Ocala, Florida…….Defending AMSOIL Sprint Car National Champion Bryan Clauson let it be known that his title defense will be strong as he finished “Winter Dirt Games V” in Ocala, Florida with a win in Saturday’s 30-lap feature. The Noblesville, Indiana driver’s 26th career win put him into a tie for 14th with Tony Elliott and Dave Steele.
Ione, California’s Justin Grant got the jump and held the lead as Chase Stockon vaulted from row two to second. Clauson stuck the bottom on the opening corner and came out of the fray in third. Just after, Stockon lost the front-end while applying pressure to Grant and watched Clauson move underneath for the runner-up spot.
Clauson hounded Grant for the remainder of the race, which included six restarts over the course of the race. At one point, Clauson drew even through three and four, but Grant fought him off as he pulled a wheelstand down the frontstretch and shut the door into turn one.
The winning move finally came on the final restart, as Grant bobbled in turn-one and then charged into turn-three to hold his lead, only to see Clauson pivot to the bottom of turn-four and pull past him to the flagstand. Clauson was unchallenged from there, winning aboard the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing – Chevy Performance #20 Beast/Kistler.
“I just needed to get my nose in there and put pressure on him and try to force a mistake. Justin did a great job, but we were definitely better on restarts. He made just a couple mistakes under green and I wasn’t there to get him. We finally forced his hand enough to get him. It’s a huge start to the year for us, to be in contention on both nights with two very different surfaces,” Clauson said.
Grant finished second, capping off a solid trip with two top-fives in his first nights back with the Mark Hery Racing – S&H Nerf Bars #40 DRC/Claxton.
“I was trying. We hung tough for about as long as we could. The restarts were just killing me. The last one, I just hit the hole a little in turn-one, and that was all it took to give him a shot. I raced it down to three until he finally got me off four. It’s great to be back with this bunch and feel like my old self again,” Grant said.
Stockon recovered from his early issues to draw away from the rest of the field and securely finish third in the Superior Tank & Trailer – Crescent Electric Supply #32 DRC/Fisher.
“We’re definitely happy to come out of Florida again with a couple top-fives. We kinda fought handling problems some down here this year, and we went back to some of our old notes from here for the feature, but it was just a little snug. We were better without the cautions, so those hurt us. But we’re satisfied to be picking up where we left off last year with the Superior Tank & Trailer Fisher-powered DRC,” Stockon said.
Dave Darland finished fourth in the Phillips Motorsports – Racer’s Advantage Store #71P DRC/Foxco, while Robert Ballou bounced back from a flip on Thursday to finish fifth in the Ballou Motorsports – Butlerbuilt Seat Systems #12 Maxim/Ott.
Kody Swanson began the night by setting the ProSource “Fast Time Award” aboard the DePalma Motorsports #63.
AMSOIL USAC SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: February 22, 2014 – Ocala, Florida – Bubba Raceway Park – “Winter Dirt Games V”
QUALIFYING: 1. Kody Swanson, 63, DePalma-14.261; 2. Hunter Schuerenberg, 20N, Schuerenberg/Nolen-14.345; 3. Chris Windom, 11, Walker-14.367; 4. Bryan Clauson, 20, Stewart/Curb-Agajanian-14.375; 5. Shane Cockrum, 66, Wade-14.410; 6. Tracy Hines, 4, Hines-14.434; 7. Carson Short, 21, Short-14.697; 8. Chase Stockon, 32, 32/TBI-14.712; 9. Dave Darland, 71P, Phillips-14.750; 10. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-14.755; 11. Justin Grant, 40, Hery-14.820; 12. Logan Jarrett, 29, Jarrett-14.847; 13. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 17RW, Dutcher/RW/TriStar-14.890; 14. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-14.910; 15. Jon Stanbrough, 37RW, Dutcher/RW/TriStar-14.936; 16. Aaron Farney, 15F, Farney-14.987; 17. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti Autosport Short Track-15.001; 18. Mark Smith, 1M, Mach1-15.010; 19. Mitch Wissmiller, 1, Wissmiller-15.126; 20. Travis Hery, 21H, Hery-15.129; 21. Dalten Gabbard, 5, Baldwin-15.170; 22. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-15.205; 23. Shane Cottle, 2E, Epperson-15.291; 24. Casey Shuman, 21x, Pollock-15.369; 25. Chris Jones, 59, Powell-15.405; 26. Nathan Moore, 48, Moore-15.612; 27. Derek Hastings, 32M, Marshall-15.816; 28. Matt Westfall, 54, Best Performance-16.107; 29. Steve Irwin, 2M, Marshall-16.125; 30. Collin Cabre, 12c, Cabre-16.147; 31. Mike Weber, 22, Weber-16.658; 32. Frank Carlsson, 20x, Carlsson-16.765.
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Darland, 2. Gabbard, 3. Andretti, 4. Swanson, 5. Thomas, 6. Cockrum, 7. Irwin, 8. Jones. 1:59.14
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Smith, 2. Bacon, 3. Leary, 4. Ballou, 5. Hines, 6. Moore, 7. Cabre, 8. Schuerenberg. NT
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Cottle, 2. Wissmiller, 3. Grant, 4. Stanbrough, 5. Windom, 6. Short, 7. Hastings, 8. Weber. NT
FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Clauson, 2 .Shuman, 3. Jarrett, 4. Stockon, 5. Hery, 6. Farney, 7. Carlsson, 8. Westfall. 1:56.22
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Hines, 2. Cockrum, 3. Short, 4. Thomas, 5. Windom, 6. Schuerenberg, 7. Farney, 8. Hery, 9. Cabre, 10. Hastings, 11. Irwin, 12. Carlsson, 13. Moore, 14. Jones, 15. Weber. 3:01.02
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Bryan Clauson, 2. Justin Grant, 3. Chase Stockon, 4. Dave Darland, 5. Robert Ballou, 6. Tracy Hines, 7. Chris Windom, 8. Shane Cottle, 9. Jon Stanbrough, 10. Brady Bacon, 11. Kody Swanson, 12. Casey Shuman, 13. Jarett Andretti, 14. Shane Cockrum, 15. Logan Jarrett, 16. C.J. Leary, 17. Mark Smith, 18. Dalten Gabbard, 19. Carson Short, 20. Hunter Schuerenberg, 21. Mitch Wissmiller, 22. Kevin Thomas, Jr. NT
**Schuerenberg flipped in Heat 2.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-22 Grant, Laps 23-30 Clauson.
NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Clauson-127; 2-Darland-121; 3-Stockon-118; 4-Hines-117; 5-Grant-114; 6-Bacon-111; 7-Cottle-106; 8-Stanbrough-87; 9-Windom-84; 10-Ballou-74.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: April 5 – Lawrenceburg, Indiana – Lawrenceburg Speedway