BELOIT, Kan. — Bryan Clauson used a mid-race restart to sneak past Zach Daum for the lead and eventual victory in Tuesday’s fifth annual Chad McDaniel Memorial at Solomon Valley Raceway.
Clauson moved to eighth on his own with his 32nd all-time Honda National Midget win and his second of the season.
Michael Pickens got the jump on the field and led the opening lap from outside the front-row. Pickens ripped the high side of the track as polesitter Daum searched lower on the track. Clauson was dealing with Tanner Thorson for third as defending National Midget champ Christopher Bell spun in turn-four on lap 10 to bring out the first caution.
Daum was on the attack after the restart, finally moving underneath Pickens for the lead as they exited turn four on lap 12. Pickens fell back into a battle with Thorson for the second spot, as Daum drew away. Thorson took the spot, but as the duo raced back into turn one, Thorson spun through the slick and Pickens had nowhere to go. The two went to the tail for the lap-18 restart.
Clauson inherited the second spot and took advantage of the opportunity, jumping to the inside of Daum as the leader pushed the nose through turns three and four. The lead pair was nearly even at the line on lap 19 before Clauson cleared him off turn two.
Another quick caution brought an opportunity for Daum to turn the tables, but Clauson was too strong out front, bringing home the win in the Westin Fairbury Packaged Meats – Curb Records No. 63 Spike/Esslinger.
“The opportunity to restart second gave us a shot, and we put a great lap together just as Zach messed up just a little off turn four,” Clauson explained. “The timing couldn’t have been better. I knew we’d get better as the race went on, but I made some mistakes early on, especially moving around. It was tough to hit good laps back in traffic. This is a cool race to win, and we’ll try to take the momentum into Belleville.”
Daum held on for second in the Daum Crop Insurance – Weld Wheels No. 5d Eagle/Stanton Toyota.
“I’ve run up front in this a lot, seconds and thirds, and this is one I wanna win. I’d really like to win this race, just because Chad was such a great guy and we liked racing with him so much,” Daum said. “But we had a good run. The cautions didn’t work out for me. I pushed up a bit the restart before, and you just can’t make the same mistake twice running against these guys.”
Tracy Hines rounded out the podium in the Parker Machinery – Turbines, Inc. No. 24 Spike/Stanton Toyota.
“We had one stint I thought we had something, but I messed up once and it was too hard to catch back up. I probably didn’t do enough to get it to pull off the corner, and it was tough to get through the bumps. It was fun to run well with just my wife and I and a buddy coming to help,” Hines said.
Bell and point leader Rico Abreu rounded out the top five.