USAC: Clauson Conducts Solomon Valley Clinic; Wins Second Chad McDaniel Memorial

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Bryan Clauson became the first two-time winner of the "Chad McDaniel Memorial" Wednesday night at Solomon Valley Raceway. (Rich Forman photo)

Bryan Clauson became the first two-time winner of the “Chad McDaniel Memorial” Wednesday night at Solomon Valley Raceway. (Rich Forman photo)

BELOIT, Kansas — Bryan Clauson’s magical 2016 season found the way to victory lane again on Wednesday night, as he became the first two-time winner of the Chad McDaniel Memorial for the USAC National Midget Championship at Solomon Valley Raceway.

Clauson worked his way from the fifth-starting spot to challenge Spencer Bayston for the lead in the final third of the race, making the winning pass with 11 laps to go after two consecutive dead-heats on laps 24 and 25 to take his 27th feature victory of the year (15th in USAC).

He also takes over the series’ point lead heading into the 39th running of the “Belleville Midget Nationals” this Friday and Saturday night.

At the drop of the green flag, pole sitter Spencer Bayston shot out to the lead on the bottom with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate Carson Macedo and Tucker Klaasmeyer trailing just behind. Fourth-starting Holly Shelton teetered off the edge of the banking between turns one and two on the opening lap, slipping back to the 11th spot by the conclusion of lap one.

The red flag flew for an incident on the fifth lap, when Tyler Thomas found himself spinning backwards between turns three and four. With nowhere to go, Cody Brewer — the promoter of the previous night’s event in Fairbury, Nebraska — plowed head-on in a nose-to-nose meeting with the sitting-duck Thomas, tipping Brewer onto his side after the contact.

Brewer walked away uninjured, but would not restart. Thomas would resume his race from the tail.

As Bayston continued to lead the way, hugging the infield tires on the bottom all the way around the quarter-mile dirt oval, a pair of Ryan’s dueled for the fifth position — Ryan Robinson and Ryan Greth.

On lap six, Greth went to the outside of Robinson between the third and fourth turns. Robinson’s front end stepped out from him, sending him ever so slightly up the racetrack as Greth ramped over the right rear tire of Robinson, sending himself airborne before landing on all fours and sliding gently backward into the outside turn four wall. Greth would restart from the tail.

Bayston and Macedo led a two-car breakaway on the ensuing restart, while 2014 event winner Clauson began to mount a charge on the topside as the majority of the front runners stuck to the bottom. On lap eight, though, Clauson swapped to the bottom to sneak underneath Klaasmeyer at the exit of turn four to grab third.

However, the action would once again come to a halt just one lap later after Anton Hernandez flipped wildly at the end of the front straightaway, landing a country-mile outside the turn one banking. Hernandez would walk away uninjured.

Clauson was now tucked behind the two front runners of the early portion of the event on the lap nine restart. Clauson continued to go to work a lane or two higher than Bayston and Macedo in the middle of the racetrack and was able to quickly reel in Macedo and blast by off the exit of turn four to take second at the stripe.

However, before the entire lap could be completed, a Matt Johnson/Jeff Stasa tangle between turns one and two negated Clauson’s pass, relegating him back behind Macedo on the restart.

After a sluggish start to the race that saw three cautions and two red flags in the opening 14 laps of the event, Clauson wan anxious to get going to the front, and that he did on lap 19 as he closed in on Macedo once again for second. Macedo, the leading series rookie out of Lemoore, California, drifted up the racetrack at the entrance of turn three, opening the door for Clauson to dart by on the bottom to grab second place.

Clauson’s sole focus was then on leader Bayston with 16 laps remaining. Clauson wasted no time carving into the advantage held by Bayston, the reigning series rookie of the year, as he ripped the high-side of the surface, banging off the cushion between turns one and two to get a run down the back straight that allowed him to pull even alongside Bayston entering turn three on lap 24.

The two remained side-by-side, wheel-to-wheel through the corner and off of turn four, resulting in a near dead-heat at the line with Bayston officially credited as the leader of the lap by the length of the radius of his front right wheel.

As the pair sped by the flag stand, Clauson carried his momentum into turn one with Bayston to his inside. Clauson used the top to perfection, jetting off the cushion down the banking to pull away to a three-car advantage on the back straight. However, Clauson got tight on the entry to turn three, shoving the nose of his machine up the racetrack just enough to allow Bayston to claw back underneath to edge ahead for a split-second, but Clauson gathered himself and gassed it back to the lead by a full wheel at the start/finish line with 11 to go.

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