BELLEVILLE, Ill. (Aug. 11, 2013)—Bryan Clauson led all 35 laps for his 20th career victory in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series and Nathan Benson won his third of the season in the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series in Arnie Kneeper Memorial features Sunday at Belle-Clair Speedway.
Clauson started on the outside of the front row next to Zach Daum and took the lead exiting turn two. The 24-year-old from Noblesville, Ind., was never challenged in taking back-to-back wins on the one-fifth mile track.
Clauson’s win was his first in the Knepper, which was run for the 21st time.
“It’s pretty special to put your name on a race like this,” Clauson said. “It was nice to go wire-to-wire. I committed to the top early and then moved around to the middle and bottom. We ran the same kind of package (on his Spike-Esslinger) we did in July (6) and it seemed to work.”
Zach Daum of Pocahontas, Ill., finished second and took over the POWRi points lead over Andrew Felker of Carl Junction, Mo., 2,420-2,320, with 17 of 30 events completed.
Daum has driven his Toyota-powered Eagle to one victory, three second places, a fourth and a ninth in the last six features. Felker was supposed to line up on the outside of the front row for the feature Sunday, but his engine didn’t fire and he was pushed into the infield and was credited with a last-place 22nd. It was the third feature in the past four events that the 2012 POWRi National Midget champion’s Spike-Fontana didn’t start.
“I’m glad to take over the (points) lead for Toyota, but I’d rather race Andrew to do it,” Daum said. “We were too tight on top and too loose on the bottom. Bryan was good on the top and bottom.”
Tyler Thomas of Collinsville, Okla., continued to rebound from a crash that destroyed his car in a heat race at Belle-Clair on July 5 and caused him to miss his only two features of the season by finishing third. Thomas has finished seventh or better in the past four POWRi features.
“I definitely feel that way (rebound),” Thomas said. “We’re learning more and more about our new Triple X (chassis). I love this place (Belle-Clair) more and more that it likes me more and more.”
Benson started on the outside of the front row next to pole sitter Derek LeMaster and ran second until the 12th lap. The 29-year-old from Concordia, Mo., squeezed his Pace-Suzuki inside LeMaster entering turn three and took the lead. He finished two car lengths ahead of runner-up Jeremy Camp of Blue Mound, Ill., and Joe B. Miller of Millersville, Mo., was third.
The POWRi Micros were racing for the fifth time this season and Benson’s previous best was fourth.
“We finally conquered Belleville and it feels good,” Benson said. “My throttle stuck open at the start and I had to spend the first half lap pulling it back with my foot. I knew the laps were winding down and I had to make a move to get the lead. I had to slow down to hit my marks and get down in the moisture on the track to get a drive off the corner.
“The (inside) wall is so close here, it can be a little risky down there. I’m happy to win a race that honors a driver who was so well know and popular in the St. Louis area.”
Benson’s fourth career win in POWRi Micros sliced 60 points off his deficit to championship leader Cale Thomas of Fairland, Ind. Second-place Benson trails Thomas by 140 points, 1,780-1640, with 11 of 19 events completed.
The Micro feature was green from start to finish. Camp, the 2010 POWRi champion, was charging hard in the closing laps.
“The traffic was what I needed to catch Nathan,” Camp said. “I was right behind him there at the end.”
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget feature results (35 laps): 1. Bryan Clauson, 2, Zach Daum, 3. Tyler Thomas, 4. Chett Gehrke, 5. Jake Blackhurst, 6. Terry Babb, 7. Daniel Adler, 8. Austin Brown, 9. Dereck King, 10. Parker Price-Miller, 11. Colten Cottle, 12. Garrett Aitken, 13. Tim Siner, 14. Alex Sewell, 15. Danny Frye, 16. Seth Motsinger, 17. Nick Knepper, 18. Dalton Camfield, 19. Justin Peck, 20. Daniel Robinson, 21. Tony Roney, 22. Andrew Felker.
POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series feature results (20 laps): 1. Nathan Benson, 2. Jeremy Camp, 3. Joe B. Miller, 4. Derek LeMaster, 5. Jimmy Stearns, 6. Aaron Andruskevitch, 7. Cale Thomas, 8. Kyle Schuett, 9. Jason Harms, 10. Kurt Westerfield, 11. Jimmy Wells, 12. Joey Wirth, 13. Jeremy Zumwalt, 14. Bryan Clauson, 15. Derek Schuett, 16. Shawn Knuckles, 17. Dereck King, 18. Brad McDaniel, 19. Jake Neuman, 20. Shelby Boise, 21. Mike Obst, 22. Alec Long.
For more information, go to www.powri.com.