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Bryan Clauson wins the 7th annual “Chad McDaniel Memorial”

By Richie Murray
Beloit, Kansas………Bryan Clauson’s magical 2016 season found the way to victory lane Wednesday night as he became the first two-time winner of the “Chad McDaniel Memorial” USAC Midget National Championship race at Solomon Valley Raceway.
The Noblesville, Indiana driver worked his way from the fifth-starting spot to challenge Spencer Bayston for the lead in the final third of the race, making the winning pass with 11 laps to go after two consecutive dead-heats on laps 24 and 25 to take his 27th feature victory of the year (15th in USAC) while also taking over the series’ point lead heading into the 39th running of the “Belleville Midget Nationals” this Friday and Saturday night.
At the drop of the green flag, pole sitter Spencer Bayston shot out to the lead on the bottom with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate Carson Macedo and Tucker Klaasmeyer trailing just behind. Fourth-starting Holly Shelton teetered off the edge of the banking between turns one and two on the opening lap, slipping back to the 11th spot by the conclusion of lap one.
The red flag flew for an incident on the fifth lap when Tyler Thomas found himself spinning backwards between turns three and four. With nowhere to go, Cody Brewer – the promoter of the previous night’s event in Fairbury, Nebraska – plowed head-on in a nose-to-nose meeting with the sitting-duck Thomas, tipping Brewer onto his side after the contact. Brewer walked away uninjured, but would not restart. Thomas would resume his race from the tail.
As Bayston continued to lead the way, hugging the infield tires on the bottom all the way around the ¼-mile dirt oval, a pair of Ryan’s dueled for the fifth position – Ryan Robinson and Ryan Greth. On lap six, Greth went to the outside of Robinson between the third and fourth turns. Robinson’s front end stepped out from him, sending him ever so slightly up the racetrack as Greth ramped over the right rear tire of Robinson, sending himself airborne before landing on all fours and sliding gently backward into the outside turn four wall. Greth would restart from the tail.
Bayston and Macedo led a two-car breakaway on the ensuing restart while 2014 “Chad McDaniel Memorial” winner Clauson began to mount a charge on the topside while the majority of the front runners stuck to the bottom. On lap eight, though, Clauson swapped to the bottom to sneak underneath Klaasmeyer at the exit of turn four to grab third.
However, the action would once again come to a halt just one lap later after Anton Hernandez flipped wildly at the end of the front straightaway, landing a country-mile outside the turn one banking. Hernandez would walk away uninjured.
Clauson was now tucked behind the two front runners of the early portion of the event on the lap nine restart. Clauson continued to go to work a lane or two higher than Bayston and Macedo in the middle of the racetrack and was able to quickly reel in Macedo and blast by off the exit of turn four to take second at the stripe.
However, before the entire lap could be completed, a Matt Johnson/Jeff Stasa tangle between turns one and two negated Clauson’s pass, relegating him back behind Macedo on the restart.
After a sluggish start to the race that saw three cautions and two red flags in the opening 14 laps of the event, Clauson wan anxious to get going to the front, and that he did on lap 19 as he closed in on Macedo once again for second. Macedo, the leading series rookie out of Lemoore, California, drifted up the racetrack at the entrance of turn three, opening the door for Clauson to dart by on the bottom to grab second place.
Clauson’s sole focus was now lasered-in on leader Bayston with 16 laps remaining. Clauson wasted no time carving into the advantage held by Bayston, the 2015 series rookie of the year, as he ripped the high-side of the surface, banging off the cushion between turns one and two to get a run down the back straight that allowed him to pull even alongside Bayston entering turn three on lap 24.
The two remained side-by-side, wheel-to-wheel through the corner and off of turn four, resulting in a near dead-heat at the line with Bayston officially credited as the leader of the lap by the length of the radius of his front right wheel.
As the pair sped by the flag stand, Clauson carried his momentum into turn one with Bayston to his inside. Clauson used the top to perfection, jetting off the cushion down the banking to pull away to a three-car advantage on the back straight. However, Clauson got tight on the entry to turn three, shoving the nose of his machine up the racetrack just enough to allow Bayston to claw back underneath to edge ahead for a split-second, but Clauson gathered himself and gassed it back to the lead by a full wheel at the start/finish line with 11 to go on lap 25.
