Clauson celebrated his 23rd birthday a day early with his second straight win in Indiana Midget Week, a mini-championship within the national title chase, at the 5/16th-mile track. It was the first USAC National Midget triumph of the season for Clauson, a Noblesville resident who has been the USAC National Driver of the Year for the past two seasons and the National Midget Driver of the Year for the past three.
Clauson started sixth, the outside of the third row in the 22-car field, in his Toyota-powered Bullet and passed Nathan Smee of Australia for the lead exiting turn four on the second lap.
"It took a little ingenuity," Clauson said. "Starting sixth, you gotta be aware of the track and where you can go early to get to the front. Everybody kinda moved to the top and I got a good run off the bottom in (turns) one and two. I dropped down there and made the bottom work for a lap or two and was able to take the lead early. I gravitated back to the top. It helped being aware of the track, it's a place that we've been running so long.
"Our Toyota was running great up on the top all night, so I knew we'd be good up there, but we just had to get there first. The lapped cars were fast enough that it was hard to move through them and with Darren (Hagen) behind ya, you just want to make good exits to get a run to the next corner.
"It's great to get a win."
Hagen, who won the Indiana Midget Week opener Wednesday at Gas City I-69 Speedway, had started on the inside of the third row -- next to Clauson -- and was second on the second lap. The 25-year-old from Riverside, Calif., chased Clauson the rest of the way and finished second.
Hagen's Esslinger-powered DRC Jr., didn't have anywhere to go to pass Clauson. The outside was the fast line.
"It was a one-lane race track," Hagen said. "I went to the bottom a couple of times and he (Clauson) would pull three or four car lengths farther ahead. If he's pulling away, the cars behind are coming and I had to get back to the outside to protect second. The track too rubber in (turns) three or four and he got to it first. Second is better than third."
Hagen has a 116-point lead, 465-349, in the national champioship over Bobby East of Brownsburg. He's also ahead for the Indiana Midget Week over Clauson, 138-109.
"We're focused on the national USAC title, not the Indiana Midget Week," Hagen said. "It's a good start."
Caleb Armstrong climbed from eighth starting spot to finish third in his Toyota-powered Spike.
"I'm real happy right now," the 19-year-old from New Castle said. "We needed this big time. We struggled all night and barely made the feature (taking the last transfer spot, sixth, in the semi)."
Shane Cottle of Kokomo finished fourth and Chris Windom of Canton, Ill., was fifth.
The feature was green for the opening 25 laps, but had three cautions over the final five. The final restart came with three laps remaining and Clauson wasn't challenged for the lead by Hagen, winning by four car lengths.
Indiana Midget Week will have its third event tonight at Bloomington Speedway, followed by Lawrenceburg Speedway on Saturday and Kokomo Speedway on Sunday.
Clauson will miss Bloomington. He's racing in the Firestone Indy Lights event at Milwaukee, but will return for Lawrenceburg and Kokomo. Short-track star Kyle Larson, who was third at Gas City on Wednesday, didn't compete at Lincoln Park and won't be at Bloomington, but will return to Indiana Midget Week at Lawrenceburg and Kokomo. Larson will make his ARCA stock car debut today at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
