Clauson Holds Back Grant In USAC Tussle
OCALA, Fla. — Justin Grant and Bryan Clauson closed out the Bubba Army WInternationals at Bubba Raceway Park Saturday night with a stirring battle in the 30-lap AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series feature.
Grant finally fell to Clauson’s constant pressure with 23 laps in the book, after the duo had repeatedly edged away from the field on an extremely fast surface offering enough bite that wheelstands were the order of the evening.
Chase Stockton, Dave Darland and Robert Ballou rounded out the top five in the caution-marred event. Darland had dropped from third to sixth at the start and spent the night trying to recoup his losses.
Grant outdragged front row companion Ballou on the start, but the fifth-starting Clauson shot forward and had dropped Ballou to third just before Kevin Thomas Jr. blasted the turn one wall to draw the first caution on lap five. From then on, he kept trying Stockton in every corner.
The yellow would fly again on lap 10 for a stalled car, with the return to green immediately interrupted by another spin in turn four when Shane Cottle caught a rut.
Clauson’s attack on Grant was interrupted on lap 13 when Dalten Gabbard looped it on the frontstretch, lap 20 for another spin and lap 23 when a car slowed on the backstretch, but the final return to green saw Clauson get the Tony Stewart-owned Chevrolet Performance No. 20 alongside Grant in turn two and then all the way by when they hit the other end of the tacky three-eighths-mile oval.
“I got jacked up in one and two and that let him get a run on me into three,” offered the dejected Grant. “All those cautions made it really hard to maintain your momentum.”
“He slid up a little and I finally got a good run on him,” said Clauson. “I knew I had to force a mistake. He had a right to his position, so I had to get him out of his groove a little. Every time we got close they went yellow, so I just kept putting pressure on him, hoping he would slip before the end.”
While Grant was obviously dejected that a win got away, Stockton had a big smile, saying: “I’m happy with a third tonight. After the rain yesterday, the track was too fast to pass anybody and position was everything.”
B main winner Tracy Hines advanced from ninth to claim sixth with Chris Windom, Cottle, Jon Stanbrough, Thursday night winner Brady Bacon and fast-timer Kody Swanson trailing.