By CAREY FOXTimes Sports Editor
PUTNAMVILLE —Round two of “Indiana Midget Week” descended upon Lincoln Park Speedway Thursday evening as Bryan Clauson powered his way from a 10th-place starting spot to claim his 34th career win in the USAC Midget Division. Clauson is a two-time Honda National Midget champion and is coming off his second appearance in the Indianapolis 500.
Coming off his first career USAC National Midget victory Wednesday night at Gas City I-69 Speedway, Tanner Thorson powered his Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Toyota to the fast time in qualifying out of 42 entries. Thorson’s ran a 13.130, which was quick time ahead of Jerry Coons Jr. (13.203) and Thorson’s teammate Rico Abreu (13.237).
Colten Cottle, Steve Buckwalter, Chris Bell and Gage Walker were heat winners while Coons, Darren Hagen, Spencer Bayston and Hayden Williams all made the A-main through the semi-feature.
Tyler Thomas led the first couple of circuits from his pole spot, but Abreu was flying high along the cushion at the top of the Putnamville oval. He rocketed into the lead on the third lap and would hold that lead for the majority of the A-main. Behind him however, Thorson advanced into the second spot and had his sights set on a repeat.
Clauson was stalking the lead pack from the opening green flag and had moved up to the fourth spot when a caution flew. On the re-start, Clauson took over second with a slick move on Thorson and it appeared a thrilling battle was in the works.
Tracy Hines and Darren Hagen got past Thorson, whose night was taking a rapid turn for the worse. He would spin on lap 17 to bring out a caution as Chris Bell had moved into the top-five after starting back in 16th.
On the re-start, Clauson made his move for the lead with a big time slider coming into turn three that gave him the lead over Abreu. Bell slipped through the gap to get by Abreu for the second spot.
The field came to a halt shortly afterwards as Thorson clipped the front stretch wall and flipped wildly into turn one. He climbed out of the car under his own power before being held for observation.
With seven laps left in the A-main, Bell made one last shot at the lead, but Clauson held off the hard charging Oklahoman to get his first win of the season and the Curb Records – Dooling Machine #63 Spike/Stanton Mopar.
“This week is special to anybody, but especially to somebody like me who grew up here, the Midget Week and Sprintweek wins mean a lot. I don’t get to race full-time in this series now, but we’re trying to get this team an owner’s championship, too. Rusty (Kunz) has these things good, especially when things get slick and technical. We weren’t quite as good as those guys at the top of three and four, but we could move around and that gave us the chance to go by them. This place can get so technical, and you have to be close to perfect to have a chance. It’s a fun place, and a real driver’s race track,” Clauson said.
Bell came home second in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD #71 Bullet/Speedway Toyota a night after crashing at Gas City.
“It was a really tough deal tonight. It was so technical, and you couldn’t run it too hard and make mistakes with that curb being so firm. I didn’t get a good lap down in qualifying, and that buried us, but Bryan was back there pretty far too. I could use the bottom through one and two to get some guys, and we could roll the cushion nicely on the other end. We’ve had to pass a ton of cars in the last week, but we just have to be better early in the night,” Bell said.
Tracy Hines credited patience for his third-place run against many of the nation’s top midget drivers.
Hines took a 25-point lead into Friday’s “Indiana Midget Week” stop at Bloomington Speedway with another podium finish aboard the Parker Machinery – Turbines, Inc. #24 Spike/Stanton Toyota.
“Tonight was the difference between making good laps down low and trying to wait out the mistakes they made up high. They were a bit better, and we got back to about fifth at one point before taking advantage of some bobbles to get back to third. We had some things off for the race last night, but we got those fixed and had another good night tonight,” Hines said.
In the UMP Modified feature, Devin Gilpin powered away from Tyler Nicely over the second half of the race to pick up the victory as Bradley Sterrett took third ahead of Roy Bruce Jr. and Jay Humphrey Jr.
The sprint car A-main went to Kevin Thomas Jr., who held off a late challenge from Brady Short as Chad Boespflug placed third followed by Dave Darland, Brady Bacon and Bryan Clauson. Max McGhee, Jarrett Andretti, Shane Cottle and Brandon Mattox wrapped up the top-10.
Lincoln Park Speedway
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Bryan Clauson, 2. Christopher Bell, 3. Tracy Hines, 4. Rico Abreu, 5. Jerry Coons Jr., 6. Darren Hagen, 7. Tyler Thomas, 8. Chase Stockon, 9. Spencer Bayston, 10. Kevin Thomas Jr., 11. Davey Ray, 12. Gage Walker, 13. Hayden Williams, 14. Dave Darland, 15. Tony DiMattia, 16. Nathan Smee, 17. Alex Bright, 18. Brad Mosen, 19. Colten Cottle, 20. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 21. Tanner Thorson, 22. Ryan Bernal, 23. Tyler Courtney, 24. Steve Buckwalter.
**Bayston flipped during qualifying. DiMattia flipped during the first heat. Thorson flipped on lap 24 of the feature. Mosen flipped on lap 26 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 T.Thomas, Laps 3-21 Abreu, Laps 22-30 Clauson.
Sprint car feature
1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 2. Brady Short, 3. Chad Boespflug, 4. Dave Darland, 5. Brady Bacon, 6. Bryan Clauson, 7. Max McGhee, 8. Jarrett Andretti, 9. Shane Cottle, 10. Brandon Mattox, 11. Aaron Farney, 12. Scott Hampton, 13. Josh Hodges, 14. Chris Phillips, 15. Nate McMillin, 16. Jadon Rogers, 17. Frank Flud, 18. Shelby Vangilder, 19. Landon Simon, 20. Bill Rose
UMP Modified feature
1. Devin Gilpin, 2. Tyler Nicely, 3. Bradley Sterrett, 4. Roy Bruce Jr., 5. Jay Humphrey Jr., 6. Dan Lewellen, 7. Tyler Loughmiller, 8. Scott Ricketts, 9. Josh McDaniel, 10. Joe Godsey, 11. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 12. Gary Ricketts, 13. Jeff Deckard, 14. Brent Hudson, 15. JR Watkins, 16. Jake Humphrey, 17. Kenny Carmichael Sr.