New Egypt, NJ – Two-time defending AMSOIL Sprint Car National Champion Bryan Clauson thrilled the fans at New Egypt Speedway on Thursday night with a charge in the final laps to steal victory on the last circuit in “Eastern Storm” Round 3. The Noblesville, Indiana driver caught race-long leader C.J. Leary on the 29th and the two exchanged the top spot before Clauson took the lead down the backstretch for the final time and held on for his second win of the season.
Leary led from the pole and quickly opened up an expansive lead, slicing through lapped traffic on a long green-flag run to open the race. Clauson slipped from row-three to the second spot but had a mess of traffic keeping him jammed. New track record holder Brady Bacon was racing with Dave Darland, as Chase Stockon slipped to the fifth spot.
With 19 laps in the books, Jon Stanbrough came to a stop with a flat right-rear tire after taking his back-up car from the tail into the top-ten.
Leary used a great restart and some lapped cars behind him to open up another sizeable advantage, as Clauson worked his way through traffic again. Another quick caution gave Clauson a free shot at Leary, but the young Greenfield, Indiana driver again pulled away. Bacon used the high side to dispose of Darland for third, as Clauson began to find a new line, particularly down the backstretch, and gain ground on Leary.
With three to go, Clauson had moved within striking distance, and with a big run down the backstretch on lap 29, he slid the high-line-running Leary into turn-three for the lead. Leary crossed over and was ahead by a nose at the line, closing the door on Clauson into one as the two nearly touched.
Clauson squared off turn-two and beat Leary into three on the final lap, sweeping to the high line and holding off Leary for his 27th career win, now putting him alone in 14th all-time. It was his ninth win aboard the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing – Chevy Performance #20 Beast/Kistler.
“It was a big night for us – my guys have worked hard the last few nights to figure some things out and we’ve definitely made gains. He (Leary) did a fantastic job all race, and I really thought we could get him on the last restart, but he got away from us. I started moving around and tried to just make a run at him, and the diamond off turn-two worked enough for us. Cutting the corner down the back is something I’ve learned here that is key here. I just wanted to break his momentum, and we’d have a shot,” Leary said.
Leary finished off his finest night in USAC Sprint Car competition with the runner-up finish aboard the Leary Construction – Green Tech Lubricants #30 DRC/Claxton Mopar.
“It sure woulda been nice to pick up our first win here at New Egypt, but it’s definitely a confidence booster to run so well and finish second to a champion like Clauson. I knew somebody was there, but I just kept running the top hard. I got a good cross-over when he passed me the first time, but I just couldn’t get the drive off turn-two. It’s a tough place to get around with an awkward shape, but the 30 machine was running great around here,” Leary said.
Bacon protected his National point lead and took over the RW & Partners “Eastern Storm” Championship lead with another podium finish aboard the Hoffman Auto Racing – Mean Green #69 Triple X/Williams Mopar.
“We just didn’t quite have enough at the end. The race track was there to go forward tonight, but we were just a little too free to have enough for the top two. We were able to get the top to work to get around Dave for third. The things we changed in the off-season have obviously helped a lot, and our car is just really stable right now,” Bacon said.
Darland ended up fourth in the Phillips Motorsports – Racer’s Advantage Store #71P DRC/Foxco, and Stockon rounded out the top-five in the Superior Tank & Trailer – Crescent Electric Supply #32 DRC/Fisher.
AMSOIL USAC SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 5, 2014 – New Egypt, New Jersey – New Egypt Speedway – “Eastern Storm”
QUALIFYING: 1. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-15.655 (New Track Record); 2. Bryan Clauson, 20, Stewart/Curb-Agajanian-15.661; 3. Justin Grant, 40, Hery-15.754; 4. Jon Stanbrough, 37RW, Dutcher-15.819; 5. Chase Stockon, 32, 32/TBI-15.838; 6. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-15.879; 7. Dave Darland, 71P, Phillips-15.927; 8. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-16.000; 9. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 9K, KT-16.055; 10. Tracy Hines, 4, Hines-16.073; 11. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-16.075; 12. Chris Windom, 11, Walker-16.077; 13. Daron Clayton, 3R, Byram-16.089; 14. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-16.155; 15. Trevor Kobylarz, 14, RT-16.257; 16. Dalten Gabbard, 5, Baldwin-16.284; 17. Mark Smith, 1M, Smith-16.446; 18. Hunter Schuerenberg, 20N, Schuerenberg/Nolen-16.555; 19. Chad Boespflug, 98, Boespflug-16.556; 20. Shane Cockrum, 66, Wade-16.572; 21. Joey Biasi, B1, Biasi-16.776; 22. Mark Bitner, 15, Bitner-16.892; 23. Harris Kohen, 0, Kohen-17.992; 24. Jimmy Carpenter, 87, Carpenter-18.010.
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Gabbard, 2. Darland, 3. Bacon, 4. Clayton, 5. Hines, 6. Bitner, 7. Boespflug, 8. Stanbrough. 2:13.82
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Smith, 2. Ballou, 3. Leary, 4. Stockon, 5. Clauson, 6. Andretti, 7. Cockrum, 8. Kohen. 2:14.74
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Windom, 2. Schuerenberg, 3. Kobylarz, 4. Grant, 5. Thomas, 6. Biasi, 7. Carpenter, 8. Simon. NT
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Stanbrough, 2. Simon, 3. Bitner, 4. Andretti, 5. Boespflug, 6. Cockrum, 7. Biasi, 8. Kohen, 9. Carpenter. 3:19.66
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Bryan Clauson, 2. C.J. Leary, 3. Brady Bacon, 4. Dave Darland, 5. Chase Stockon, 6. Tracy Hines, 7. Justin Grant, 8. Landon Simon, 9. Hunter Schuerenberg, 10. Daron Clayton, 11. Trevor Kobylarz, 12. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 13. Jarett Andretti, 14. Mark Smith, 15. Robert Ballou, 16. Chad Boespflug, 17. Mark Bitner, 18. Joey Biasi, 19. Chris Windom, 20. Jon Stanbrough, 21. Dalten Gabbard, 22. Shane Cockrum. NT
**Simon flipped in Heat 3.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-29 Leary, Lap 30 Clauson.
NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Bacon-706; 2-Darland-674; 3-Clauson/Stockon-646; 5-Hines-635; 6-Grant-595; 7-Stanbrough-593; 8-Schuerenberg-539; 9-Windom-483; 10-Leary-457.
NEW RW & PARTNERS EASTERN STORM POINTS: 1-Bacon-180; 2-Stockon-178; 3-Darland-177; 4-Grant-165; 5-Hines-159; 6-Clauson-154; 7-Leary-148; 8-Stanbrough-138; 9-Schuerenberg-137; 10-Thomas-125.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: June 7 – Port Royal, Pennsylvania – Port Royal Speedway – “Eastern Storm”
Photo Credit: Rich Forman