From Dick Jordan
Bryan Clauson and Levi Jones are separated by a single point in the battle for USAC’s inaugural National Drivers Championship which is beginning to enter its stretch run with a $40,000 bonus awaiting the champion at season’s end.
Clauson has started 55 National races and Jones has started 43 but only the best 25 scores count in the special tally to determine the overall USAC National Champion. Entering Saturday’s “Tony Bettenhausen 100” Silver Crown race at Springfield, Ill. and Sunday’s “Rich Vogler Classic” Sprint race at Winchester, Ind., the two drivers are trying to extend their scores by posting finishes which will increase their season totals. The unique system awards drivers 49 points for a victory in any of USAC’s three National Series (Silver Crown, Sprint or Midget), which includes a five-point bonus for the win. The point scale drops by two points to 42 for second, 40 for third, etc., with a minimum of 2 available for positions 22 and beyond.
So far, Clauson’s worst finish among the 25 which count is a sixth place, while Jones’ worst is a seventh, so the two drivers are pretty evenly matched in terms of chances of improving their scores as the year progresses.
“The new National Drivers Championship has been established to bring fan focus to our top drivers and allow for expanded marketing efforts,” stated Kevin Miller, CEO of USAC Racing. This will now allow a competitor with just a dirt sprint car or midget, or one with a pavement concentration, to compete for a USAC Championship.”
USAC Championships have a storied past and are recognized among the sports most iconic thresholds. Past USAC National Champions include Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Al and Bobby Unser, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne.
The current USAC National Drivers Championship standings show Jerry Coons Jr. third, followed by Tracy Hines and Damion Gardner. Comparatively, Clauson has 1,032 points, while Jones has 1,031, Coons has 968, Hines has 967 and Gardner has 946.
As each driver earns points, those points are compared to his previous “top-25” scores and the totals adjusted if applicable.