Clauson pulls off Memorial Day double – and nearly wins nightcap

Published On May 26, 2015 » 2087 Views» By John Schwarb » Blogs, IMS, Indy 500

Bryan Clauson had a little more time than he wanted to get to the second stop of his Memorial Day weekend “double,” but Sunday was still a memorable day of racing for the USAC champion from Noblesville, Indiana.

Clauson, in the No. 88 Jonathan Byrd’s/Cancer Centers of America Chevrolet, finished 31st in Sunday’s 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, then headed to Kokomo for a night at the Kokomo Klassic sprint car race, where he finished second by a wheel.

Not bad for a full day’s work, he just hoped the first leg of the double had lasted a bit longer.

The No. 88 car qualified 33rd for the race on Old National Armed Forces Pole Day, then started 30th after three other cars were moved to the back for driver changes – “we had a head start on the hard-charger award there for a little bit,” Clauson said – but there was no more speed in the car on Race Day than there was over the rest of the month.

Bryan Clauson finished 31st in Sunday's Indianapolis 500, then second that evening at the Kokomo Klassic sprint car race.

Bryan Clauson finished 31st in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, then second that evening at the Kokomo Klassic sprint car race.

While trying to give space to cars on the lead lap, Clauson got out of the racing groove in Turn 4 on Lap 64 and crashed into the outside wall, ending his day in 31st place.

“Obviously didn’t have quite as long of a race as we had hoped,” the 25-year-old said. “But it’s just such a magical place, especially on Race Day with everything going on. It’s really cool.”

At Kokomo Speedway, an hour north of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Clauson was in a more familiar seat in his sprint car. He struggled a bit in heat races and started 13th in the feature but nearly won, finishing second by a wheel to Kevin Thomas Jr.

“Came up a little bit short, but at the end of the day the fans saw a good race and we put on a good show, which is what it’s all about,” Clauson said.

Ninety Clauson fans filled two buses, having bought packages to see him run both races.

“That was really cool,” he said. “We had a wide range of people, exposing some of the dirt-track fans back to Indianapolis and some Indy car fans that had never seen a race on dirt.”

Maybe the deal will see another year in 2016.

“It’s probably too early, but all indications seem to be that we’re going to move forward with the Byrd family, and part of that is being back at the Speedway each and every year,” he said. “We’ll sit down and analyze what went well and what didn’t go so well, but I think you’ll see us back.”

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John Schwarb

I joined the Indianapolis Motor Speedway communications team in July 2014 and love sharing stories from the World Capital of Racing, particularly its rich history. Most of my professional career has been in racing or golf, so if I'm not in the IMS media center, the office at 16th and Georgetown or milling around Gasoline Alley, maybe I'll be standing over a birdie putt at Brickyard Crossing. Follow us at @IMS or drop me a line at @JohnSchwarb and come back to the blog often for more stories.
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