Terre Haute, Indiana…….Daron Clayton made just his third start of the season with the AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series on Thursday night in the “Don Smith Classic” at the Terre Haute Action Track, and he made it count. The Sikeston, Missouri driver took advantage of his pole starting spot and endured thirty grueling laps around the famed half-mile to take the win in front of a frenzied crowd.
Clayton shot out to the lead over Sunday’s winner Justin Grant, and it was off to the races. Coleman Gulick quickly showed himself as a contender to beat as he moved to the second spot. He moved in on Clayton and nearly took the lead off turn-four on one occasion before Clayton settled in and pulled away. As the top-two raced together, Bryan Clauson and Dave Darland reeled them in. Darland briefly looked for second before his left-rear shredded on lap 16 while running third.
From there, Clauson became the hunter as he disposed of Gulick on the restart. Clauson, who changed an engine after setting Fast Time, closed in on the leader before fading late in the race as his right-rear tire was coming apart. Jon Stanbrough jumped to the second spot and closed slightly, but no one would stop Clayton from an emotional win, capped with wild victory donuts down the front stretch in the Ray Morgan Motorsports #92 Spike/Chevy.
“The history here is phenomenal. I can’t even explain what it means to me to win here. It’s my third win here. I’m still in shock a little bit at winning another one here. I had Ray (Morgan) to keep me sane down in turn three, telling me how my lead was. It’s so hard for me to start out front and stay there. I was searching around, trying to find the best place to be. This place changes so much during the race. It was a fine line up there trying to run the high line, and it worked out well,” Clayton said of his seventh career USAC win.
Stanbrough soldiered home second in the Roberts/Tate Racing – Leer Racing #21x DRC/Speedway.
“Once I got by Bryan, I tried to run the car a little harder and I think that made it worse. We blistered both rear tires, and you just lose all your forward bite when you do that. Hopefully we can dig out of sixth in Sprintweek points and keep digging. Maybe we can still get there,” Stanbrough said.
After a battle with Levi Jones over the final few laps, Tracy Hines came away with third in the MP Environmental Services – Support Esophagus Cancer Research #4 DRC/Shaver.
“We fell back early a little bit. We finally got the top line going pretty good and went back forward. I felt like we were staying with them at the very end, but not any faster. It was a demanding track tonight. Track was really good. The place is definitely hard on the engines, as ours got really hot. We were pretty good at the end, though,” Hines said.
Jones brought it home fourth after starting 11th in the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing – Chevy Performance #20 Maxim/Kistler Chevy. Gulick held on to score a top-five in the Hazardous Sports – Rob’s Market #14 DRC/Claxton Chevy.
AMSOIL USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS: July 18, 2012 – Terre Haute, IN – Terre Haute Action Track – “Don Smith Classic” – 25th AMSOIL “Indiana Sprintweek”
QUALIFYING: 1. Bryan Clauson, 7, Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian-19.538; 2. Jon Stanbrough, 21x, Roberts/Tate-19.733; 3. Darren Hagen, 69, Dynamics-19.753; 4. Coleman Gulick, 14, Gulick-19.845; 5. Damion Gardner, 71, DG-19.855; 6. Levi Jones, 20, Stewart/Curb-Agajanian-19.892; 7. Dave Darland, 11, Walker-19.912; 8. Tracy Hines, 4, Hines-19.943; 9. Blake Fitzpatrick, 10, 19.949; 10. Justin Grant, 40, Hery-19.984; 11. Matt Mitchell, 37, Mitchell-19.988; 12. Daron Clayton, 92, Clayton-19.989; 13. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 9K, BlackJack-20.015; 14. Robert Ballou, 81, MPHG-20.024; 15. Hunter Schuerenberg, 35, Byram-20.054; 16. Braylon Fitzpatrick, 3F, Fitzpatrick-20.054; 17. Bobby East, 5E, East-20.090; 18. Chad Boespflug, 98, Boespflug-20.100; 19. Jerry Coons, Jr., 71P, Phillips-20.104; 20. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-20.113; 21. Chase Stockon, 32, Stockon-20.137; 22. Shane Cottle, 2, Epperson-20.216; 23. Wes McIntyre, 83, McIntyre-20.254; 24. Kyle Cummins, 3c, Cummins-20.333; 25. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-20.338; 26. Scotty Weir, 77, Wingo-20.379; 27. Dakota Jackson, 3, Jackson-20.505; 28. Thomas Meseraull, 41, Stensland-20.580; 29. Chase Briscoe, 5B, Briscoe-20.748; 30. Logan Jarrett, 29, Jarrett-20.767.
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Stockon, 2. Thomas, 3. Blake Fitzpatrick, 4. Leary, 5. Gardner, 6. East, 7. Briscoe, 8. Clauson. 2:41.99
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Cottle, 2. Grant, 3. Boespflug, 4. Ballou, 5. Stanbrough, 6. Jones, 7. Weir, 8. Jarrett. 2:45.94
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. McIntyre, 2. Schuerenberg, 3. Coons, 4. Darland, 5. Jackson, 6. Hagen, 7. Mitchell. 2:44.39
FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Windom, 2. Hines, 3. Clayton, 4. Gulick, 5. Cummins, 6. Braylon Fitzpatrick, 7. Meseraull. 2:42.74
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Stanbrough, 2. Jones, 3. Clauson, 4. Hagen, 5. Gardner, 6. Braylon Fitzpatrick, 7. Meseraull, 8. Jarrett, 9. Briscoe, 10. Jackson, 11. Weir, 12. Cummins. 4:08.40
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Daron Clayton, 2. Jon Stanbrough, 3. Tracy Hines, 4. Levi Jones, 5. Coleman Gulick, 6. Robert Ballou, 7. Damion Gardner, 8. Jerry Coons, Jr., 9. Bryan Clauson, 10. Chris Windom, 11. Darren Hagen, 12. Shane Cottle, 13. Dave Darland, 14. Chase Stockon, 15. Hunter Schuerenberg, 16. Blake Fitzpatrick, 17. Wes McIntyre, 18. Thomas Meseraull, 19. Chad Boespflug, 20. C.J. Leary, 21. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 22. Justin Grant. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Clayton.
**Mitchell flipped in Heat 3.
NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Stanbrough-968, 2-Jones-965, 3-Darland-883, 4-Gardner-881, 5-Hines-832, 6-Clauson-767, 7-Schuerenberg-741, 8-Ballou-723, 9-Hagen-721, 10-Windom-703.
NEW INDIANA SPRINT WEEK POINTS: 1-Jones-224, 2-Stanbrough-201, 3-Clauson-199, 4-Gardner-185, 5-Darland-183, 6-Schuerenberg-175, 7-Coons-164, 8-Stockon-161, 9-Hines-159, 10-Gulick-151.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: July 19 – Putnamville, IN – Lincoln Park Speedway – 25th AMSOIL “Indiana Sprint Week”