Bryan Clauson took his overdue first win in the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals A-main on Saturday night in Tulsa, Okla. To do so, he had to hold off four-time defending champion Kevin Swindell and a host of other challengers on the dirt.
“I’m just really relieved I didn’t throw it away because these guys are really good,” said Clauson, via the official race website.
Clauson took the lead with an inside pass of Caleb Armstrong on the sixth of 55 laps, and wasn’t headed the rest of the way. Swindell, meanwhile, was locked in a battle with Christopher Bell and Rico Abreu for second; the three swapped the spot in the late stages of the race on a series of slide jobs before Abreu spun on Lap 48.
Bell ended third with Alex Bright and Dave Darland completing the top five.
Chad Boat made it to 10th place in the 24-car field by the finish while Kyle Larson’s charge from 15th into the top five was halted with an engine issue. Other NASCAR drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kasey Kahne and J.J. Yeley all competed in the preliminaries but failed to advance into the A-main.
Clauson has long been a star on dirt, and he was able to make his IndyCar debut in the 2012 Indianapolis 500, in a second car for the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team. He was also one of Chip Ganassi’s development drivers on the NASCAR side. His performance Saturday night, which was televised live on MAVTV for the first time, again made onlookers take notice.