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Bryan Clauson remembered at Chili Bowl

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TULSA, Okla. (AP) Reminders of the late Bryan Clauson were everywhere at the Chili Bowl Nationals.

There was Justin Grant, driving the Clauson-Marshall No. 39 car to victory in the Friday night feature – the same number Clauson himself drove so often in his career.

There were the decals on the Clauson-Marshall team’s cars which read: “Driven 2 Save Lives,” a nod to the team’s Race to Save Lives campaign to increase the number of organ and tissue donors.

There’s also the list of past winners – Clauson won the Chili Bowl’s title race in 2014. He also won the Friday night feature last year, months before he died of injuries from a crash in Kansas.

Then there was Bryan’s father, Clauson-Marshall co-owner Tim Clauson, working and mingling with the people who have helped him through the toughest of times.

“This sport and the teams and the family and the fans, promoters – everybody in the sport – has just wrapped their arms around our whole family,” Tim Clauson said.

Tim Clauson, a former driver, never considered stepping away from the racing business. He said he and his son spoke about the possibility that something bad could happen, so he knew what to do.

“He said, `Look, Dad. You were a racer long before I was,”‘ Tim Clauson said. “I’m one now. This is what we do, and we’re going to race on. God forbid, something would happen to you, we’re going to race on, and God forbid, something happened to me, I would want you to race on.”‘

Grant did just that for the Clauson-Marshall team. Tim Clauson said watching Grant win on Friday night was meaningful because of his similarities to Bryan.

“Justin’s a kid that came up the way the old-time racers used to come up,” Tim Clauson said. “Bryan’s kind of a throwback racer. So to get the win with him one year later was pretty special.”

The drivers recalled Bryan Clauson’s rare driving ability. He was one of the most successful dirt-track racers of all time, with 112 United States Auto Club race victories, and he was chasing the all-time wins mark.

“He was the guy,” Rico Abreu, who won the Chili Bowl’s title race in 2015 and 2016, said. “He was the guy to beat at every race. He was the most diverse driver in the country. It’s such a sad loss for the sport of racing in general.”

Bryan Clauson drove sprint cars for Tony Stewart’s team, and they shared a mutual respect.

“He’s one of the best drivers I ever had,” Stewart said. “He never complained about anything. And even when he was upset about something, he could still tell you what he wanted to tell you and do it with a smile on his face. His personality was infectious to everybody. He just was a great kid, and somebody that got taken from us way too early.”

Bryan Clauson posthumously was named winner of the Thomas J. Schmeh Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Sport, and the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame has received $1 million in pledges to eventually build a suite tower to be named for him. It’s such honors that help Tim Clauson learn more about the effect his son had on the racing community.

“I think he’d be a little embarrassed by all that,” Tim Clauson said. “I also think he’d be very proud, as we are.”

Robert Hight extends Funny Car victory streak to 13 seasons

Photo: Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery
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MORRISON, Colo. (AP) Robert Hight beat Tommy Johnson Jr. on Sunday in the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway to extend his Funny Car victory streak to 13 seasons.

Hight topped Johnson with a 3.995-second pass at 317.57 mph in a Chevrolet Camaro SS for his 38th career victory.

“We definitely struggled through the first few rounds and we were lucky to get those round wins, but I have a great team who figured things out and helped get me to the winner’s circle,” Hight said. “It’s definitely a long-time coming and we hadn’t had much luck, but today we had some luck and we hope this continues throughout the Western Swing.”

Antron Brown won in Top Fuel, Drew Skillman in Pro Stock, and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Brown edged teammate and No. 1 qualifier Leah Pritchett with a 3.792 at 319.82. He has three victories this season to push his career total to 64.

Skillman raced to his second straight victory and the fifth of his career, beating points leader Bo Butner with a 6.916 run at 198.15 in a Camaro.

Krawiec topped Matt Smith with a 7.145 at 188.28. The Harley-Davidson rider has two victories this season and 38 overall.

Sauber confirms Matsushita for Hungary test as well

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Honda junior driver Nobuhiro Matsushita will have a run with Sauber F1 Team on the second day of the Hungarian Grand Prix post-race week test, in the team’s C36 chassis.

Sauber’s engine selection for 2018 is up in the air. While the team announced a switch from year old Ferraris to Hondas, this was done under prior team principal Monisha Kaltenborn and rumors have persisted the deal may be off, or wasn’t fully done in the first place.

That Matsushita is running at this test for his first day in an F1 car – Gustav Malja will run on day one – could indicate the Honda switch isn’t yet a dead topic.

“When I was four years old, I was fascinated by Michael Schumacher, watching him racing in Formula 1. Since then my dream was to become a Formula 1 driver,” he said. “I am very excited about my first Formula 1 test and I am really looking forward to driving the Sauber C36-Ferrari at the Hungaroring – it is a great opportunity for me. I hope it will be a productive day for the team as well as for myself, so that I can learn as much as possible. I would like to thank the Sauber F1 Team for making this happen.”

New team boss Frederic Vasseur, formerly of Renault, gave his take on the test.

“I am pleased that Nobuharu has this great opportunity. He deserves the experience of his first test in a Formula 1 car. Ever since his debut in Formula 2 with ART Grand Prix, I have been following his progress closely, and have watched him advance his performance from year to year. With this Formula 1 test, he comes one step closer to his dream of becoming an F1 driver one day.”

Renault confirms Robert Kubica will test in Hungary

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Renault Sport F1 Team has confirmed Robert Kubica will make his return to a current Formula 1 car in the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test, which will only continue to fuel the hype train for a possible race return.

The Pole has undertaken two tests in recent weeks with older cars but this day in the Renault R.S.17 will provide the team a chance to evaluate him in current machinery to gauge his race level fitness.

It’s a story that has got the F1 world buzzing in recent weeks as Kubica, injured in a rally accident before the 2011 season, has made a comeback to restart his racing career.

Poor Nicholas Latifi, also confirmed for the test that runs the Tuesday and Wednesday after the Hungarian Grand Prix, will be undoubtedly overlooked as a result.

Jolyon Palmer will race in Hungary this weekend at least but whether the Brit continues beyond the summer break that follows afterwards remains a question mark.

Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean to launch cookbook

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Haas Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean may be one of the sport’s most promising talents on-track, but he also has a burning passion off it: cooking.

Grosjean may have been spent a good part of this year cooking his brakes, but you’ll now be able to cook bakes instead…

F1’s resident foodie is set to release a cookbook alongside wife Marion Jolles in the coming weeks, as announced on his Facebook page.

Grosjean currently sits 13th in the F1 drivers’ championship with 18 points to his name, helping Haas to match the points total from its debut season after just 10 races in 2017.