LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Bryan Clauson came out on top in the first feature for the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series at I-30 Speedway.
After setting fast time before being rained out last year, Clauson worked his way around early leader Kyle Cummins to take a hard-fought win in the 40-lapper.
Cummins led from the pole as Clauson worked an outside line to work his way by Tracy Hines for the second spot. From there, he continued to assault the extreme outside groove until he caught the middle through turn-four on lap eight to take the lead.
Kevin Thomas Jr. started from row three and followed Clauson to the front as the duo briefly raced side in the early laps. Thomas finally cleared Cummins for second around the halfway point, as the two leaders checked out on the rest of the field.
A final twelve-lap green flag run saw the two patiently navigate the bottom as Clauson hung on for his 23rd career sprint car feature win, and fifth this season, by .672-seconds in the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing – Chevy Performance No. 20 Beast/Kistler.
“Early on, I jumped up there just to see what would happen, and slowly made some runs. The restarts were key to give us a chance with them packed up to make a run at those guys. Our Chevrolet Performance car was really good, and we knew we’d have to be pretty tight to be able to move around and make something work. The championship is a game of runs, and tonight we put a lot of points on the board, and it should be a fun road to the end,” Clauson said.
Thomas stopped his recent slump with a podium finish in the Rotondo Weirich – Black Jack Oil Company No. 17rw Maxim/Fisher.
“It was a test of patience tonight. Right at the start, the top was just hanging on by a thread. It was really thin, so you had to be careful up there. Once we got to 1-2, there wasn’t much to do with the leader. We’ve had some rough nights lately, so it’s good to bounce back,” Thomas said.
After falling back in the early laps, Brady Bacon stuck to the top-side and closed on two cars racing the bottom in the final few laps, getting a big run off the turn-four cushion to barely nab third at the line in the Hoffman Auto Racing – Mean Green No. 69 Triple X/Stanton Mopar.
“The top had a good cushion in three and four, but it was just really far around. I stayed up there, and we barely nicked him at the line for third. We rode around for a few there, and obviously weren’t going to pass them down there. I actually felt a little better on the top as hard as the bottom was to run. I thought I had a chance to gain something, and once we got the momentum going, we were pretty good. We were able to work through the middle a few times, too,” Bacon said.
Cummins held on for fourth and local favorite Tim Crawley finished fifth.