AT FRIDAY’S 55th “NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS” CELEBRATION
USAC National Drivers Champion Bryan Clauson headlines Friday night’s list of honorees at the 55th USAC “Night of Champions” National Awards Dinner held at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in downtown Indianapolis, Ind.
Clauson, of Noblesville, Ind., raked in the $40,000 cash bonus for winning the inaugural USAC National Drivers Championship, along with the $300,000 scholarship which will provide him with a ride in all of the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights oval races, including the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Also accepting checks as members of the National Drivers Championship “top-10” were runner-up Levi Jones of Olney, Ill., Jerry Coons Jr. of Tucson, Ariz., Tracy Hines of New Castle, Ind., Damion Gardner of Concord, Calif., Dave Darland of Lincoln, Ind., Bobby East of Brownsburg, Ind., Chris Windom of Canton, Ill., Shane Hmiel of Pleasant Garden, N.C. and Brad Kuhn of Avon, Ind.
Clauson also claimed the 2010 USAC Mopar National Midget title and was the top USAC Midget driver on dirt and added a third-place finish in USAC’s Silver Crown Championship Series.
Tony Stewart Racing teammate Levi Jones of Olney, Ill. claimed the 2010 USAC Silver Crown and AMSOIL National Sprint Car Championships and was the top USAC Sprint driver on dirt. The Silver Crown title was Jones’ first, while his fourth Sprint car title matched the record set by Steve Butler.
Nick Drake also claimed the 2010 USAC National Ford Focus crown and will have his name emblazoned on the permanent Henry Ford Sweepstakes Trophy. He and his father Jay become only the fifth father-son combo to claim USAC driving championships. The others are Mario and Jeff Andretti, Tony and Gary Bettenhausen, Al Unser Sr. and Jr. and Mel and Brice Kenyon.
USAC also honored champions of its 2010 The Off Road Championship (TORC) series, which included Johnny Greaves of Abrams, Wisc. (Kumho Tires Pro 4x4), Ricky Johnson of Trabuco Canyon, Calif. (AMSOIL Pro 2WD) and Casey Currie of Anaheim, Calif. (Pro Light 2WD).
Keys to the City of Indianapolis from the Mayor were presented to Jones, Clauson and Drake in recognition of their 2010 National Championships.
Emcees Jim Tretow and Scott Rehn (TORC) orchestrated the presentations, which included driver and car entrant champions, Rookies of the Year, Most Improved Drivers and special award recipients.
Among items presented to the 2010 champions were trophies, plaques, Oakley timepieces, Hoosier jackets, medallions and personalized remote-control TRAXXAS Trucks.
Driving champions in addition to the aforementioned included Mike Spencer of Temecula, Calif. (AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprints), Tony Hunt of Lincoln, Calif. (AMSOIL Western Sprints), Alex Schutte of Redding, Calif. (Mopar Western Midgets), Jimmy Wysong of South Jordan, Utah (Rocky Mountain Sprint), Craig Stidham of Fresno, Calif. (West Coast 360 Sprint), Dalton Armstrong of New Castle, Ind. (Regional and USAC/WOMS Midget), Joe Liguori of Tampa, Fla. (Midwest Ford Focus), Scott Hunter of Concord, N.C. (Eastern Ford Focus), Nick Carlson of Norwalk, Calif. (Western Ford Focus), Michael Daniels of Magna, Utah (Utah Ford Focus), Jarid Blondel of Orange, Calif. (Western Focus Young Guns), Jesse Little of Sherrills Ford, N.C. (Eastern Focus Young Guns) and Cooper Clouse of Ohio City, Ohio (Midwest Focus Young Guns). Darren Hagen of Riverside, Calif. was honored as the top USAC pavement Midget driver, while the Shane Hmiel of Pleasant Garden, N.C. was honored as the top pavement Sprint driver of 2010.
