Hamilton Gets First USAC Victory
MORRIS, Ill. — Kyle Hamilton ended a great weekend by taking his first-career Mopar USAC National Midget Series victory in Saturday’s “Freedom 50” at Grundy County Speedway.
Hamilton started the night by setting a new USAC track record and finished with a comfortable victory aboard the Curtis Motor Sales – Hamilton Painting No. 33 Spike/Esslinger.
Point-leader Darren Hagen led from the start and was in control over the first half of the race as Caleb Armstrong dogged him for the lead. Hamilton moved into third quickly and kept pace with the front two. The complexion of the race changed on lap 25 when Patrick Wilda stopped to bring out a caution.
On the restart, Hagen’s engine appeared to go sour, and Armstrong ran into him. Hamilton jumped to the outside and swept around both for a lead he would not relinquish, racing through two more restarts to log a 5.07-second victory.
“I knew to expect a really slow start there. I knew I’d need a little room getting into one, but when I saw Caleb jumped his wheel, I saw the top open up and just hammered down and didn’t look back. It’s such an awesome thing to win our first National race – we’ve been working hard for one for a while. We picked these two races to dial in on the short tracks. I can’t thank my guys enough for a great weekend,” Hamilton said.
Bryan Clauson and Tanner Swanson disposed of both Hagen and Armstrong quickly, as well, and the two teammates fought for the runner-up spot most of the remainder of the race. Clauson brought it home in second aboard the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD No. 67 Beast/Speedway Toyota.
“We actually got a little bit lucky to get some help from Clouser on that yellow, because I think his engine was going sour too, and he kept it low so we could find the top on that restart. All that broke loose in front of us, and things cleared out to get to second. The 33 (Hamilton) was on a rail, though. It didn’t matter what we tried, so after I knew he was gone, I just had to save the tire a little and try to keep Tanner behind me,” Clauson said.
Swanson found the podium in his third race aboard the Keith Kunz Motorsports – Toyota TRD No. 71 Beast/Speedway Toyota.
“I was rolling around there behind Bryan (Clauson), trying to save some stuff and maybe adjust a little. You can really wear your stuff out here, so I was taking it easy. I don’t know what happened on the restart, but I saw Armstrong go over Hagen, so Clauson and I caught a big run on the top and got up to third,” Swanson said.
Tanner’s brother Kody Swanson came home fourth with Armstrong fifth.
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