OCALA, Fla. — Only three drivers in the history of the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series have won three consecutive series championships, but Bryan Clauson will be trying to join that group when the season opens Thursday night at Bubba Raceway Park.
After recovering from four missed races due to other commitments to win his first championship with the Corey Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian Racing No. 7 in 2012, Clauson stepped into the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing No. 20 for 2013 and picked up where he left off.
Seven wins each season and both championships now present him with the opportunity to join Steve Butler, Robbie Stanley and Levi Jones as the only drivers to claim three-straight championships.
“Walking into an organization like that, where they have a tradition of winning championships, is a lot of pressure,” Clauson said. “To step in and go through the process, with the downs and ups of the season, it was satisfying and a lot of fun to work ourselves into form and contend for the championship. I’m excited about some changes we made through last season and in the offseason, so hopefully we can come out even stronger and defend it.”
The TSR operation was no stranger to success and championships, as Jones won four-of-five championships before Clauson broke through in 2012. The 2013 season posed a legitimate test, however, as the team saw changes in nearly every area. In addition to the change in the seat, only Brad Mariscotti remained from the crew. The team switched Beast chassis and car builder Bob East and Warren Beard completed the crew.
The team got on a roll with back-to-back victories to open Indiana Sprint Week and rode them to the series championship. By the time Clauson won at I-30 Speedway in early September, he had tied Dave Darland for the point lead.
Clauson was steady down the stretch to win his fourth USAC national championship. He already owned two midget titles.
It was the first sprint car title for East, who has achieved numerous titles in both midget and Silver Crown competition as crew chief and team manager.
“The sprint car title was definitely a focus, after we got going,” East said. “It was the only one that I hadn’t won, and I wanted to do that. It was a lot of fun; it’s the first series in so long where I had no other cars (chassis customers) competing, so I could totally concentrate on our team. It was a great group to race with. We believed in each other, and confidence makes a big difference.”
Clauson is 16th all-time with 25 USAC national sprint car triumphs.
“I always dreamed of working with Bob, but never really thought it would be on the sprint car side,” Clauson said. “When I was coming up, he was king of the midgets. To have an opportunity to work with him and get the chance to win the sprint car championship with him was cool. The chemistry he and Brad had, being friends even outside of racing, helped a lot. Bob wasn;t necessarily supposed to work with us all year, but after Ocala it was obvious that we would be good together.”
As the top six teams from last season remain intact for 2014, Clauson knows a target will be on them as they try to defend the crown with their Chevrolet Performance – Curb No. 20 Beast/Kistler.
“It looks like the national sprint car bunch is as strong as I can remember it being, and we know that other teams have gotten better in the off-season, so we’ll have to start a little quicker and be even better than last year to do it again,” Clauson concluded.