Clauson conquers Smackdown finale

By Derek Fisher

What many considered an inevitability after Thursday night’s opener, became a reality at the conclusion of Saturday’s Sprint Car Smackdown finale at the Kokomo Speedway: Bryan Clauson is the champion of the inaugural event.

The Noblesville, In. driver started fifth at the outset of the 40-lap feature, overtook Tracy Hines for the top spot on the 16th circuit and was largely unchallenged for the remainder of the race. The victory netted Clauson $10,000, and capped a tremendous Smackdown weekend; the California native also bagged Thursday’s feature and was third in Friday’s preliminary.

“I can’t thank Kokomo Speedway enough for the great place they give us and stepping up to put on this big program,” Clauson said. “This is one of the best events we’ve ever had.”

Clauson, notorious for his aptitude for running around the bottom of the racetrack, joked after a finale that saw him put his machine wherever it needed to go.

“I was talking to some guys and they said it wouldn’t count if we won it on the bottom,” he said. “So we did what we had to do and showed them we can run anywhere (Saturday).”

Second-place starter Thomas Meseraull led the first eight laps of the A-main before Hines executed a pass for the lead in turn two on the ninth circuit. The race endured three stoppages, the most serious of which was a lap 34 tangle involving Jon Stanbrough, Robert Ballou and Chad Boespflug.

Ballou was transported to St. Joseph Hospital for observation.

Hines, Kevin Thomas, Jr., Dave Darland and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five.

Qualifying races were won by Coleman Gulick, Jonathan Hendrick, Stanbrough and Thomas, Jr. The B-feature went to Brent Beauchamp, while Hines defeated Meseraull in the final round of the King of the Hill two-car shootouts.