Times Sports Editor
PUTNAMVILLE -- An outstanding Indiana Midget Week crowd at Lincoln Park Speedway were treated to a thrilling feature race that will be hard to top as Bryan Clauson came from third to first off the final turn on the last lap to hold off Kyle Larson and Brad Kuhn to take the double-checkered flags and the USAC victory in the Corey Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian Parker Stone/Spike/Esslinger Ford.
Clauson, one of the top midget pilots in the nation, had his hands full with Larson, swapping the lead back-and-forth through much of the 30-lap feature and needed a late caution to reel him back in to even have a shot at the victory.
Larson had opened up a several car length advantage over the final 10 laps before a caution opened the door for Clauson.
On the final re-start, Clauson and Larson were in a dogfight for the win, but Brad Kuhn had rapidly joined the fray for the final few laps. Heading into the final two corners it was a three-way battle for the win as Clauson entered turn four on the cushion with Larson and Kuhn underneath him. Coming off the corner in third, Clauson shot off turn four like a cannon, passing both Kuhn and Larson to grab the victory.
"These guys did a phenomenal job," Clauson said of his crew. "I can't thank these guys behind me enough. We've had a tough couple of weeks here and we've been running good, but we haven't been able to finish it off. We were definitely hungry tonight and we were able to get the win off (turn four)."
The feature was one that will be talked about for a while as there was three-wide racing throughout the feature as Clauson came out on top for his 21st national midget victory. Afterwards, Clauson admitted that going topside was a gamble as he hasn't always had a lot of luck with the cushion.
"I knew there was a ledge there and I'd been trying to stay off it all race and I've had a habit of breaking our cars when there's a big ledge like that," Clauson said of the final corner. "It was just kind of a shot in the dark and Kyle (Larson) did a good job and left me a little bit of room and he probably shouldn't have. We were able to shoot the gap and come in first. I wasn't sure how it was going to play out. I can't think everybody and this NOS Energy Drink, Curb Records car enough. They did a phenomenal job all night and we'll go to Bloomington (Friday night) and keep this Midget Week rolling."
Bobby East was the fast qualifier and placed fourth ahead of Jerry Coons Jr. Clauson emerged from Thursday's race with a five-point Indiana Midget Week lead over East heading into Friday's race at Bloomington Speedway. East leads Hagen by two points in the new Mopar National Midget standings.
In the UMP Modified feature it was Brian Hayden coming home with the victory in the Cyclone Custom Products, Indiana Openwheel.com No. 2H.
Chris Windom topped the field of 24 sprint cars in the Baldwin Brothers, Sprint Mart No. 5x.
Windom, Casey Shuman and Seth Parker were heat race winners and made up the first two rows along with Blake Fitzpatrick.
Shuman and Windom put on quite a show, swapping the lead back and forth as Jerry Coons Jr. battled with Dave Darland throughout the feature. Jon Stanbrough entered the fray, edging past Ethan Barrow, Coons and Fitzpatrick down the stretch.
Windom was finally able to open up some space over the final laps as Stanbrough was able to catch Shuman and take second ahead of Coons and Shuman.
Tonight will be a regular slate of sprints, modifieds, super stocks and bombers.
USAC Mopar National Midget Series
"Indiana Midget Week"
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Bryan Clauson, 2. Kyle Larson, 3. Brad Kuhn, 4. Bobby East, 5. Jerry Coons Jr., 6. Shane Cottle, 7. Darren Hagen, 8. Tracy Hines, 9. Thomas Meseraull, 10. Steve Buckwalter, 11. Matt Smith, 12. Levi Jones, 13. Zach Daum, 14. Levi Roberts, 15. Mario Clouser, 16. Ryan Smith, 17. Tanner Swanson, 18. Caleb Armstrong, 19. Shane Hollingsworth, 20. Michael Pickens, 21. Chris Windom, 22. Trevor Kobylarz, 23. Chase Barber, 24. Hunter Schuerenberg. NT
USAC MOPAR NATIONAL MIDGET CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 9, 2011 -- Putnamville, Indiana -- Lincoln Park Speedway -- "Indiana Midget Week"
QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Bobby East, 4, Klatt-12.809; 2. Brad Kuhn, 17B, RW-12.852; 3. Tracy Hines, 24, Parker-12.876; 4. Kyle Larson, 67, Kunz-12.892; 5. Bryan Clauson, 39, Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian-12.928; 6. Jerry Coons Jr., 3nz, JCJ-12.934; 7. Matt Smith, 13, Smith-13.010; 8. Shane Cottle, 1st, Saucier-13.019; 9. Levi Roberts, 2D, Roberts-13.019; 10. Darren Hagen, 3, RFMS-13.020; 11. Steve Buckwalter, 25, Buckwalter-13.031; 12. Tanner Swanson, 19, Team 6R/TK-13.037; 13. Caleb Armstrong, 71, Kunz-13.090; 14. Dalton Armstrong, 71k, Kunz-13.111; 15. Zach Daum, 5, Daum-13.141; 16. Shane Hollingsworth, 85, Hollingsworth-13.154; 17. Hunter Schuerenberg, 35, Rock Steady-13.173; 18. Chase Barber, 91, Barber-13.206; 19. Mario Clouser, 06, MCM-13.210; 20. Chris Windom, 11, Wilke-Pak-13.216; 21. Danny Stratton, 77, Hampton-13.232; 22. Alex Bright, 77A, Hemler-13.234; 23. Levi Jones, 20, Stewart-13.314; 24. Trevor Kobylarz, 49, Two Dogs Racing-13.326; 25. Jimmy Simpson, 21, Race Pro-13.339; 26. Nick Wean, 78, Wean-13.375; 27. Michael Pickens, 29, Berry-13.441; 28. Ryan Smith, 33, Steward-13.449; 29. Dillon Welch, 51, DMS-13.535; 30. Thomas Meseraull, 16, Sandy-13.590; 31. Jacob Wilson, 10, Moore-13.613; 32. Justin Grosz, 99, Grosz-13.797; 33. Billy Pauch Jr., 54, Burke-13.998; 34. Michael Koontz, 17k, Koontz-14.057; 35. Jimmy Glenn, 07, Glenn-14.193.
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Clauson, 2. Schuerenberg, 3. East, 4. Roberts, 5. C.Armstrong, 6. Simpson, 7. Pauch, 8. Welch. NT
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Hagen, 2. Coons, 3. Kuhn. 4. Barber, 5. Bright, 6. Meseraull, 7. Wean, 8. D.Armstrong, 9. Koontz. 1:46.62
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1.Buckwalter, 2. Jones, 3. Daum, 4. Hines, 5. M.Smith, 6. Clouser, 7. Pickens, 8. Glenn, 9. Wilson. 1:48.40
FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Windom, 2. Larson, 3. Cottle, 4. Kobylarz, 5. T.Swanson, 6. R.Smith, 7. Grosz, 8. Hollingsworth. 1:47.60
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. M.Smith, 2. Hollingsworth, 3. Meseraull, 4. Clouser, 5. R.Smith, 6. Pickens, 7. T.Swanson, 8. Stratton, 9. C.Armstrong, 10. Wilson, 11. Wean, 12. Welch, 13. Koontz, 14. Bright,15. D.Armstrong, 16. Glenn, 17. Simpson, 18. Grosz, 19. Pauch. NT