Clauson Completes Western World Sweep
PEORIA, Ariz. — Bryan Clauson completed a sweep of Saturday night’s 46th annual Sands Chevrolet Western World Championships presented by Racers Advantage Store with a last lap pass to win the Honda USAC National Midget feature at Canyon Speedway Park.
Earlier in the night, Clauson had won the companion sprint car feature. By winning both $7,5000 features, he also earned a $5,000 bonus from E&K of Phoenix, boosting his night’s take to $20,000.
Clauson passed Darren Hagen for the lead during the final few feet of the race.
“There was a big cushion up there, I knew my only chance was to get up in it and stay in it,” Clauson commented after his 26th overall feature win of the season and tenth score at Canyon Speedway Park after running the track total to nine earlier in the night in sprint car action.
For much of the 30-lap midget feature, a Clauson sweep of the night seemed unlikely.
But, after an extended three-way duel for the lead among Clauson, Darren Hagen and Christopher Bell, Clauson’s last corner heroics netted his third Western World title in the past two years by just 0.249 seconds along with the bonus for topping both main events.
Clauson started the 30-lapper from the pole position aboard his No. 39 Midget, but it was front row outside starter Hagen nabbing the early lead as Clauson slipped back to fourth on the opening circuit behind Dave Darland and sixth-starter Bell.
Working the high line, Bell moved past Darland for second on the second circuit and then rallied past Hagen for the lead on the fifth lap.
With Bell working the high side of the track flawlessly, the battle brewed in his wake between Hagen and Rico Abreu with rimriders Clauson and Brady Bacon joining the mix at the halfway point.
Bacon and Abreu were eliminated from potential victory lane appearances when they tangled getting into turn three on the 20th round, with Hagen taking advantage to race by Bell for the lead on the low side two rounds later on lap 22.
Clauson made his way past Bell and went after Hagen, working the extreme cushion in turns three and four to fruition with a daring last corner pass as Hagen missed the bottom of the corner just enough to open the door to the lucrative payday.
Hagen settled for second in Shane Hmiel’s No. 56 with current USAC Midget point leader Bell settling for the show position after setting the pace for 17 laps.
Hines was fourth with Darland rounding out the top five.
Brad Kuhn raced from 16th to sixth with Tyler Thomas, Mike Spencer, USAC Western States points leader Ronnie Gardner and Andrew Felker completing the top 10.