Santos Muscles By Clauson In Desert

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By Gaye Carmichael

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Bobby Santos muscled his way past Bryan Clauson on the final lap to win Thursday night’s USAC Mopar National Midget Car Series feature during the 34th annual Copper Classic at Phoenix Int’l Raceway.

Fast-qualifier Bobby East led the first seven laps of the one-mile oval, but Clauson took control on lap eight and seemed to have the race in hand.

But Santos closed the gap and took the lead on lap 23. Clauson, though, battled back, pushing Marc DeBeaumont’s No. 11d back into the lead on lap 24.

The pair appeared to make contact entering turn three on the final lap and Clauson slid up the track falling to 18th at the checkered flag, while Santos cruised to his third USAC midget victory of the season in the Santos Motorsports Esslinger Ford.

“I drove a hard race. I drove as hard as I could. It was exciting,” Santos said. “We (Clauson and Santos) passed back and forth, a lot. I certainly didn’t need that last caution flag. He (Clauson) didn’t like my pass and he kind of bumped me at the end. I’m excited. I had won almost every other paved track but this one. This is special.”

East came on to finish second with Alex Bowman third. Point-leader Brad Kuhn was fourth and extended his lead to 40 points over Brad Sweet. Cole Whitt finished fifth.

The summary:
Qualifications:
  1. Bobby East, Klatt 4, 26.310;
  2. Bryan Clauson, DeBeaumont 11d, 26.444;
  3. Bobby Santos III, Santos 98, 26.509;
  4. Cole Whitt, Kunz 1, 26.528;
  5. Kody Swanson, Western Speed 40, 26.539;
  6. Alex Bowman, Bowman 55, 26.645;
  7. Jason Leffler, Western Speed 45, 26.647;
  8. Tanner Swanson, DeBeaumont 51, 26.690;
  9. Brad Kuhn, RW 17b, 26.739;
10. Tracy Hines, Loyet 05, 26.757;
11. Shane Hmiel, Kunz 97, 26.827;
12. Dakoda Armstrong, C & A 7a, 26.876;
13. Chad Boat, Boat 30, 26.878;
14. Caleb Armstrong, C & A 7c, 26.892;
15. Henry Clarke, Kunz 67, 27.019;
16. Darren Hagen, RFMS 3, 27.066;
17. Davey Hamilton, Rev 1 8, 27.094;
18. Adam Kramer, Kramer 2, 27.108;
19. Cole Carter, Carter 7, 27.167;
20. Levi Roberts, DeBeaumont 2d, 27.215;
21. Jerry Coons, Jr., Wilke-Pak 11, 27.269;
22. Brad Sweet, Kahne/Curb 49, 27.401;
23. Garrett Hansen, Hansen 70, 27.521;
24. Cale Conley, Conley 3c, 27.552;
25. Brad Loyet, Loyet 05h, 27.571;
26. Jerome Rodela, Rodela 25, 27.679;
27. Nick Wagner, Wagner 93, 28.088;
28. Zach Daum, Daum 5d, 28.436;
29. Sean Murphy, Polisczuk 8x, 28.889.

Feature (25 laps): Santos, East, Bowman, Kuhn, Whitt, Leffler, Hines, Daum, Swanson, Hagen, Hmiel, Clarke, Kramer, Sweet, Coons, Rodela, Boat, Clauson, D. Armstrong, Roberts, Conley, C. Armstrong, Hamilton, Hansen, Murphy, Wagner, Carter, Swanson, Loyet.