Bryan Clauson claims USAC Sprint Car title in California

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A runner-up finish in last night’s season-ending Oval Nationals at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway earned former Indianapolis 500 starter Bryan Clauson (pictured, from the “500” in 2012) his second consecutive USAC National Sprint Car championship, making him the eighth driver in USAC history to win back-to-back series titles.

He claims the 2013 Sprint Car title by a 63-point margin over Dave Darland, who led the 40-lap feature at Perris wire-to-wire but had to deal with Clauson over the final laps before beating him by .106 of a second.

Clauson now has six USAC titles altogether, which includes three National Driver Championships from 2010-2012, the two Sprint Car championships from 2012 and 2013, and the 2011 National Midget title.

This season, he collected seven race wins, 21 Top-5, and 30 Top-10 finishes in the Sprint Car series.

“Winning back-to-back Sprint Car titles is special considering they were won in different scenarios,” Clauson said in a statement. “The first one last year was with my family team – a team we had built from the ground up. And then I came over to Tony Stewart Racing, which has such a rich history of not only winning races, but championships too.

“Being able to continue that championship tradition is pretty special.”

It also marks the 14th USAC crown for Stewart as an owner; he now has seven Sprint Car titles to go along with his seven Silver Crown titles, the most recent having been won by Bobby East back in September.

“So much work goes into a season like this,” Stewart said in his own statement. “The dedication that’s required, along with the time and effort of so many people, make moments like this incredibly special.

“Bryan Clauson and the entire team were really focused on what they wanted to achieve before the season event started and they all saw it through.”

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.