Clauson motored away off the top between turns one and two past Bayston, immediately putting an end to the suspense after staking his claim on the bottom of turns three and four and ripping the top in one and two to pull away from Bayston in the waning laps.
At the checkered, Clauson was on a pressure-free comfort cruise as he ran away for a three and a half-second victory over a hard-charging Tanner Thorson, who snuck by third-place finisher Bayston with four circuits to go, with Macedo and previous night’s feature winner Chad Boat rounding out the top-five.
In a dream season in which Bryan Clauson has barnstormed across the country (and the world) competing at a wide array of venues in a variety of racing machines on his quest to compete in 200 racing events throughout the year, Clauson just may very well add another USAC National title to the resume as he took over the point lead in the latest Midget standings by six points over Bayston by virtue of his 38th career USAC National Midget feature victory (7th all-time) on Wednesday night in his Dooling-Hayward/Cancer Treatment Centers of America – B & H Contractors/Spike/Stanton SR-11.
“It’s a little bit of an advantage to be the guy doing the chasing because the leaders don’t necessarily know where you’re at,” Clauson explained. “Spencer (Bayston) was going on the bottom pretty good. I showed him the nose and got him hustling a little bit and we could make a move. If there had been anything up in (turns) three and four, it would’ve been an advantage, but everything funneled back into (turns) one and two. I just tried make it quick and rip it off like a Band-Aid to make our move. I feel really good headed to Belleville. It’s a place I’ve had a lot of success and we’re going back with a little different package. I’ve won twice before with my dad on the wrenches, so it should be a lot of fun. It’s a place we always look forward to going to, especially on Saturday when it gets up on the guardrail.”
Thorson, of Minden, Nevada, overcame his 17th starting spot with a spirited charge to second at the finish line, earning the night’s KSE Racing Products “Hard Charger” Award for his efforts in his Keith Kunz – Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/TRD – JBL Audio/Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
“I just tried to get the power down to the racetrack as I was moving forward,” Thorson said. “It was really slick on entry to (turns) three and four and you couldn’t be on the gas or you’d miss the little groove that was there. We made some changes tonight that are a little bit different than our normal setup and it definitely helped. With this team, you always have confidence no matter where you finish. I’m excited going into Belleville.”
Bayston led the first 24 laps of the event before relenting the spot to Clauson. Yet, despite the circumstances, Bayston is pleased overall as he looks ahead to making his second appearance at Belleville in his Keith Kunz – Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/TRD – Mobil 1/Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
“It’s tough leading because you don’t know where the guys behind you are running,” Bayston lamented. “I was wondering, but never felt like I absolutely needed to try it because we were so good on the bottom. I could hear (Clauson) behind me and, as the race went on, the bottom in (turns) three and four got slick and I just made a mistake which let him by us. Then, I was trying to do what Bryan (Clauson) did and it let Tanner (Thorson) get by too, so we kind of just got ate up at the end. But, we led a good chunk of the race, so that was solid. Overall, it was a decent night for us. Obviously, we want to win, but we’ll take a third and head to Belleville.”
Contingency award winners at Solomon Valley Raceway included Brady Bacon (ProSource Fast Qualifier), Ryan Greth (Simpson Race Products First Heat winner), Tanner Thorson (Competition Suspension, Inc. (CSI) Second Heat Race winner and KSE Racing Products Hard Charger), Keith Rauch (Benic Enterprises Third Heat Race winner), Chad Boat (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat winner) and Casey Shuman (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher).
In addition, awards posted in memory of Chad McDaniel were claimed by Spencer Bayston (First lap leader), Tanner Thorson (Hard Charger) and Anton Hernandez (Hard Luck).
