LOOKING BACK: Bryan Clauson’s Final Victory

LOOKING BACK: Bryan Clauson
Bryan Clauson in action at Solomon Valley Raceway in 2016. (Rich Forman photo)

EDITOR’S NOTE: With a lack of racing on-track due to the recent coronavirus pandemic around the globe, Sprint Car & Midget is digging into the archives and reflecting on notable races from the past.

Today, we look back on the final night of the 2016 Chad McDaniel Memorial for the USAC National Midget Series at Solomon Valley Raceway in Beloit, Kan.

BELOIT, Kan. – Bryan Clauson’s magical 2016 season featured a victory lane visit for the 27th time on Aug. 3 when he became the first two-time winner of the Chad McDaniel Memorial USAC National Midget Series race at Solomon Valley Raceway.

The Noblesville, Ind., driver worked his way from fifth to challenge Spencer Bayston for the lead in the final third of the race, making the winning pass with 11 laps to go after two consecutive dead-heats on laps 24 and 25.

Clauson’s 27th win of the year was his 15th in USAC competition and also gave him the series point lead heading into the 39th running of the Belleville Midget Nationals.

At the drop of the green flag, polesitter Spencer Bayston shot out to the lead on the bottom, with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate Carson Macedo and Tucker Klaasmeyer trailing just behind.

Fourth-starting Holly Shelton teetered off the edge of the banking between turns one and two on the opening lap, slipping back to the 11th spot by the conclusion of lap one.

The red flag flew for an incident on the fifth lap when Tyler Thomas found himself spinning backwards between turns three and four.

With nowhere to go, Cody Brewer – the promoter of the previous night’s event in Fairbury, Neb. – plowed head-on in a nose-to-nose meeting with the sitting-duck Thomas, tipping Brewer onto his side after the contact.

Brewer walked away uninjured, but could not restart, while Thomas resumed his race from the tail.

As Bayston continued to lead the way, hugging the infield tires on the bottom all the way around the quarter-mile dirt oval, a pair of Ryan’s dueled for the fifth position – Ryan Robinson and Ryan Greth.

On lap six, Greth went to the outside of Robinson between the third and fourth turns, while Robinson’s front end stepped out from him and sent him ever so slightly up the race track as Greth ramped over the right rear tire of Robinson, sending himself airborne before landing on all fours and sliding gently backward into the outside turn four wall.

Greth restarted from the tail.

Bayston and Macedo led a two-car breakaway on the ensuing restart, while Clauson began to mount a charge on the topside, while the majority of the frontrunners stuck to the bottom.

On lap eight, though, Clauson swapped to the bottom to sneak underneath Klaasmeyer at the exit of turn four to grab third.

However, the action would once again come to a halt just one lap later after Anton Hernandez flipped wildly at the end of the front straightaway, landing a country-mile outside the turn one banking.  Hernandez would walk away uninjured.

Clauson was now tucked behind the two frontrunners of the early portion of the event on the lap nine restart. He continued to go to work a lane or two higher than Bayston and Macedo in the middle of the race track and was able to quickly reel in Macedo and blast by off the exit of turn four to take second at the stripe.

However, before the entire lap could be completed, a Matt Johnson and Jeff Stasa tangle between turns one and two negated Clauson’s pass, relegating him back behind Macedo on the restart.

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