Bryan Clauson

Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell place 1-2 in New Zealand midget race

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Kyle Larson bested Christopher Bell to win a 39-lap midget feature in Auckland, New Zealand, that paid tribute to the late Bryan Clauson.

Larson fended off Bell in a late shootout after a caution to win round five of the United Truck Parts International Midget Series.

It is Larson’s second win of the tour.

Bell started 19th and then flipped from contact with 32 laps to go while running 14th. After restarting 17th, the Xfinity Series driver fought his way back into second inside nine laps to go. A caution with six laps left set up the dash to the finish.

There is one 50-lap race left in the New Zealand tour.

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USAC Midget race will kickoff Brickyard 400 once more

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After a successful debut in 2018, the Driven2SaveLives BC39 USAC Midget race will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) in 2019.

The 39-lap race is held in honor of three-time USAC Midget and two-time USAC Sprint Car champion Bryan Clauson who lost his life in August 2016 following an accident at Belleville (KS) High-Banks Speedway.

Scheduled for Sept. 4-5 as the opening event of the Brickyard 400 weekend, the midget race will kick off five nights of racing.

Last year, Zeb Wise won the opening night’s Stoops Pursuit race with Brady Bacon taking the A-Main on night two.

Last year’s race featured 118 cars on the entry list. Representing NASCAR, Christopher Bell finished fifth in the feature. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was just outside the top 10 in 11th after winning his qualification race.

“The Driven2SaveLives BC39 … was a spectacular event for everyone involved, putting talented short track racers and teams from across America into a richly deserved spotlight,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said in a press release. “There were memories made for a lifetime both nights, and everyone at IMS is so happy to see this event return in 2019 as part of Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard weekend.

“We’re especially grateful that the BC39 raised so much awareness for the Driven2SaveLives campaign and honored the memory of Bryan Clauson, an extraordinary race driver who was an even better person.”

Clauson was a registered donor and following his accident, his organs helped save the life of five individuals.

“Right now, more than 115,000 men, women and children wait for a life-saving organ transplant,” said Kellie Hanner, Indiana Donor Network president and chief executive officer. “Each day, 22 patients die because the organ they needed did not become available in time. Our Driven2SaveLives campaign raises awareness around those who wait and honors donor heroes like Bryan Clauson who saved lives. All of us at Indiana Donor Network are proud to be a part of the BC39 again.”

Ticket reorders and new applications are being accepted through January 4, 2019 at IMS.com and through the IMS Ticket Office.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Christopher Bell among Indy midget entrants

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Christopher Bell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are among the NASCAR contingent entered for the USAC National Midget race Sept. 6 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

There are a record 118 entries for the Sept. 5-6 Driven2SaveLives BC 39 event that honors the late Bryan Clauson. The number of entries top the previous record of 109 for the final race at Ascot Park, California, in 1990.

Among those with NASCAR ties entered along with Bell and Stenhouse are Landon Cassill, J.J. Yeley and Chase Briscoe, who won the Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway in July.

Also entered is Logan Seavey, the 2017 POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget champion who finished eighth in his Truck debut at Eldora, Tanner Thorson, who has run five Truck races this season, former Xfinity driver Chad Boat and Karsyn Elledge, the granddaughter of seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt.

Sept. 5 will feature hot laps, heat races and a pursuit race. Sept. 6 will feature hot laps, qualifying races and a series of races setting the field for the A main, which will be 39 laps on the quarter-mile track. The 39 represents Clauson’s car number.

The event will feature more than $70,000 in purse and incentives, including $15,000 to the winner — the largest in Midget racing. This event will serve as a lead in for the Sept. 9 Cup regular-season finale at IMS. 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway announces format, purse for USAC Midget race

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced the format and purse for the Driven2SaveLives BC39 USAC Midget race that will be run in conjunction with the Brickyard 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event this fall.

The event is expected to draw a wide variety of dirt and paved racers, including Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Larson.

Two days of racing are on the calendar, with hot laps and heats run on September 5 and a series of Main events to be run September 6.

Ten-lap heat races will be filled by a random draw that determines both which heat a driver is in as well as starting position. Passing points will be earned during the heats and determine who will compete in Thursday’s series of Mains.

Thursday will feature an alphabet soup of Main events. If more than 87 cars are entered, a G Main will kick off the racing. It will include the drivers with the lowest number of passing points. The top-four finishers from that race, plus drivers 59th through 72nd in passing points, will then compete in an F Main with the top four drivers advancing to the next Main.

The top four drivers in each Main will advance to the next race.

The G, F and E Mains will be made up of 10 laps each. The D Main will consist of 12 laps, C-Main of 15 laps and the B-Main will be 20 laps.

The top-six finishers from the B-Main will advance to the A.

The A Feature will be 39 laps. It will have up to 26 starters – the top 16 drivers with the most accumulated passing points, plus six who advance from the B, two USAC provisional drivers (if needed) and two track options.

The unique distance of 39 laps is in honor of Bryan Clauson, who sported that number. Clauson lost his life in a Midget race in August 2016 at Belleville (Kansas) High Banks Speedway.

Featuring a $15,000-to-win payday, it will be the most lucrative event in Midget racing, which has several drivers looking for a car to run.

Indianapolis to add dirt track race to NASCAR weekend

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway plans to build a quarter-mile dirt track inside Turn 3 to run a USAC race to kick off the NASCAR weekend, the track’s president confirmed in reports by Racer and The Indianapolis Star.

The move is being made to connect the NASCAR event, which has seen a steady decline in attendance in the last decade, with race fans.

“The short-track community in a lot of ways is the heart and soul of racing across America,” Doug Boles, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway told The Indianapolis Star. “USAC midget racing, especially in the Midwest, is really strong and competitive, and attracts people like Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Rico Abreu when they have time to come race.

“So for us, we thought, is there away we could connect with that short track guy or gal, who spends their weekend at the local track on Saturday? And we thought this was good way to experiment with connecting with that fan base.”

IMS constructed a 3/16-mile flat dirt track inside Turn 3 in 2016 as a gift to Tony Stewart to celebrate his final Cup start at that track that year. Sarah Fisher and Bryan Clauson, who died from injuries suffered in a crash at the Belleville Midget Nationals about a month later, joined Stewart in running midget cars on that track.

Stewart ran about 20 laps. Even then, he looked ahead to the possibility of a dirt race at the Brickyard.

“If we get to actually watch a race here at IMS on a dirt track, that is going to be pretty awesome,’’ Stewart said that day. “They haven’t been able to do that for the first 100 years, but they can do it for the next 100.’’

The dirt track that IMS plans to construct for the NASCAR weekend will have 60-foot wide straights and 8-degree banking in the corners, according to Racer. The track plans to build bleachers to hold 5,000 fans. IMS began bringing in dirt Tuesday.

The date has yet to be announced for the event but both reports stated it would be the Thursday or Friday before the Sept. 9 Cup race at the track.

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