Clauson Claims Winter Challenge Opener

Bryan Clauson
Bryan Clauson

PEORIA, Ariz. — Reigning USAC National Sprint Car champion Bryan Clauson kicked off the 2013 wingless sprint-car season by winning Wednesday night’s 30-lap USAC Southwest vs. USAC West Coast main event as the Winter Challenge finally got under way atop the third-mile Canyon Speedway Park clay oval.

After Mother Nature washed out the initial trio of scheduled events this past weekend, Clauson redrew the front row outside of the main event after winning his heat race and led all the way to collect the $2,000 winner’s share aboard Mike Martin’s No. 16b machine, the same car that he drove to victory lane in last November’s Western World Championships.

While Clauson took victory honors in the sprint car ranks, Anthony Madrid parked in victory lane in IMCA Modified action.

Clauson was chased to the stripe by multi-time Arizona champion Jeremy Sherman, who advanced from eighth, with pole starter Bruce St. James claiming the show position. Richard Vander Weerd raced from the 20th starting position to fourth at the finish, with Mike Martin rounding out the top five. Defending Arizona champion Charles Davis Jr., advanced from deep in the field as well by racing from 17th to sixth.

The red flag waved 16 laps into the Sprint Car feature for an incident that forced Jace Vander Weerd and Michael Curtis pitside, with third-runner Robert Ballou flipping the Hockett Racing mount in turn one soon after.

In the IMCA Modified ranks, Madrid raced from the ninth starting position to win the 25-lap feature in front of William Gould with Tim Ward climbing from 15th to claim the show position. Jesse Sobbing, the 2012 IMCA Northern Sport Mod National champion was fourth, with 2012 track points runner-up Jason Noll rounding out the top five.

The finish:

Bryan Clauson, Jeremy Sherman, Bruce St. James, Richard Vander Weerd, Mike Martin, Charles Davis Jr., Colby Copeland, Jon Stanbrough, Andrew Reinbold, Bud Kaeding, Thomas Ogle, Lonnie Oliver, Tom Lee, Rick Ziehl, Stevie Sussex, Robert Ballou, Josh Pelkey, Jace Vander Weerd, Michael Curtis, Mike Morin, Kevin Thomas Jr., Brian Hosford.