Last-Corner Pass Lifts Bryan Clauson
DUQUOIN, Ill. — Bryan Clauson made a last-lap, last-corner pass to finish less than a foot ahead of Tyler Thomas to win the feature in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series and Jake Neuman drove to his first victory in the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series in the Dean King Memorial finale Saturday at the Southern Illinois Center one-sixth Mini-Magic Mile.
Clauson chased Thomas for the opening 29 laps, but a final slide job that began in turn three put him a couple of feet in front exiting turn four. Thomas went under Clauson and they ran side-by-side to a few feet from the checkered flag. Their rear wheels touched and Thomas flipped on his side as the race ended.
It was the 17th career victory in POWRi Midgets for Clauson, the National Midget Driving champion for the 2009 through 2011 seasons and 2012 Indy 500 starter.
“I kept throwing sliders at him to break his momentum and I finally did it in turns one and two (on the final lap),” Clauson said. “It gave me a good run in the drag race to turn three and I was able to get past him in turns three and four. Experience won a little bit there. It feels really good to win another POWRi race.”
Thomas maintained the lead following the final restart on lap 26.
“I was driving a little too defensively the last couple of laps,” Thomas said. “He got a run on us. It was the most fun I’ve had racing these midgets. Racing guys like Bryan Clauson teaches you a lot.”
The 16-year old, is in his second season driving Midgets and won his second POWRi feature Friday.
“We made him (Clauson) work for it,” Thomas said. “It’s something to be proud of. I never would have dreamed of racing for the lead with Bryan Clauson. We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.”
Thomas started on the inside of the second row, Clauson on the outside of the front row. Clauson and Thomas emerged from the second corner running one-two and Thomas passed him on the inside in turns three and four to take the lead.
“I had a really good start,” Thomas said. “I was in shock to be in first.”
They were never separated by more than two or three car lengths the rest of the race, which had three cautions.
Brett Anderson ran third the entire feature.
“We weren’t good enough for Clauson and Thomas,” Anderson said. “We didn’t have much for them. You can’t be off even a little bit if you want to win. You have to be on top of your game.”
Neuman, a 15-year old, started on pole and led all 30 laps. His best finish in 10 previous features was fourth at Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway oAug. 17.
“It feels great,” Neuman said. “I think the cautions (five) helped us. I was able to keep on my (inside) line.”
Bryan Clauson, Tyler Thomas, Brett Anderson, Nick Knepper, Tim Siner, Shane Cockrum, Austin Brown, Daniel Adler, Daniel Robinson, Tony Roney, Joe B. Miller, Jake Blackhurst, Dillon Welch, Colten Cottle, Andrew Felker, Rich Camfield, Derek Holmwood, Eric Fenton, Dereck King, Cameron Hagin.