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Clauson Becomes Second Three-Time “Belleville Midget Nationals” Champ
- Updated: August 3, 2015
Belleville, Kansas…….In a breathtakingly dominant performance, Bryan Clauson wired Saturday’s 40-lap feature to become the second three-time “Belleville Midget Nationals” champion. The Noblesville, Indiana driver beat polesitter Rico Abreu to the first set of corners to tie Jerry Coons, Jr. for crowns at the legendary Belleville High Banks while also posting his 35th career Honda National Midget Series victory, tying Tracy Hines for 7th all-time.
After grabbing the early lead, Clauson set an absolutely torrid pace. He entered lapped traffic for the first time on lap seven. Three laps later, while attacking the typical Belleville line right up against the outside guardrail, he caught the fence and had to gather himself before continuing to add to his lead.
By lap twelve, he had lapped up to 13th place and disposed of two more before halfway. That’s when he came up on his own team’s car driven by Belleville rookie Spencer Bayston, who was holding down the eleventh spot before showing smoke right in front of Clauson. Clauson cleared him on lap 21 and Bayston pulled to the infield.
Clauson had an extremely close call with a couple of lapped cars on his march away from the field, most notably with 16 laps to go entering turn-one. At this point, Christopher Bell had caught teammate Abreu for second and they fought it out for the second spot until Bell took it for good on lap 26.
Bell carved into Clauson’s lead slightly as the leader had to continue working through traffic, putting his teammate, ninth-running Dave Darland, down a lap with a turn-one slider on lap 28.
Just after Clauson lapped the eight-place running car, he had another close call with a lapped car in turn-one, but on the same lap, fourth-running Jerry Coons, Jr. slowed in turn-two with a flat tire. He visited the work area and was able to resume at the tail of the field as the last car on the lead lap in eighth place.
Clauson had two lapped cars between he and second-running Bell on the restart, and Bell could not clear them right away, allowing Clauson to slip away for the 1.44-second victory in the Dooling Machine – Jonathan Byrd’s #63 Spike/Stanton Mopar.
“This is real sweet. The first one is special, but it’s been five years since I’ve won, and to get Rusty (Kunz) his sixth and car owner Joe Dooling his second, it’s a great feeling. And to do it pounding the fence the way we did it tonight, that’s just Belleville to me. I had a couple close calls with lappers and still led so I knew I had a gap, but you’ve got to attack this place for 40 laps or you’ll regret it. It’s a test to make it through, and you just hope you can beat the track for a night. Joe Dooling has been more than a car owner to me and Rusty is unbelievable on the wrenches, so to join them in victory and stop the stranglehold of Rusty’s brother Keith here is satisfying,” Clauson said.
Bell came home comfortably in second aboard the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD #71 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
“I had a really good car and honestly thought I took the lead when I passed Darland, but Clauson was just that checked out. I was pretty disappointed when we got the yellow and realized that was him so far ahead and still leading. I guess I wasn’t quite as good as I thought I was. I thought we were pretty comparable at the end, but there’s obviously not much to do at that point,” Bell said.
Abreu filled the podium with the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD #97 Bullet/Speedway Toyota, as he came up just short in his “Belleville Nationals” defense.
“Clauson was just hauling the mail, and it was hard to keep up. After it started taking rubber, I had to hang out a little and make sure I survived. I wasn’t sure how hard I could run, and that probably cost me with Christopher. This is maybe a little dose of reality for us, with another guy hitting it and being so strong. I could feel my tires slipping a little more as we went, and I wasn’t getting off turn-two as I needed to be. It’s one of those nights where you get beat, and it happens,” Abreu said.
Tracy Hines tacked on a few points to his National Midget lead with the Parker Machinery – Turbines, Inc. #24 Spike/Stanton Toyota, and Coons rebounded to take a top-five aboard the Heffner Racing Enterprises – Lelands.com #27 Triple X/Esslinger.
USAC HONDA MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: August 1, 2015 – Belleville, Kansas – Belleville High Banks -“Belleville Midget Nationals”
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps – no points) 1. Rico Abreu (#97 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 2. Spencer Bayston (#39 Clauson), 3. Warren Johnson (#926 Frewaldt), 4. C.J. Johnson (#45x Martin), 5. Phillip Davis (#11 Gehrke), 6. Robert Bell (#71x Bell), 7. Patrick Lawson (#0B Zero), 8. Isaac Chapple (#52 Chapple). 2:25.22
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps – no points) 1. Christopher Bell (#71 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 2. Bryan Clauson (#63 RKR/Curb-Agajanian), 3. Tyler Thomas (#91T Thomas), 4. Matt Johnson (#85 Central Motorsports), 5. Garett Hood (#727 McMillan), 6. Jeff Stasa (#91 SBR), 7. Kyle Jones (#69x Hefler), 8. Johnny Murdock (#0 Zero). NT
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps – no points) 1. Dave Darland (#63x RKR/Curb-Agajanian), 2. Jerry Coons Jr. (#27 Heffner), 3. Tanner Thorson (#67 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 4. Steve Buckwalter (#25 Buckwalter), 5. Chad Frewaldt (#75 Frewaldt), 6. Aaron Schuck (#53 SET), 7. Hunter Fischer (#24F Fischer), 8. Morgan Frewaldt (#313 Frewaldt). NT
FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps – no points) 1. Kevin Thomas Jr. (#67k Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 2. Tracy Hines (#24 Parker), 3. Zach Daum (#5D Daum), 4. Cody Brewer (#96 Central Motorsports), 5. Patrick Stasa (#19s SBR), 6. Tyler Dunkle (#0D Zero), 7. Michelle Decker (#4m Meents), 8. Chett Gehrke (#11c Matteson). 2:24.78
POLE DASH: (6 laps) 1. Abreu, 2. Clauson, 3. K.Thomas, 4. Coons, 5. Bayston, 6. Hines, 7. C.Bell, 8. Darland. 1:49.81
B DASH: (6 laps) 1. Thorson, 2. Daum, 3. C.J. Johnson. 4. T.Thomas, 5. M.Johnson, 6. Brewer, 7. W.Johnson, 8. Buckwalter. NT
LAST CHANCE RACE: (12 laps) 1. P.Stasa, 2. C.Frewaldt, 3. J.Stasa, 4. Jones, 5. Chapple, 6. Decker, 7. Hood, 8. Gehrke, 9. Schuck, 10. Murdock, 11. Davis, 12. R.Bell, 13. M.Frewaldt, 14. Fischer, 15. Dunkle, 16. Lawson. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-40 Clauson.
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