Bechtelsville, PA…….Bryan Clauson kicked off the 2012 “Rotondo Weirich Eastern Storm” in dominating fashion to win the “Jesse Hockett Classic” 40-lap Main Event Tuesday night at Grandview Speedway. It was the first win of the season for Clauson and his Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian Curb Records – R&B Trucker’s #7 Maxim/Fisher. Clauson is also partially sponsored by mini-series sponsor Rotondo Weirich.
The turning point came on a restart with 24 laps in the books, when the top groove finally became the place to be. Early leader Jerry Coons, Jr. stuck to the bottom while cars jockeyed for position behind him. Clauson emerged from the fray and took the lead off turn two on lap 19. He was never challenged as the race went green the rest of the distance, with Clauson posting a winning margin of 7.395 seconds.
“We had a pretty good car the first 16 laps. I knew eventually I’d have to try the top. I felt it out under that caution, and on that restart, Jerry had us bogged down on the bottom. (Chris) Windom actually showed me the top first, so I had to get on attack and get to the cushion. The bottom was going away, and we just got Jerry hanging off turn-two. From there, I just tried to catch lapped cars in the right spots, and I knew I had to run as hard as I could, especially when I saw the #20 (Levi Jones) move up to second,” Clauson said.
Kevin Thomas, Jr. followed Clauson to the front on the restart and appeared to be headed for a runner-up finish, but Jones recovered to run him down and take the second spot coming to the white flag aboard the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing – Chevrolet Performance #20 Maxim/Kistler Chevy.
“I’ve won two races here running the bottom, and I lost last year trying to run the top. I wasn’t gonna go to the top until someone tried it. Those guys just drove by us on the restart, and then I got behind Kevin Thomas, and he was blowing water and all that, so we had to work to get by him. We definitely weren’t as good tonight as Bryan, though, so we’ll work on our stuff and go at it again in a couple days,” Jones said.
Thomas, who earlier in the evening set a new one-lap track record of 13.360 seconds, was celebrating the 71st birthday of his crew chief and sprint car legend Bubby Jones. He aggressively attacked the cushion to get to second before giving up the spot in the final laps, still matching his best-career finish with the series.
“I could tell the top was gonna be the place to be. We got to second on that restart, and I tried to hold off Levi toward the end, but our engine got a little hot and started to lay down some, but another podium’s not bad. We needed a good finish to start the trip, and we got a track record for Bub on his birthday,” said the driver from Cullman, Alabama.
Chris Windom finished fourth in the Baldwin Brothers Racing – Fox Paving #5 Maxim/Claxton Mopar, while Coons rounded out the top-five aboard the Phillips Motorsports – Greene’s Truck & Auto #71P DRC/Foxco.
The event was red-flagged on lap two when Coleman Gulick hopped a wheel in turn three and flipped out of the ballpark, taking out a billboard and wedging against a tree. A lengthy red-flag period was needed to take his car off the track, but Gulick walked away under his own power.
AMSOIL USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS: June 5, 2012 – Bechtelsville, PA – Grandview Speedway – “Jesse Hockett Classic”
QUALIFYING: 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 9K, Black Jack-13.360; 2. Bryan Clauson, 7, Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian-13.398; 3. Bobby East, 2B, Benic-13.439; 4. Levi Jones, 20, Stewart/Curb-Agajanian-13.536; 5. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-13.579; 6. Darren Hagen, 69, Dynamics-13.621; 7. Jon Stanbrough, 21x, Roberts/Tate-13.652; 8. Jerry Coons, Jr., 71P, Phillips-13.738; 9. Jonathan Hendrick, 68, Hendrick-13.746; 10. Damion Gardner, 71, DG-13.776; 11. Hunter Schuerenberg, 35, Byram-13.783; 12. Dave Darland, 11, Walker-13.809; 13. Robert Ballou, 81, MPHG-13.839; 14. Tracy Hines, 4, Hines-13.890; 15. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-13.953; 16. Mark Bitner, 15, Bitner-13.975; 17. Coleman Gulick, 14, Gulick-13.999; 18. Mark Smith, 1M, J&B-14.016; 19. Chase Stockon, 32, Stockon-14.270; 20. Kyle Moody, 175, Pietrofitta-14.410; 21. Joey Biasi, B1, Biasi-14.582; 22. Dan Mazy, X, Mazy-14.923; 23. Mike Gular, 8, Petry-15.358.
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Bitner, 2. Ballou, 3. Gardner, 4. Thomas, 5. Jones, 6. Stockon, 7. Mazy, 8. Stanbrough. NT
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Hines, 2. Schuerenberg, 3. Coons, 4. Windom, 5. Clauson, 6. Gulick, 7. Moody, 8. Gular. 1:52.81
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Smith, 2. Darland, 3. East, 4. Leary, 5. Hendrick, 6. Hagen, 7. Biasi. 1:55.86
FEATURE: (40 laps) 1. Bryan Clauson, 2. Levi Jones, 3. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 4. Chris Windom, 5. Jerry Coons, Jr., 6. Darren Hagen, 7. Dave Darland, 8. Hunter Schuerenberg, 9. Robert Ballou, 10. Jon Stanbrough, 11. Tracy Hines, 12. Bobby East, 13. Chase Stockon, 14. Mark Smith, 15. Joey Biasi, 16. Kyle Moody, 17. Mike Gular, 18. Damion Gardner, 19. Jonathan Hendrick, 20. C.J. Leary, 21. Mark Bitner, 22. Coleman Gulick. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-18 Coons, Laps 19-40 Clauson.
**Mazy flipped in Heat 1. Gulick flipped on Lap 2 of the Feature.
NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Stanbrough-487; 2-Jones-461; 3-Darland-447; 4-Hines-430; 5-Gardner-413; 6-Thomas-385; 7-Ballou-370; 8-Hagen-368; 9-Schuerenberg/Windom-357.
ROTONDO WEIRICH EASTERN STORM POINTS: 1-Clauson-69; 2-Thomas-65; 3-Jones-64; 4-Windom-58; 5-Coons-54; 6-Hagen/Darand-49; 8-Schuerenberg-46; 9-Ballou-43; 10-Hines/East-39.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: June 7 – New Egypt, New Jersey – New Egypt Speedway