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Jan 19, 2014 - 08:08 AM
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Bryan Clauson Wins 4th Preliminary Feature At Chili Bowl
Posted by: newsla on Jan 19, 2014 - 08:01 AM
Tidbits
Bryan Clauson Wins 4th Preliminary Feature At Chili Bowl


Bryan Clauson drove to victory and five additional drivers who have raced regularly in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series finished in the top 15 in Friday’s A-feature in the fourth and final qualifying round for the 28th Chili Bowl Nationals at the Tulsa Expo Center..

 

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Clauson of Noblesville, Ind., will be seeded into the top four rows in tonight’s championship 55-lap A-feature, which will be broadcast live on MAVTV American Real for the first time. The 24-year-old Clauson seems likely to be considered a favorite to win the most prestigious race in midget racing among the sold-out crowd of 15,500. But he won’t be alone. Jonathan Beason of Broken Arrow, Okla., Caleb Armstrong of New Castle, Ind., and Christopher Bell of Norman, Okla., also won preliminary features. And there are also the Swindells, a father-son combination with nine Chili Bowl triumphs. Son Kevin has won the past four and father Sammy has five.

Armstrong drew the pole and Bell the outside of the front row on Friday night for the championship feature..

Clauson has been a dominant driver in POWRi Midgets with 22 wins, tied for second with Brad Kuhn, on the all-time list. He’s made only 51 feature starts.

Darren Hagen led the drivers with POWRi experience by finishing 10th in the A-feature Friday, followed by Dillon Welch (11th), Tyler Thomas (12th), Austin Brown (14th) and Terry Babb (15th).

Hagen has seven victories in 49 starts in POWRi, but he’s expected to race full time in the series this year for Shane Hmiel’s Great Clips team.

“We’ve got a problem with our drive line binding up,” Hagen said. “We struggled all night. But we’re fighters.’

Hagen of Riverside, Calif., was considering retirement following the Chili Bowl when Great Clips and the Hamiel team approached him about racing in POWRi.

“Great Clips came on board and it was too good an offer to turn down,” Hagen said. “But we’re still talking and will try to wrap up the deal next week.”

Welch of Carmel, Ind., was the POWRi National Midgets Rookie of the Year in 2012, but missed most of last season from a lack of sponsorship.

Thomas of Collinsville, Okla., has three career POWRi National Midget victories. The 17-year-old won his heat and was third in his qualifier. Thomas will start in the second row of the C main tonight.

“Overall, it was a pretty good run,” Thomas said. “We were on the pole for the heat and won, but didn’t get any passing points. We were pretty stout in the qualifier, finished third, but were too tight the whole race. I tried to get the shocks dialed up to race the car on the cushion, but had to commit to the bottom. I’m pretty happy with making the A-feature.

“For sure, we can get to the B and if we can get the car working pretty good, I think we can get up there (A-feature).”

Brown of Millstadt, Ill., was second in his heat and fourth in his qualifier. He’ll start in the C main Saturday.

“I wish we were farther up front,” Brown admitted. “We’d have a better chance. I didn’t expect the track to be better on the bottom early on in the qualifier. I tried the top and couldn’t get back to the bottom before falling back. We definitely got the car working pretty good at the end. I was pretty happy to make the A main.”

Babb, a 47-year-old from Decatur, Ill., had never been to the Chili Bowl.

“I’m still learning,” Babb said. “I’ve never been here even to watch. We learned a lot.’

Babb won the second B main, but had to drive without brakes for most of the A-feature.

“The brake pedal fell off in the first five laps and I just tried to drive around and stay out of trouble,” Babb said.

POWRi National Midget drivers who failed to advance to the A-feature Friday included Darren Kingston of Vandalia, Ill., Dereck King of Goreville, Ill., and Daniel Robinson of Ewing, Ill.


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