INDIANAPOLIS — Friday night’s 58th USAC “Night of Champions” National Awards Dinner held at the Indiana Roof spotlighted four drivers who claimed national championships.
Bobby East, Bryan Clauson and Darren Hagen repeated as titlists, while rookie Christopher Bell earned his first USAC national crown.
East was the 2013 TRAXXAS Silver Crown champ, while Clauson repeated as the AMSOIL National Sprint Car king. Hagen (pavement) and Bell (dirt) prevailed in the Honda National Midget Series.
Car owner champions for 2013 celebrated Friday were Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian for the Traxxas Silver Crown and AMSOIL National Sprint Car series, Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian as the Honda National Dirt Midget champs and RFMS Motorsports as the top owner in the Honda National Dirt Midget series. Acknowledged as repeat National “Triple Crown” car owners were Mike Curb and Cary Agajanian.
Keys to the City of Indianapolis from Mayor Gregory A. Ballard were presented to East, Clauson, Bell and Hagen in recognition of their championships.
Among items presented to the champions were trophies, plaques, Oakley timepieces, Hoosier jackets, medallions, and personalized remote-control trucks and TRAXXAS cars.
Sprint car driving champions in addition to the aforementioned included Damion Gardner (AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprints), Danny Faria Jr. (West Coast Sprints), R.J. Johnson (Southwest Sprints) and Ryan Bernal (Western Classic Sprints).
Other champions included Ronnie Gardner (Honda Western Midgets), Chad Nichols (Western Pavement Midget), Joe Krawiec (DMA Midget), Gage Walker (HPD Midwest Dirt Ignite Midget), Cooper Clouse (HPD Midwest Pavement Ignite Midget), Jarid Blondel (HPD Western Ignite Midget), Bryant Dawson (HPD Western Pavement Ignite Midget), Cory Elliott (HPD Western Dirt Ignite Midget), Chris Lamb (HPD Eastern Ignite Midget) and Chase Goetz (HPD Washington Ignite Midget). Drivers Garrett Saunders (Restricted) and Billy Cribbs (Open) were lauded as champions of USAC’s inaugural TRAXXAS 600 Sprint Series.
Honored as USAC Honda .25 Midget National Champions as a result of their “Generation Next Tour” titles were pavement drivers Tyler Ankrum (Heavy 160, Senior Animal, Light World Formula and Heavy AA), Todd Gilliland (Heavy World Formula), Brandon Grosso (Heavy Honda), Light 160 and Light AA), Andrew Molleur (Light Mod), Jake Nelke (Unrestricted Animal), Justin Oplinger (Junior Honda), Chase Randall (Junior Animal) and Famous Rhodes (Senior Honda).
Dirt champions honored were Calvin Carroll (Light Mod), Briggs Danner (Senior Honda and light World Formula), Brittany Erlsten (Heavy Honda and Heavy World Formula), Hanna Flood (Heavy 160), Andrew Layser (Light 160), Kenny Miller (Senior Animal) and Steven Snyder Jr. (Junior Honda and Junior Animal).
USAC President Kevin Miller presented USAC Special Appreciation Awards to SFI Foundation (corporate) and David Abreu (individual) for their contributions and dedicated service to the racing community.
Dave Darland of Lincoln, Ind. received the inaugural Jason Leffler Award, in recognition of his intense appreciation of the sport’s history reflected in his professionalism and outstanding representation as an ambassador of the United States Auto Club, exhibiting the same standard of ideals upheld by the late Jason Leffler during his USAC racing career.
Longtime USAC employee and supporter Bill Marvel was presented USAC’s prestigious Roger McCluskey Award of Excellence, recognizing his commitment to the overall sport of auto racing and his numerous contributions to USAC.
USAC’s 2013 National “Race Organizer of the Year” award was presented to the Belleville (Kan.) High Banks Race Committee.
Car owner and long-time USAC supporter Mike Curb revealed the winner of the resurrected “Mike Curb Super License Award” and its $5,000 cash bonus. Tracy Hines earned the most points of all drivers participating in USAC’s 2013 National racing series.
Chris Windom earned the 2013 USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year honor. Tyler Courtney was honored as the National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year and the Bob Stroud Memorial National Midget Rookie of the Year Award for the National Midget Series went to Bell.
Kevin Thomas Jr. was named USAC “Most Improved” National Driver.
USAC’s “Mechanical Achievement of the Year” award went to Steve Phillips, who guided Dave Darland’s drive to the runner-up position in the AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series.
Also honored for their hampionships at Kutztown, Pa.’s ActionTrack USA, which operated under the USAC banner were Kenny Brightbill (Sunoco SpeedSTRs), Jay Hartman (Pioneer Pole Buildings 600 Micro Sprints), Danny Buccafusca (NAPA AllStar Slingshots) and Ross Perchak (270 Micro Sprints).