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USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: August 3, 2016 – Beloit, Kansas – Solomon Valley Raceway – 7th Annual “Chad McDaniel Memorial”
PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Brady Bacon, 76m, FMR-13.253; 2. Bryan Clauson, 63, Dooling/Hayward-13.480; 3. Holly Shelton, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.654; 4. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 27, Klaasmeyer-13.730; 5. Carson Macedo, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.742; 6. Ryan Robinson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.750; 7. Casey Shuman, 32, Dunlap-13.776; 8. Spencer Bayston, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.794; 9. Ryan Greth, 4, Lesher-13.806; 10. Anton Hernandez, 25, Petry/Goff-13.836; 11. Keith Rauch, 47, Mason-13.855; 12. Dave Darland, 11AG, Gray-13.895; 13. Chett Gehrke, 11c, Matteson-13.930; 14. Bob Harr, 2, Halarr-13.955; 15. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-13.969; 16. Chad Boat, 84, Tucker/Boat-14.077; 17. Lance Bennett, 10, McCauley-14.149; 18. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-14.182; 19. Jeff Crook, 5J, Crook-14.184; 20. Matt Johnson, 85, Central-14.245; 21. Cody Brewer, 96, Central-14.266; 22. Dustin Weland, 88, Weland-14.270; 23. Ryan Oerter, 43, RKO-14.291; 24. Brayton Lynch, 1K, RKR-14.299; 25. Troy Simpson, 7, Simpson-14.310; 26. Jeff Stasa, 91, SBR-14.539; 27. Tyler Dunkle, 0B, Zero-14.647; 28. Johnny Murdock, 0, Zero-14.958; 29. Terry Goodwin, 2G, Goodwin-14.960; 30. Ashley Oerter, 16, RKO-16.173; 31. Cody Williams, 13, Zero-16.497; 32. Garett Hood, 11H, Two Hoods-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Greth, 2. Macedo, 3. Gehrke, 4. Bacon, 5. Bennett, 6. Goodwin, 7. Brewer. 2:02.67
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Thorson, 2. Clauson, 3. Hernandez, 4. Harr, 5. Robinson, 6. Stasa, 7. Weland, 8. A. Oerter. 2:06.81
BENIC ENTERPRISES THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Rauch, 2. Shelton, 3. Thomas, 4. R. Oerter, 5. Williams, 6. Crook, 7. Shuman. 2:11.40
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Boat, 2. Johnson, 3. Klaasmeyer, 4. Bayston, 5. Darland, 6. Murdock, 7. Lynch, 8. Hood. 2:20.64
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Shuman, 2. Robinson, 3. Darland, 4. Brewer, 5. Stasa, 6. Goodwin, 7. Weland, 8. Murdock, 9. Dunkle, 10. A. Oerter, 11. Bennett, 12. Crook, 13. Williams. NT
FEATURE: (35 laps) 1. Bryan Clauson, 2. Tanner Thorson, 3. Spencer Bayston, 4. Carson Macedo, 5. Chad Boat, 6. Brady Bacon, 7. Dave Darland, 8. Ryan Robinson, 9. Tyler Thomas, 10. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 11. Holly Shelton, 12. Chett Gehrke, 13. Casey Shuman, 14. Bob Harr, 15. Keith Rauch, 16. Jeff Stasa, 17. Ryan Oerter, 18. Terry Goodwin, 19. Ryan Greth, 20. Matt Johnson, 21. Anton Hernandez, 22. Cody Brewer, 23. Brayton Lynch. NT
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**Simpson flipped during qualifying. Brewer flipped on lap 5 of the feature. Hernandez flipped on lap 9 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-24 Bayston, Laps 25-35 Clauson.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Tanner Thorson (17th to 2nd)
NEW USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Clauson-656, 2-Bayston-650, 3-Bacon-632, 4-Boat-598, 5-Thorson-580, 6-Macedo-519, 7-Robinson-429, 8-Shane Golobic-407, 9-Thomas-405, 10-Shelton-385.
