DUQUOIN, Ill. — Bryan Clauson won 26 features in midgets and sprint cars in national events and his second straight USAC National Sprint Car championship this year.
“The best season of my career,” he said.
Clauson’s extraordinary campaign continues Saturday with the opportunity to add a victory in an all-star style event in the fourth Great Clips Battle at the Center presented by K&N Filters, a non-points event organized by the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series on the Mini Magic Mile at the Southern Illinois Center.
Clauson won the Battle at the Center, held on the grounds of the DuQuoin State Fair, in 2011. The 24-year-old from Noblesville, Ind., was running second to eventual winner Tony Stewart a year ago when contact seven laps from the checkered flag took him out of contention. Clauson finished eighth.
“It’s a very tough event and it’s nice to be back in it,” Clauson said. “Racing at Du Quoin is always a lot of fun. It’s a tight, little (one-sixth mile) bullring, POWRi prepares the surface really, really.well and here are a lot of great guys in it. Everybody struts their stuff for the Chili Bowl. The track is a little bit different, but you kind of get that indoor feel and see guys who haven’t run with us (midgets) all year.”
The Battle at the Center is a partial preview of the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl, held in January in Tulsa, Okla. The Chili Bowl has more than 250 entrants. The Battle at the Center will have about 60.
Clauson will be driving an Esslinger-powered Spike in his first event for car owner Joe Dooling, who will field Clauson’s midgets next year.
“I’m excited about my new gig with Joe Dooling,” Clauson said. “It will be good to get that kicked off.”
Clauson has four wins in POWRi Midgets in 2013, raising his career total to 22. He is tied for second on the all-time list with Brad Kuhn of Avon, Ind. Clauson’s USAC career includes the 2011 Midget National title and three straight (2010-12) National Driver Championships.
“This has been a great year with 26 wins,” Clauson said. “Sometimes you have years like that, sometimes you have years you can’t do anything right. Fortunately, we were on the right side of things this year.”
Other drivers entered for the Battle at the Center include Chris Bell, USAC’s Honda National Dirt Midget champion this year who also won four features in POWRi, 2012 POWRi National Midget champion Andrew Felker, two-time POWRi National Midget champion Kuhn, USAC Triple Crown champion Jerry Coons Jr. and POWRi feature winners Nick Knepper, Austin Brown, Darren Hagen, Danny Stratton, Tyler Thomas and Terry Babb.
Drivers entered who have excelled in other types of racing include three-time American Sprint Car Series champion Tim Crawley of Benton, Ark., dirt late model’s Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., and micro sprint racer Chris Andrews of Tulsa, Okla.