CLAUSON LAST-LAP HONDA NATIONAL MIDGET “WESTERN WORLD” WINNER; BELL CLINCHES NATIONAL DIRT CHAMPIONSHIP
Peoria, Arizona.…..Two-time National Midget champion Bryan Clauson pulled out the latest in his bag of tricks for a last-corner, last-lap win in the 46th “Western World Championships” at Canyon Speedway Park on Saturday. The Noblesville, Indiana driver made it his 22nd overall USAC win on the year and fifth Honda National score.
Friday night winner Darren Hagen beat Clauson off the front row as three cautions before two laps had been completed slowed the action. The battle at the front escalated quickly as Chris Bell, who clinched the Honda National Dirt Midget Championship upon starting, got the top working early to take the lead as he and Hagen completed lap five.
Following a lap-ten caution, Bell and Hagen reigned out front as Clauson moved to third. A tight duel for fourth led to the next caution as Rico Abreu and Brady Bacon tangled in turn three.
That restart gave Hagen a chance to attack Bell again, and this time he brought Clauson with him. A quick caution with ten to go gave Bell his lead back, but it was short-lived as Hagen found his groove on the bottom. They were nearly even on lap 22 before Hagen took the lead by inches on lap 23. Clauson snuck his nose in and it became a three-way scrap just as the final caution flew with six laps to go.
Hagen appeared to be in control after the restart as Clauson and Bell searched for some advantage. Coming to the white flag, Hagen slipped in turn-four and missed the bottom as Clauson got a huge run off the cushion. Bell was right there, as well, moving underneath Clauson down the fronstretch in a race for second.
Clauson ran the top through one and two and buried it deep into the cushion through turns three and four, coming off turn-four with just enough momentum to beat Hagen to the line by .249 seconds. The 30th career National Midget win for Clauson tied him for tenth all time with Mike McGreevy and Johnny Parsons, and came aboard his familiar Corey Tucker Racing/BCI/Curb-Agajanian – Mobil1 #39 Spike/Esslinger.
“I stayed in it and knew we had a shot getting into three, but I had to be real aggressive with the cushion. That coulda ended up in the trash can – we coulda run that race five more times and I might not have hit it again – but it was a perfect corner. I felt like I was as good as him, but I didn’t know how I was gonna get around him. I was trying to find a lane, and we could get a lot of big runs, but I wasn’t gonna sneak under Darren in three and four. He was too good down there. I was trying to build momentum and actually got a bad run coming to the white and let Christopher get to my inside, and that might have won it for me by forcing me to the top in one and two. We overcame a lot this weekend, so it’s really satisfying,” said Clauson, who capped a sweep of the night after winning the Sprint Car portion, as well. The double-up carried a $5,000 bonus and an overall $20,000 night.
Hagen made it to the line in second .216 seconds ahead of Bell in the Great Clips – Fatheadz Eyewear #56 Beast/Esslinger.
“I really wouldn’t do anything different. I hit both ends good on the last lap, and I didn’t hang myself in the slick. I hit the moisture off the corner, but Clauson hit a Superman lap on the last lap to get us. We were super good on the bottom. I ripped the middle a little until it went away, and we caught a caution or two just right. It’s a lot of pressure to leave a great team (RFMS Racing), but we needed a change. We had a great run there, and luckily there’s a great group of guys who have let me drive their car and try to have some fun. It’s been a great opportunity, and we’re really looking forward to Turkey Night,” Hagen said after his first weekend of USAC racing in the Shane Hmiel-owned entry.
Bell added to his impressive season with another podium finish, giving him an insurmountable 117-point lead over Clauson going into the “Turkey Night Grand Prix.” Bell also locked up the Owner’s Championship for the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD #71 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
“It was a heckuva race – I got right up to Hagen into one, and I thought I’d have a shot if he missed the bottom, but he hit it and Clauson hit the top and I was done. I actually expected myself to run the bottom, but it opened up early and I had a free lane up top. Once I got a rhythm, we were pretty good, even through the yellows. I screwed up once and lost the lead, but we caught a yellow. Just couldn’t get going again after that – it was upsetting to be that good and then lose it like that. I have to believe the top went away some, because I had so many opportunities, I know I didn’t screw up that many times. I felt good on the bottom too, but then Bryan just ripped the last corner and drove by both of us,” Bell said.