NEXT USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACES: August 5-6 – Belleville, Kansas – Belleville High Banks – 39th Annual “Belleville Midget Nationals”
Bryan Clauson. (Bill Miller Photo)

Bryan Clauson. (Bill Miller Photo)

 

USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: August 3, 2016 – Beloit, Kansas – Solomon Valley Raceway – 7th Annual “Chad McDaniel Memorial”
PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Brady Bacon, 76m, FMR-13.253; 2. Bryan Clauson, 63, Dooling/Hayward-13.480; 3. Holly Shelton, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.654; 4. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 27, Klaasmeyer-13.730; 5. Carson Macedo, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.742; 6. Ryan Robinson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.750; 7. Casey Shuman, 32, Dunlap-13.776; 8. Spencer Bayston, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.794; 9. Ryan Greth, 4, Lesher-13.806; 10. Anton Hernandez, 25, Petry/Goff-13.836; 11. Keith Rauch, 47, Mason-13.855; 12. Dave Darland, 11AG, Gray-13.895; 13. Chett Gehrke, 11c, Matteson-13.930; 14. Bob Harr, 2, Halarr-13.955; 15. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-13.969; 16. Chad Boat, 84, Tucker/Boat-14.077; 17. Lance Bennett, 10, McCauley-14.149; 18. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-14.182; 19. Jeff Crook, 5J, Crook-14.184; 20. Matt Johnson, 85, Central-14.245; 21. Cody Brewer, 96, Central-14.266; 22. Dustin Weland, 88, Weland-14.270; 23. Ryan Oerter, 43, RKO-14.291; 24. Brayton Lynch, 1K, RKR-14.299; 25. Troy Simpson, 7, Simpson-14.310; 26. Jeff Stasa, 91, SBR-14.539; 27. Tyler Dunkle, 0B, Zero-14.647; 28. Johnny Murdock, 0, Zero-14.958; 29. Terry Goodwin, 2G, Goodwin-14.960; 30. Ashley Oerter, 16, RKO-16.173; 31. Cody Williams, 13, Zero-16.497; 32. Garett Hood, 11H, Two Hoods-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Greth, 2. Macedo, 3. Gehrke, 4. Bacon, 5. Bennett, 6. Goodwin, 7. Brewer. 2:02.67
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Thorson, 2. Clauson, 3. Hernandez, 4. Harr, 5. Robinson, 6. Stasa, 7. Weland, 8. A. Oerter. 2:06.81
BENIC ENTERPRISES THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Rauch, 2. Shelton, 3. Thomas, 4. R. Oerter, 5. Williams, 6. Crook, 7. Shuman. 2:11.40
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Boat, 2. Johnson, 3. Klaasmeyer, 4. Bayston, 5. Darland, 6. Murdock, 7. Lynch, 8. Hood. 2:20.64
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Shuman, 2. Robinson, 3. Darland, 4. Brewer, 5. Stasa, 6. Goodwin, 7. Weland, 8. Murdock, 9. Dunkle, 10. A. Oerter, 11. Bennett, 12. Crook, 13. Williams. NT
FEATURE: (35 laps) 1. Bryan Clauson, 2. Tanner Thorson, 3. Spencer Bayston, 4. Carson Macedo, 5. Chad Boat, 6. Brady Bacon, 7. Dave Darland, 8. Ryan Robinson, 9. Tyler Thomas, 10. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 11. Holly Shelton, 12. Chett Gehrke, 13. Casey Shuman, 14. Bob Harr, 15. Keith Rauch, 16. Jeff Stasa, 17. Ryan Oerter, 18. Terry Goodwin, 19. Ryan Greth, 20. Matt Johnson, 21. Anton Hernandez, 22. Cody Brewer, 23. Brayton Lynch. NT
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**Simpson flipped during qualifying. Brewer flipped on lap 5 of the feature. Hernandez flipped on lap 9 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-24 Bayston, Laps 25-35 Clauson.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Tanner Thorson (17th to 2nd)
NEW USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Clauson-656, 2-Bayston-650, 3-Bacon-632, 4-Boat-598, 5-Thorson-580, 6-Macedo-519, 7-Robinson-429, 8-Shane Golobic-407, 9-Thomas-405, 10-Shelton-385.
NEXT USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACES: August 5-6 – Belleville, Kansas – Belleville High Banks – 39th Annual “Belleville Midget Nationals”