped the figurative switch and cruised by Andretti for the lead and began to pull away.

Despite a caution with 12 to go, a result of contact between Shane Golobic and Shane Cottle, that erased the lead he’d built, no one could match Clauson after the last restart.  Clauson was able to seal the deal, winning by a full straightaway and taking his second “Eastern Storm” victory at Grandview, backing up his win in 2012.  He was followed to the line by Thomas, Windom, Thomas Meseraull, Andretti, Ballou, Max McGhee, Brady Bacon, DiMattia and Dave Darland.

Clauson’s victory was the fourth of his career in “Eastern Storm.”  The 2011 and 2012 “Eastern Storm” champion now moves into sole possession of eighth on the all-time USAC National Sprint Car win list, surpassing Sheldon Kinser with his 38th career series win in his Dooling-Hayward/B & H Contractors – Cancer Treatment Centers of America/Spike/Stanton Mopar.

“When everybody was all over each other there through the middle part of the race, I just needed to find a clean lane,” Clauson explained.  “We got moving around and I didn’t even really know until the very end, when the bottom got cleaned off, where exactly I needed to run.  On the restarts, I just tried to keep my momentum up so I could react more than anything.  I kept looking over my shoulder and didn’t see anybody, but this place changes so much over 40 laps, you always have to be on your toes.  These last eight or nine days have been special.  My guys are giving me fantastic cars to drive right now and it’s making my job easy.”

Cullman, Alabama’s Kevin Thomas, Jr. led 12 laps on his way to a second place finish in his 4J Motorsports/Franklin Equipment - CEP Concrete/DRC/Chevy, his third top-three finish in his last four USAC National Sprint Car appearances.

“That battle with Andretti was fun,” Thomas exclaimed.  “He stepped it up tonight and kept everything clean.  I was kind of out to lunch, though, honestly.  I missed the setup pretty bad and, when it laid rubber at the end, that helped me.  I felt like we had about a sixth place car, but we held on and got a good run out of it.”

Chris Windom of Canton, Illinois won KSE Racing Products Hard Charger honors for his run from the 14th starting position to third, running as high as second just before the midway point in his Baldwin Brothers Racing/Fox Paving – AMSOIL/Maxim/Claxton Mopar.

“I was all over the place when I was moving forward,” Windom said.  “I picked up a lot of ground diamonding turns three and four when guys would slide up and I could get them on the bottom.  But, we got to the lead battle and, just because the track is so narrow going into turn one, I ran out of room and jumped Thomas’ right rear and fell back to sixth or seven.  Derek (Claxton) gave me a great car, though, and we could drive back to a podium run.”

Contingency award winners at Grandview Speedway included Bryan Clauson (ProSource Fast Qualifier), Chad Boespflug (Simpson Race Products First Heat Race Winner), Dave Darland (Competition Suspension, Inc. (CSI) Second Heat Race Winner), Chris Windom (Benic Enterprises Third Heat Race Winner & KSE Racing Products Hard Charger), Robert Ballou (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Race Winner), and C.J. Leary (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Feature Finisher).


USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 7, 2016 – Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania – Grandview Speedway – “Eastern Storm” - “Jesse Hockett Classic”

PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Bryan Clauson, 63, Dooling/Hayward-13.664; 2. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-13.778; 3. C.J. Leary, 17GP, Dutcher-13.876; 4. Robert Ballou, 1, Ballou-13.900; 5. Thomas Meseraull, 66, Amati-13.934; 6. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 4J, 4J Motorsports-13.937; 7. Max McGhee, 17, McGhee-13.952; 8. Tony DiMattia, 50, DiMattia-14.015; 9. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-14.032; 10. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-14.039; 11. Aaron Farney, 15F, Farney-14.099; 12. Shane Golobic, 60, Ely-14.107; 13. Shane Cottle, 3, Franckowiak-14.126; 14. Trevor Kobylarz, 14, Becker-14.141; 15. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-14.219; 16. Mark Smith, 3R, Rock Steady-14.289; 17. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR-14.294; 18. Dave Darland, 11, Walker/Curb-Agajanian-14.313; 19. Jerry Coons, Jr., 39, TWH-14.326; 20. Kyle Moody, 99m, Moody-14.341; 21. Chad Boespflug, 98E, NineEight/EZR-14.341; 22. Bret Mellenberndt, 97, Mellenberndt-14.489; 23. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-14.559; 24. Joey Biasi, B1, Biasi-14.628; 25. Carmen Perigo, 21, Stehman-14.711; 26. Dustin Smith, 77, Smith-14.860; 27. J.R. Berry, 74JR, Berry-15.222; 28. Dick Mahoney, 79, Mahoney-15.358; 29. Michael Hamer, 47, Hamer-15.527; 30. Harris Kohen, 0, Kohen-16.329.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Boespflug, 2. Chapple, 3. Cottle, 4. Meseraull, 5. Bacon, 6. Clauson, 7. Perigo, 8. Hamer. 1:56.30

COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Darland, 2. Mellenberndt, 3. Andretti, 4. Thomas, 5. Kobylarz, 6. D.Smith, 7. Stockon, 8. Kohen. NT

BENIC ENTERPRISES THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Windom, 2. Simon, 3. Coons, 4. McGhee, 5. Farney, 6. Berry, 7. Leary. NT

INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Ballou, 2. Biasi, 3. DiMattia, 4. Golobic, 5. M.Smith, 6. Moody, 7. Mahoney. NT

SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Clauson, 2. Stockon, 3. Bacon, 4. Leary, 5. M.Smith, 6. Farney, 7. D.Smith, 8. Kobylarz, 9. Hamer, 10. Perigo, 11. Moody, 12. Berry, 13. Kohen. NT

FEATURE: (40 laps) 1. Bryan Clauson, 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 3. Chris Windom, 4. Thomas Meseraull, 5. Jarett Andretti, 6. Robert Ballou, 7. Max McGhee, 8. Brady Bacon, 9. Tony DiMattia, 10. Dave Darland, 11. Shane Golobic, 12. Chad Boespflug, 13. C.J. Leary, 14. Chase Stockon, 15. Aaron Farney, 16. Jerry Coons, Jr., 17. Landon Simon, 18. Mark Smith, 19. Bret Mellenberndt, 20. Isaac Chapple, 21. Shane Cottle, 22. Joey Biasi. NT


**Berry flipped during the semi.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-5 DiMattia, Laps 6-11 Thomas, Lap 12 Andretti, Laps 13-18 Thomas, Laps 19-23 Andretti, Laps 24-40 Clauson.

KSE HARD CHARGER: Chris Windom (14th to 3rd)

NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Bacon-855, 2-Meseraull-855, 3-Stockon-755, 4-Darland-735, 5-Ballou-721, 6-Leary-715, 7-Boespflug-665, 8-Kyle Cummins-658, 9-McGhee-616, 10-Clauson-508.

NEW EASTERN STORM POINTS: 1-Clauson-80, 2-Thomas-73, 3-Windom-72, 4-Meseraull-68, 5-Ballou-66, 6-Andretti-64, 7-McGhee-57, 8-DiMattia-52, 9-Bacon and Darland-51.

NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: June 8 –  Abbottstown, PA – Lincoln Speedway – “Eastern Storm”