Honored as USAC .25 Midget National Champions as a result of their “Generation Next Tour” titles were Neal Allison Greensboro, NC (Junior Rookie), Sophia Fedele Westfield, IN (Senior Rookie), Chandler Smith Fitzgerald, GA (Junior Honda and Junior Stock), Mark Miller Mooresville, NC (Senior Honda), Caleb Cagle Galena, OH (Heavy Honda), Nathan McCauley Millersport, OH (Mod), Tyler Shullick Concord, NC (Light World Formula and Light AA), Michael Fanelli Rio Rancho, NM (Heavy World Formula and Heavy 160), Bryant Dawson Phoenix, AZ (B), Cooper Clouse Ohio City, OH (Heavy AA), Ross Rankine, Willard, OH (Light 160 and Senior Animal) and Tyler Clem St. Petersburg, FL (Junior Animal).
The Wilke Racing Team of Milwaukee, Wisc. was presented a special commemorative plaque in recognition of their record number of USAC National feature wins.
Ford Racing was presented two special awards, the Midget Engine Manufacturer of the Year and the TORC Engine Manufacturer of the Year. B.F. Goodrich earned the TORC Tire Manufacturer of the Year honors.
Recipients of TORC TRAXXAS MAXX Awards were Andrew Caddell of Graham, Wash. (Pro Light 2WD), who also received the series’ Rookie of the Year distinction.
Jeremy McGrath of Encinitas, Calif. was named the “Most Improved” TORC driver and Oakley Bomb awards went to Rob MacCachren of Las Vegas, Nev. (AMSOIL Pro 2WD), Johnny Greaves (Kumho Tires Pro 4x4).
TORC participant Mike Jenkins of Fairview, Texas accepted the inaugural “Jack Flannery Award” in recognition of his determination and perseverance.
The TORC “Crew Chief of the Year” honors went to Curt Greaves of DePere, Wisc.
A special USAC “Spirit of Youth Award” was presented to the Thomason Family of Fishers, Ind. for their many contributions to the sport of quarter-midget racing.
National car entrant champions included Tony Stewart Racing/Curb-Agajanian of Brownsburg, Ind. (Silver Crown), Tony Stewart Racing (National Sprint Car) and Corey Tucker Racing/Keith Kunz Motorsports/BCI of Noblesville, Ind. (National Midget).
USAC President Kevin Miller presented USAC Special Appreciation Awards to AMSOIL (corporate) and Steve Wierich (individual) for their contributions and dedicated service to the racing community.
The Agajanian Family, who last week again presented their annual “Turkey Night Grand Prix” in Irwindale, Calif., was named as the recipient of USAC’s prestigious Roger McCluskey Award of Excellence, recognizing their long tenure as USAC affiliates and race organizers.
USAC’s 2010 “Race Organizer of the Year” awards were presented to The O’Connor Family of Kokomo, ind. Speedway (National) and Chris Kearns of Santa Maria (Calif.) Speedway (Western).
Bryan Clauson earned the 2010 USAC Silver Crown “Rookie of the Year” honors, while Justin Grant of West Lafayette, Ind. received the National Sprint Car “Rookie of the Year” honors. The Bob Stroud Memorial National Midget “Rookie of the Year” Award went to Daniel Bedford of Brentwood, Calif.
Brothers Kody and Tanner Swanson of Kingsburg, Calif. were named USAC “Most Improved” National Drivers of 2010.
The Jim Blunk Award for contributions to the sport of Midget racing went to Pontoon Beach, Ill. (Tri-City Speedway) race organizers Kevin & Tammy Gundaker.
USAC’s 2010 “Mechanical Achievement of the Year” award went to Tim Clauson of Noblesville, Ind.
Second and third-place drivers and car entrants in USAC’s National racing series also received their year-end recognition and awards.
Joe DeFabis of DeFabis Photography, USAC’s Official Portrait Studio, and USAC Photographer John Mahoney presented Championship Photo Artworks to the 2010 National driving champions.
Floral decorations were provided by Jockish Flowers of Indianapolis. Tim Spillman of Auto Racing Ministries delivered the invocation.