BELLEVILLE, Ill. — Bryan Clauson passed Jerry Coons Jr. for the lead with less than three laps remaining and drove on to victory in the feature of the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series, Honda USAC National Midget Dirt Series, Badger Midgets tri-sanctioned event Saturday at Belle-Clair Speedway.
Clauson had started fourth in the Bryan Clauson/Curb-Agajanian Racing Spike Esslinger and passed Brad Kuhn for second on the 18th of 30 laps. The 24-year-old chased Coons’ Joe Dooling-owned Spike-Esslinger until finding an opening on the 28th lap.
“I wanted to make sure I timed it right,” Clauson said. “I didn’t want to let him come back and get into trading slide jobs and let somebody from the bottom get in front. I got a run out of turn two and drove into turn three as hard as I could to get to the cushion. Our car was right with him most of the race and had the speed to do it.
“He (Coons) was pretty good up there and I didn’t want to let him know I was there. I didn’t show him my nose until I knew I could make it stick. The race really came down to minimizing mistakes and we had the car to do it.”
It was Clauson’s 19th victory in POWRi Midgets and 27th in USAC Midgets.
“We had to battle tooth and nail,” Clauson said. “It’s a huge win. We’ve had a little bit of a slow start, we haven’t been quite as strong as we want to be”
Coons started on the outside of the front row and took the lead exiting turn two on the opening lap He led until Clauson passed him.
“Sometimes, you just get beat and we just got beat,” Coons said. “I made a couple of mistakes. I really wish I could have won, but we’ll take second. I just kinda got in the cushion a little too much coming off the corner and bobbled enough for him to get a run. There was nothing I could do — that was a perfect slide job where he was far enough by me that I couldn’t turn and go back past him. I was trying to minimize mistakes and felt like I did better towards the end, but that one bobble was enough.”
Kuhn finished third for the second straight night in the Belleville Bash. He started on the pole in the Mason Cook-owned Beast-Fontana, ran second for the opening 17 laps, but fell back to sixth before mounting a late charge.
“We were absolutely horrible in the middle of the race,” Kuhn said. “The caution (prior to a lap 23 restart) saved us. I dialed in some shock adjustments and we kept getting faster and faster.”
Tracy Hines drove the inside line and was a close fourth in his Toyota-powered Spike and Chris Bell’s Bullet-Toyota was fifth.
Cale Thomas led all 20 laps to win the feature in POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series.
The 15-year-old started and pole and was in control the entire distance to several car lengths in front of runner-up Nic Harris.