usac United States Auto Club 2012 logo

usac United States Auto Club 2012 logoFrom Dick Jordan

The 2013 Honda USAC Western Midget Series heads for its penultimate round this weekend as it visits Cocopah Speedway in Yuma, Ariz. Complete events are slated Friday and Saturday as Norco, Calif.’s Ronnie Gardner continues his drive to his first USAC driving title.

Gardner landed a ninth-place finish in last Saturday’s “Western World Championships” National/Western feature at Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, Ariz. and emerged with an insurmountable 320-point lead over Jake Swanson in both the overall and dirt Western standings.

It’s been nearly a quarter-century since Robby Flock won the only USAC Midget race ever in Yuma, at Yuma Speedway in 1989. The USAC Sprint cars races at Cocopah the past two seasons.

Bryan Clauson of Noblesville, Ind. scored a sensational last-corner victory over Darren Hagen to win Saturday night’s “Western World Championships” 30-lap feature at Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, Ariz. The win was one of three Clauson posted during the three-night USAC Sprint and Midget extravaganza which brought his season USAC win total to 22. That ranks him second all-time in single-season wins behind J.J. Yeley’s 24 from 2003.

Clauson led only the final lap in his Corey Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian Mobil 1 Spike/Esslinger to edge Darren Hagen and Christopher Bell to the checkered flag. Tracy Hines and Dave Darland rounded out the “top-five.” Hagen led 11 laps and Bell 18 before Clauson’s last-lap heroics.

Hagen and Bell captured the Friday and Thursday prelims at Peoria. Hagen piloted Shane Hmiel’s 5IVE-6IX, Inc. Great Clips/Fatheadz Eyewear Beast/Esslinger to Friday’s 30-lap win over Brady Bacon, Bell, Rico Abreu and Clauson. Hagen led 21 laps, including the last 12 after passing Bacon, who led two laps. Abreu also led seven laps.

Bell led the final 23 laps of Thursday’s 30-lapper in his Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian Toyota TRD Bullet/Speedway Toyota to beat Bacon, Clauson, Hagen and Abreu. Tanner Thorson, Bell’s teammate along with Abreu, led the first seven laps of the race.

2013 HONDA USAC NATIONAL DIRT MIDGET STANDINGS: 1-Christopher Bell-1,088; 2-Bryan Clauson-971; 3-Darren Hagen-908; 4-Tracy Hines-889; 5-Rico Abreu-834; 6-Jerry Coons Jr.-770; 7-Zach Daum-707; 8-Andrew Felker-691; 9-Brad Kuhn-640; 10-Tanner Thorson-614.

2013 HONDA USAC WESTERN MIDGET STANDINGS: 1-Ronnie Gardner-1,185, 2-Jake Swanson-865, 3-David Prickett-733, 4-Scott Pierovich-693, 5-Shannon McQueen-595, 6-Randi Pankratz-498, 7-Cody Swanson-458, 8-Nick Chivello-450, 9-Trey Marcham-400, 10-Rico Abreu-397.

2013 HONDA USAC WESTERN DIRT MIDGET STANDINGS: 1-Ronnie Gardner-1,185, 2-Jake Swanson-865, 3-David Prickett-733, 4-shannon McQueen-595, 5-Randi Pankratz-498, 6-Cody Swanson-458, 7-Scott Pierovich-400, 8-Trey Marcham-400, 9-Rico Abreu-397, 10-Bryan Clauson-382.