TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — official release — Gene Crucean photo — Bryan Clauson picked a fine time for his first victory at the Terre Haute Action Track, as he charged to the win in the Don Smith Classic presented by First Financial Bank on Wednesday night during Indiana Sprintweek.
For the two-time and defending AMSOIL Sprint Car champion, it was the third win of the year and 28th of his career, tying J.J. Yeley and Levi Jones for 12th all-time.
After multiple cars were late to staging for the feature, including scheduled front-row starter Dave Darland, Brady Bacon inherited the front row and got the jump for the lead, still looking for his first Terre Haute win, as well.
The point leader looked strong early, leading 2013 “Hulman Classic” winner Jerry Coons Jr. and ProSource Fast Qualifier of the night Robert Ballou in the early going.
Ballou took second from Coons just before the race’s only caution, on lap ten. After that, the Rocklin, California driver stepped up the pressure on Bacon. Bacon finally slipped up in turn four on lap 14, as Ballou drove to the top spot.
He brought Clauson with him, however, as the lead trio hit the halfway mark. Clauson wasted no time, securing the top spot on lap 17 and lengthening his advantage as they moved through traffic. Ballou closed back in a bit over the final laps, but Clauson was too strong, making a statement as Sprintweek goes past the halfway mark. He took the win in the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing – Chevy Performance No. 20 Beast/Kistler.
“I really did not expect this – I’ve always been hit and miss here. I knew in qualifying that we had a really good car. It was able to go all over, all night long. I just tried to get Robert moving around some – we knew we were in trouble with him after he qualified so well. To go head-to-head with guys like him and Brady, guys who are really good at places like this, it’s a big personal accomplishment. Bob East and Brad Mariscotti and this group have worked really hard to get us back to winning, and it’s a good time to be on an upswing. We knew we had to get through this night without losing too much, and we definitely did that,” Clauson said.
Ballou tallied his strongest finish of the year, coming home a strong second in the Ballou Motorsports – Deaton’s Waterfront Services No. 12x Maxim/Ott.
“I was rolling the middle pretty good and caught Brady through there. I saw Bryan working underneath me, and I knew I probably wasn’t good enough. I probably went a little too hard on my tires early. I moved around a little and he got by me. By the time I was catching him a little with traffic, he was gonna have to make a major mistake for me to have a chance. Usually, you get a few cautions here to let you get another chance at it, and wouldn’t you know tonight dang near goes green to checkered,” Ballou said.
Bacon held on for third, keeping the leaders in sight as he added to his point lead in the Hoffman Auto Racing – Mean Green No. 69 Triple X/Williams Mopar.
“We’ve been on the podium here every time I’ve raced for the Hoffmans, but unfortunately we haven’t gotten a win yet. I felt a bit like a sitting duck, running the high side like that and not knowing for sure if I needed to leave it. Usually, even when it feels slow, it’s still the place to be. I still felt better than them on the top through one and two, but once you lose it, there’s no way to get them back,” Bacon said.
Sprintweek point leader Chris Windom kept up his consistent week by finishing fourth with Brady Short fifth.