JACKSONVILLE, Ill. – Bryan Clauson has won a lot of races in a lot of different types of open wheel cars, but until Friday night he had never won in a winged 410 sprint car.
That all changed in a race for the ages, oddly enough with another non-wing regular Christopher Bell, as the pair battled to the bitter end at the front of the Midwest Open Wheel Association’s Herb Barlow Memorial, at Jacksonville Speedway.
Bell won the MOWA Dash, with Clauson finishing second, which set the pair up for front row side-by-side starting positions in the feature event. At the drop of the green, the only yellow of the race came when Jeremy Standridge, Robbie Standridge and others got together coming off turn two. Standridge was out after the incident, as was Jimmy Hurley who was caught up in the melee as well.
With an original restart to follow, the now 18 car field ran the entire 25 laps green-to-checker the rest of the way making for one of the most exciting races in series history. Bell jumped out to the lead on the first start, but on the re-start, Clauson used the high line off turn two to hold the lead for the hoping half of the event, with Bell giving chase and making several slide job attempts with no success.
Clauson would lead until just past the half-way point, when Bell got by in lapped traffic in turns three and four.
From lap seven on the front pair was mired in heavy lapped traffic, as the track began to take a little rubber throughout the race. Even with it taking rubber, it seemed to be fast from top to bottom especially in different areas of the racetrack.
Hull began to real in the lead pair with about four laps to go, and was within striking distance for the final three circuits.
At the wave of the green flag Clauson, who was then running second drove the car deeper into the high side of turn one than he had the entire night and was almost side-by-side with Bell as they exited turn two. By the time the pair made it to the white flag, they were running wheel to wheel.
Clauson again barreled into turn one and came out of turn two with a lead, but this time it was Bell’s turn to take it deep into turn three on the low side. The pair came out of turn four with Clauson holding a slight advantage on the high side.
As they worked down the front stretch to the start finish line they began to make contact, at the stripe Bell and Clauson came together, with right front tire of Bell’s car hopping the left front tire of Clauson’s machine just past the start-finish line in as close of a finish as fans could ask for.
For Clauson, it was his first career winged win in a 410 sprint car, and for Rick Pollick, the car owner, it was his first trip to victory lane with MOWA in 2013. In fact, Pollick and his crew worked all day Thursday to build the power-plant used in the 21x machine, and then took all day Friday to get the car ready.
For Bell, it was disappointment, as he was as close as you could get to a win without getting it, and had to settle for second. He was leading the POWRi Midge race right before the sprint car feature, and lost it with only a handful of laps remaining as well.
The highest finishing MOWA regular, Hull, had a birds eye view of the last lap events, and talked about it after the race as the top three posed for pictures on the front stretch.
“It was a heck of a battle,” Hull said. “They were beating on each other, and I was just thinking I may when this thing, because they might just take each other out.”
Joey Moughan finished in the fourth spot, while A.J. Bruns rounded out the top 5.