Wayne City, Illinois…….Bryan Clauson fended off Rico Abreu in another legendary duel between the two, banking $20,000 in the third-annual “Jason Leffler Memorial” at Wayne County Speedway on Friday night. The Noblesville, Indiana knocked off his next crown jewel victory by fending off repeated advances from Abreu the entire latter half of the 40-lap Feature for the Honda National Midget Series co-sanctioned by POWRi.
Clauson led from the front row with Kevin Thomas, Jr. in tow, as polesitter Justin Peck slowed on lap three to bring out the initial caution flag. From there, the race went all the way to halfway under green, with Abreu tracking down Thomas, Jr. in traffic to take over second.
Abreu worked up his momentum after the restart, finally getting a run on Clauson as they completed lap 27, throwing a turn-one slidejob for the lead. Clauson countered it to keep the lead, but Abreu came back the next lap to throw a turn-three slidejob for the lead.
Clauson came right back at him, though, edging into the lead at the close of lap thirty before Abreu threw yet another turn-one slidejob. Clauson crossed it over once again and hit the bottom of turns three and four to complete lap 31 in the lead. Seventh-running Tanner Thorson spun to bring out a caution with nine to go.
Tyler Thomas brought out a red flag a lap later, but he was unhurt. After the restart, Abreu gave it another shot with a turn-one move underneath Clauson on lap 33. Clauson cleared him again, and this time he slipped away from Abreu. He appeared on his way to victory, but a red flag for Dereck King was displayed as he was taking the white flag. King walked away.
Abreu gave it one last ditch effort on the final lap, but he came up just short in turn-two as Clauson powered past with his 36th career National Midget win aboard the Jonathan Byrd’s Racing – B&H Contractors #63 Spike/Stanton Mopar for car owner Joe Dooling and crew chief Rusty Kunz.
“This is a race that means a lot to everybody in the pit area. I’m sure Rico would say the same, and we’ve raced each other a lot for big wins the past few years.
That was about as much fun as I’ve had in a long time, but there was a lot of money on the line, too, so it was pretty stressful. It felt like we swapped the lead a bunch of times, and I was able to pass him back each time and break his momentum before he got away. It was a bit of a chess match there to be able to beat him,” Clauson said.
Abreu finished .472-seconds back in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD #97 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
“This is one of those you want really bad, and you’ll do anything it takes to win. Bryan is a special guy to race with, and he races you really clean, and that makes it a lot of fun battling with him. You gotta step up your game in a race like that, and tonight we were driving as hard as possible. I could get to him, but I just couldn’t quite make enough happen to get him and get away. Tonight was a lot of fun, and hopefully we can knock this one off the bucket list next year,” Abreu said.
Zach Daum came from eighth and moved past Daryn Pittman with six laps to go to finish third in the Daum Crop Insurance – Weld Wheels #5D Eagle/Stanton Toyota.
“There’s a lot of great racers throughout the pack tonight, so it makes this a tough race. It’s a lot of fun, and a great race track and this many good cars – that’s what midget racing is all about. We had a great battle with Pittman and finally cleared him late, but we didn’t have anything for the top two. Nothing to complain about, so it’s nice to end our outdoor season on such a high note,” Daum said.
Defending race champion Pittman finished fourth in the Bob Hurley Ford – MHC Kenworth #21 Spike/Esslinger, and Payton Pierce rounded out the top-five in the Bryan Clauson Racing – Priority Aviation Services #39c Spike/Esslinger.
USAC HONDA MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: October 23, 2015 – Wayne City, Illinois – Wayne County Speedway -“Jason Leffler Memorial” (co-sanctioned by POWRi)
FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Zach Daum (#5D Daum), 2. Bryan Clauson (#63 RKR/Dooling), 3. Danny Stratton (#56 5IVE-6IX), 4. Tracy Hines (#24 Parker), 5. Kyle Schuett (#9k Schuett), 6. Dereck King (#91 Harris), 7. Spencer Bayston (#39 Clauson), 8. Austin Prock (#41 Prock). NT
SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Tanner Thorson (#67 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 2. Daryn Pittman (#21 Pittman), 3. Brady Bacon (#76m Manafort), 4. Blake Hahn (#8k Hard Eight), 5. Chett Gehrke (#11c Matteson), 6. Gage Walker (#7x Walker), 7. Daniel Robinson (#37 Felker), 8. Kellen Conover (#76 Conover). NT
THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Jake Neuman (#3N Neuman), 2. C.J. Leary (#11 Gray), 3. Tyler Thomas (#91T Thomas), 4. Tucker Klaasmeyer (#27 Klaasmeyer), 5. Dalton Camfield (#86c Camfield), 6. Anton Hernandez (#37x Felker), 7. Dave Camfield (#16c Camfield). NT
FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Rico Abreu (#97 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 2. Andrew Felker (#11a Felker), 3. Austin Brown (#7 Brown), 4. Thomas Meseraull (#37T Felker), 5. Daniel Adler (#50 Adler), 6. Parker Price-Miller (#9p Ronk), 7. Johnny Murdock (#0 Zero), 8. Hunter Lane (#0A Zero). NT
FIFTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Dave Darland (#63x RKR/Dooling), 2. Keith Rauch (#47 Mason), 3. Isaac Chapple (#52 Chapple), 4. Andy Malpocker (#22 Malpocker), 5. Ryan Robinson (#71 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 6. Shane Stewart (#5E Daum). NT
SIXTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Jonathan Beason (#8J Hard Eight), 2. Justin Peck (#5x Peck), 3. David Budres (#31 Manic), 4. Payton Pierce (#39c Clauson), 5. Tim Siner (#15 Siner/Cyilax), 6. Alex Hill (#19P Ronk), 7. Brad Loyet (#05 Loyet). NT
SEVENTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Kevin Thomas Jr. (#67k Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 2. Darren Hagen (#17 Brown), 3. Terry Babb (#88 Babb), 4. Dillon Welch (#99P Ronk), 5. Tyler Courtney (#7K Irwin), 6. Matt Ponder (#5H Hoppe), 7. Brayton Lynch (#1k RKR/Dooling). NT
ALSO AT THE TRACK: Justin Grant (#38 Gardner) and Zach Hampton (#35x Three-Five).
