Indiana native Bryan Clauson ready for special Indy 500 return

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If it has four wheels, Bryan Clauson has likely raced it in his career.

At one point or other, Clauson has competed in NASCAR, ARCA, IndyCar, Indy Lights, sprint cars and midgets and more.

Included in his career highlights are being a two-time USAC National Sprint Car champ, a two-time USCA National Midget champ, three-time USAC National Driver’s champ and two-time National Midget Driver of the Year.

But there’s something about racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that has always been No. 1 on the 25-year-old Noblesville, Ind., native’s list.

In 2011, while competing on the Indy Lights circuit, Clauson took the pole and finished fifth in the Firestone Freedom 100.

The following year, Clauson stepped up to the big time and fulfilled his dream of racing in the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.

Driving for Sarah Fisher Racing, Clauson unfortunately didn’t exactly have the finish he hoped for, ultimately completing just 46 of the 200 laps due to handling issues. He started 31st and finished 30th.

But as Jim Nabors likes to sing about being back home again in Indiana, Clauson is likewise back in his home state and preparing to compete in his second Indy 500 start in the 99th edition on May 24th.

“It’s good to be back, it’s been a long three years since we’ve been here,” Clauson said in a recent teleconference.

This second go-round is particularly special for Clauson, as he’ll be representing one of the 500’s long-time sponsors, Jonathan Byrd Racing.

Byrd, who owned the well-known Jonathan Byrd’s Cafeteria restaurant in the Indianapolis area, passed away in 2009 at the age of 57 due to cardiac arrest.

“It’s exciting to come back with KVSH and Jonathan Byrd (and) obviously Jonathan Byrd is making their return to the Speedway,” Clauson said. “It’s a special time for everybody involved and we’re excited.”

Byrd began sponsoring teams in the 500 in 1985, including the 1996 race-winning car of Buddy Lazier and Panther Racing.

Byrd’s last year of sponsorship at Indy was in 2005, but a decision was made last year to return for this year’s race – marking the 30th anniversary of Byrd sponsoring a team at Indy – and to join forces with KVSH Racing.

The choice of Clauson was a no-brainer. Jonathan Byrd II, elder son of the late Jonathan Byrd, announced nearly a year ago that the company would return to sponsor a car in the 2015 Indy 500.

“Not only is Bryan going to be our Indy 500 driver next year (2015), it’s our intention that he be our Indy 500 driver for the next 15 years,” the younger Byrd said at the time. “He is a great fit for our brand, and we hope to be in the BC (Bryan Clauson) business for many years to come.”

Having passed his 500 refresher test, Clauson is going to have a busy month between the 500, practice, qualifying and several sprint car and midget races thrown in for good measure.

But Clauson likes the variety he’ll experience this month.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in my career running every night of the week basically in anything from USAC,” he said. “We’d run a quarter mile on Friday, a dirt mile on Saturday, and head to Anderson Sunday in a pavement car. So you kind of learn to adapt.

“You just kind of got to come in, hit the reset button, and try to think back to the things I did right in 2012. There were some things I did wrong. So you try and make note of those and try to remember not to do that again and you kind of almost start from scratch.”

Knowing he’s had an IndyCar ride for the month of May for a year has been both important and comforting for Clauson.

“They were pretty serious about this program and obviously they wanted to plan it out, you know, by announcing it a year in advance,” he said.

“It’s been a lot of fun to kind of go through the process with not only them, but the team as well, and build a program basically from the ground up that hopefully will be around for a little while.”

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World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws
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The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)