Tracy Hines finished fourth in the Parker Machinery – Turbines, Inc. #24 Spike/Stanton Toyota, and Dave Darland came home fourth in the Keith Ford – King Racing Products #73 Ellis/Fontana.
HONDA USAC NATIONAL & WESTERN DIRT MIDGET RACE RESULTS: November 16, 2013 – Peoria, Arizona – Canyon Speedway Park – “Western World Championships”
FIRST HEAT : (8 laps) 1. Tanner Thorson (67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 2. Shannon McQueen (7, McQueen), 3. Parker Price-Miller (9P, Ronk), 4. Taylor Ferns (55, Ferns), 5. Jake Swanson (05, Van Dyne/Swanson), 6. Dalton Armstrong (7A, C&A), 7. Rick Shuman (22, Shuman), 8. Stevie Sussex (1AZ, Sussex).
SECOND HEAT : (8 laps) 1. Tyler Thomas (91T, Thomas), 2. Nick Drake (55x, Cline), 3. Brad Kuhn (10, Cook), 4. Chris Windom (3, RFMS), 5. Jerry Coons, Jr. (3F, RFMS), 6. Trey Marcham (37, McQueen), 7. Terry Goodwin (2G, Goodwin), 8. Kyle Edwards (39x, Edwards).
THIRD HEAT : (8 laps) 1. Mike Spencer (57, Ecker), 2. Andrew Felker (11A, Felker), 3. Aaron Reutzel (91A, Thomas), 4. Ronnie Gardner (68, Johnson), 5. Bobby East (4, Klatt), 6. Levi Roberts (2, Roberts), 7. Zach Daum (5D, Daum).
DASH : (6 laps) 1. Bryan Clauson (39, Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian), 2. Darren Hagen (56, Hmiel), 3. Brady Bacon (99, Ronk), 4. Dave Darland (73, Ford), 5. Rico Abreu (67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 6. Chris Bell (71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 7. Tracy Hines (24, Parker), 8. Caleb Armstrong (7c, C&A).
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Windom, 2. Gardner, 3. Daum, 4. Ferns, 5. Coons, 6. Marcham, 7. Roberts, 8. D. Armstrong, 9. East, 10. Swanson, 11. Goodwin, 12. Shuman, 13. Edwards.
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Bryan Clauson, 2. Darren Hagen, 3. Chris Bell, 4. Tracy Hines, 5. Dave Darland, 6. Brad Kuhn, 7. Tyler Thomas, 8. Mike Spencer, 9. Ronnie Gardner, 10. Andrew Felker, 11. Tanner Thorson, 12. Chris Windom, 13. Caleb Armstrong, 14. Jake Swanson, 15. Jerry Coons, Jr., 16. Shannon McQueen, 17. Trey Marcham, 18. Aaron Reutzel, 19. Dalton Armstrong, 20. Parker Price-Miller, 21. Nick Drake, 22. Brady Bacon, 23. Taylor Ferns, 24. Zach Daum, 25. Rico Abreu.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-4 Hagen, Laps 5-22 Bell, Laps 23-29 Hagen, Lap 30 Clauson
NEW HONDA NATIONAL DIRT MIDGET POINTS: 1-Bell-1,088; 2-Clauson-971; 3- Hagen-908; 4-Hines-889; 5-Abreu-834; 6-Coons-770; 7-Daum-707; 8-Felker-691; 9-Kuhn-640; 10-Thorson-614.
NEXT HONDA NATIONAL DIRT MIDGET RACE: November 28 – Perris, California – Perris Auto Speedway – “Turkey Night Grand Prix”
NEXT WESTERN MIDGET RACE: November 22 – Yuma, Arizona – Cocopah Speedway