NON QUALIFIERS RACE: (10 laps) 1. Bayston, 2. D. Robinson, 3. Stewart, 4. Loyet, 5. Conover, 6. Prock, 7. Hill, 8. Lynch, 9. Lane, 10. Dave Camfield, 11. Murdock. NT
FIRST QUALIFIER: (12 laps) 1. Peck, 2. Darland, 3. Pierce, 4. T.Thomas, 5. R.Robinson, 6. Klaasmeyer, 7. King, 8. Neuman, 9. Bayston, 10. Hahn, 11. Adler. 2:27.74
SECOND QUALIFIER: (12 laps) 1. Clauson, 2. Abreu, 3. Thorson, 4. Hines, 5. Courtney, 6. Meseraull, 7. Siner, 8. D.Robinson, 9. Brown, 10. Dalton Camfield, 11. Rauch. NT
THIRD QUALIFIER: (12 laps) 1. K.Thomas, 2. Beason, 3. Stratton, 4. Schuett, 5. Hernandez, 6. Leary, 7. Malpocker, 8. Price-Miller, 9. Budres, 10. Stewart, 11. Chapple. NT
FOURTH QUALIFIER: (12 laps) 1. Pittman, 2. Daum, 3. Bacon, 4. Felker, 5. Hagen, 6. Babb, 7. Walker, 8. Gehrke, 9. Ponder, 10. Loyet, 11. Welch. 2:17.04
C MAIN: (12 laps) 1. D.Robinson, 2. Bayston, 3. Price-Miller, 4. Hahn, 5. Gehrke, 6. Loyet, 7. Stewart, 8. Brown, 9. Welch, 10. Dalton Camfield, 11. Budres, 12. Adler, 13. Chapple, 14. Rauch, 15. Neuman. NT
B MAIN: (15 laps) 1. R.Robinson, 2. Hagen, 3. Courtney, 4. Leary, 5. Hernandez, 6. Klaasmeyer, 7. King, 8. Siner, 9. Bayston, 10. Meseraull, 11. Babb, 12. Hahn, 13. D.Robinson, 14. Price-Miller, 15. Walker, 16. Malpocker. NT
FEATURE: (40 laps) 1. Bryan Clauson, 2. Rico Abreu, 3. Zach Daum, 4. Daryn Pittman, 5. Payton Pierce, 6. Brady Bacon, 7. Jonathan Beason, 8. Danny Stratton, 9. Dave Darland, 10. Kevin Thomas Jr., 11. Andrew Felker, 12. Tracy Hines, 13. Kyle Schuett, 14. Anton Hernandez, 15. Ryan Robinson, 16. Tanner Thorson, 17. Isaac Chapple, 18. C.J. Leary, 19. Dereck King, 20. Tyler Thomas, 21. Darren Hagen, 22. Tucker Klassmeyer, 23. Austin Brown, 24. Spencer Bayston, 25. Justin Peck, 26. Tyler Courtney. NT
**Prock flipped during the first heat. Murdock flipped during the fourth heat. Siner and Hill flipped during the sixth heat. T.Thomas flipped on lap 33 of the feature. King flipped on lap 39 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-28 Clauson, Lap 29 Abreu, Laps 30-40 Clauson.
THE PIT BOARD
**Friday night’s car count of 53 was the largest USAC Honda National Midget Series field since the 2012 “Turkey Night Grand Prix” at Perris Auto Speedway.
**Friday night’s race was USAC’s first ever visit to Wayne County Speedway in Wayne City, Illinois.
**Bryan Clauson picked up his 36th career USAC National Midget feature win, which moves him into sole position for 7th place on the all-time series win list. The win also makes him the series’ winningest active driver.
**The $20,000 winner’s share that Bryan Clauson and the RKR/Dooling Racing team earned was the biggest winner payout in the series since Darren Hagen and the RFMS team won the same amount in 2011 for winning the “Night Before the 500” at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Indiana.
**Friday night was Daryn Pittman’s first USAC National Midget appearance since the “Indiana Midget Week” event at Gas City (Ind.) I-69 Speedway on June 13, 2012.
**An astounding 22 of the 53 drivers at Wayne City, Ill. were making their first USAC National Midget appearance of the 2015 season.
**Friday night’s win was Bryan Clauson’s 4th USAC National Midget win in state of Illinois in his career. (Granite City, Ill. in 2010 & 2013 and Belleville, Ill. in 2013)
**With Rico Abreu’s 2nd place finish at Wayne City, Ill., he has now finished in the top-ten in all 11 of his series starts in 2015 with an average finish of 2.27!
**The 26 cars that started Friday night’s feature were the most of any race in the series during the 2015 USAC National Midget season.
**Two drivers finished in the top-five in the series for the first time this season: Daryn Pittman and Payton Pierce.
**Three drivers scored top-ten feature finishes in the series for the first time this season: Daryn Pittman, Jonathan Beason and Danny Stratton.
**Rico Abreu and Kevin Thomas, Jr. picked up their 5th USAC National Midget heat race wins of the season. Tanner Thorson won his fourth and Dave Darland his third while Jonathan Beason, Zach Daum and Jake Neuman won their first heats of the season.