At Mopar USAC National Midget results:
Qualifications: 1. Bryan Clauson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-12.961; 2. Darren Hagen, 3, RFMS-13.149; 3. Shane Cottle, 71, Kunz-13.158; 4.. Chris Windom, 11, Wilke-13.265; 5. Tracy Hines, 24, Parker-13.288; 6. Caleb Armstrong, 7c, C&A-13.296; 7. Nathan Smee, 7AU, Cooper-13.308; 8. Alex Bright, 77, Hemler-13.310; 9. Michael Pickens, 1NZ, Buckley-13.332; 10. Rico Abreu, 67K, Kunz-13.416; 11. Bobby East, 4, Klatt-13.531; 12. Andy Malpocker, 22, Malpocker-13.588; 13. Mario Clouser, 27, RW-13.600; 14. Taylor Ferns, 55, Ferns-13.702; 15. Steve Buckwalter, 25, Buckwalter-13.714; 16. Ryan Criswell, 11R, Criswell-13.748; 17. Dalton Armstrong, 7A, C&A-13.830; 18. Thomas Meseraull, 16, Sandy-13.844; 19. Justin Grosz, 99, Grosz-13.848; 20. Dave Darland, 10, Moore-13.866; 21. Dillon Welch, 47, Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian-13.965; 22. Shane Hollingsworth, 85, Hollingsworth-13.979; 23. Jerry Coons, Jr., 63, Dooling-14.077; 24. Isaac Chapple, 52, Chapple-14.138; 25. Kent Schmidt, 5K, Schmidt-14.200; 26. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-14.270; 27. Trevor Kobylarz, 49, Kobylarz-14.283; 28. Chris Bell, 21B, Lowe-14.298; 29. Davey Ray, 33, RayPro-14.321; 30. Nick Wean, 78, Wean-14.353; 31. C.J. Leary, 24L, Hines-14.370; 32. Layne Himebaugh, 7, Malone-14.461; 33. Brad Kuhn, 17, RW-14.534; 34. Michael Koontz, 17K, Koontz-14.818; 35. Levi Jones, 56, Hmiel-15.013; 36. Cameron King, 55K, King-15.037; 37. Austin Burke, 54, Burke-15.202; 38. Levi Roberts, 39, Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian-NT; 39. Scott Hatton, 15, Huston-NT; 40. Colten Cottle, 5c, Cottle-NT.
Note: Levi Roberts flipped during qualifying.
First heat: (10 laps) 1. Clauson, 2. Clouser, 3. Hines, 4. Welch, 5. Ray, 6. D. Armstrong, 7. Burke, 8. Pickens, 9. Schmidt, 10. Kuhn. NT
Second heat: (10 laps) 1. Meseraull, 2. Hollingsworth, 3. Hagen, 4. Wean, 5. C. Armstrong, 6. Daum, 7. Abreu, 8. Ferns, 9. Koontz. NT
Third heat: (10 laps) 1. Coons, 2. Smee, 3. East, 4. Buckwalter, 5. Leary, 6. S. Cottle, 7. Kobylarz, 8. Grosz, 9. Hatton. NT
Fourth heat: (10 laps) 1. Windom, 2. Criswell, 3. Bell, 4. Malpocker, 5. Bright, 6. Himebaugh, 7. King, 8. Darland, 9. Chapple. NT
Semi: (12 laps) 1. S. Cottle, 2. Pickens, 3. Darland, 4. Bright, 5. Daum, 6. C. Armstrong, 7. Ray, 8. Ferns, 9. Leary, 10. Schmidt, 11. Kobylarz, 12. Himebaugh, 13. Kuhn, 14. Hatton, 15. King, 16. Koontz, 17. Burke, 18. Abreu, 19. Grosz, 20. D. Armstrong, 21. Chapple. NT
Feature: (30 laps) 1. Bryan Clauson, 2. Darren Hagen, 3. Caleb Armstrong, 4. Shane Cottle, 5. Chris Windom, 6. Nathan Smee, 7. Bobby East, 8. Tracy Hines, 9. Zach Daum, 10. Thomas Meseraull, 11. Chris Bell, 12. Dave Darland, 13. Shane Hollingsworth, 14. Brad Kuhn, 15. Steve Buckwalter, 16. Ryan Criswell, 17. Alex Bright, 18. Davey Ray, 19. Dillon Welch, 20. Andy Malpocker, 21. Nick Wean, 22. Jerry Coons, Jr., 23. Michael Pickens, 24. Mario Clouser. NT
Feature lap leaders: Smee 1, Clauson 2-30.
Mopar USAC National Midget points:
1. Hagen 465, 2. East 349, 3. C.Armstrong 334, 4. Hines 330, 5. Clauson 326, 6. Larson 324, 7. Clouser 273, 8. Windom 267, 9. Jones-242, 10. Roberts 238.
Indiana Midget Week points: 1. Hagen 138, 2. Clauson 109, 3. Hines 105, 4. Windom 102, 5. (tie) Coons, Buckwalter 87, 7. East 72, 8. Smee 69, 9. Bright 66, 10. Larson-62.