Hagen Picks Up Sam Pierce Chevrolet 50 Victory
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Darren Hagen didn’t officially lead a
lap of Wednesday’s “Sam Pierce Chevrolet 50” USAC National Sprint Car Series
feature at Anderson Speedway.
But the Riverside, Calif. native was
credited with leading the most important lap – which happened to be Lap 35 – in
the rain-shortened event, giving Keith Kunz Motorsports its second straight
Hagen and leader Daron Clayton tangled on Lap 35, then a second rain shower
persisted to cover central Indiana and bring out the second and final red flag,
which ultimately ended the race. Since the tangle occurred under green flag
conditions, Clayton was sent to the rear of the field. The race was called only
five minutes after the rain returned.
Clayton appeared to have his first victory wrapped up after staying up front
nearly the whole time, taking the point on the second drop of the green flag
after the initial start was waved off due to a six-car incident in Turn 3. Tim
Barber challenged Clayton side-by-side throughout the lap before the yellow came
Clayton then roared past Barber and kept him at bay for nearly 34 laps, with the
advantage never increasing to more than eight car lengths. When Lap 25 came
around, the Top 7 drivers were running nose-to-tail.
A tangle between Tracy Hines and Bryan Clauson sent both spinning, yet Clauson
kept his foot on the throttle and – after nearly four 360s – got back on the
track without a problem. However, he flat-spotted a tire during the incident,
and when the green came back out, Clauson stopped on Turn 2. Though his crew was
prepared to change the tire, Clauson exited out the wrong side of the track, and
was stopped scoring after 28 laps.
The loss of fourth and fifth allowed breathing room for Hagen on the restart,
but just barely. Walker/Guiducci teammates Dave Darland and Dave Steele were
ready to pounce on a minor mistake.
Drivers were given the green again, but this time only for five more laps, when
Scotty Weir spun in Turn 2. The yellow flag was thrown, and immediately, rain
began dropping. Shortly after, the red flag was displayed.
But shortly before, the complexion of the event changed. Barber, who chased
Clayton since the start of the race, hit the wall after apparent contact with
another car. With that circumstance in place, the drop of the green flag would
place Barber at the end of the line.
Those prayers were not answered, when the rain stopped moments later, and after
nearly a 40-minute delay in which track officials dried the quarter-mile, cars
were sent back into the infield. Because Barber’s incident damaged the car too
much to continue, Hagen was moved to second with the green.
Ten minutes later, the green flew
again, and Hagen didn’t allow Clayton the opportunity to get a jump. Hagen
stayed on Clayton’s car’s tail tank for two and a half laps before making a pass
attempt entering the backstretch.
Hagen had his front wheels even with Clayton’s rear wheels going into Turn 3,
when contact occurred. The tangle sent Clayton spinning and into the outside
wall, while Hagen barely kept the car from spinning and continued. Weir also
spun in Turn 3.
The field spent the next few minutes
circling through the infield, and finally – after Clayton’s car was removed from
the track – the rain returned. This time, it only took a short shower before
officials pulled the plug on the final 15 laps.
Due to USAC rules, Clayton was placed on the tail of the lead lap, finishing
When the results were affirmed, Hagen
was determined the victor, with Darland and Steele following. Defending series
champion Levi Jones finished fourth, with Eric Gordon – in the same car he plans
to compete in during Saturday’s “Little 500” – finishing fifth. Gordon crashed
his No. 51 machine Sunday at Concord Motorsport Park and the repairs were not
made in time.
Steele broke his track record, taking the top qualifying spot in 11.279 seconds.
Lee Boss, Ryan Litt, Josh Wise and Brian Gerster were eight-lap heat winners,
while Steele won the 12-lap semifeature.
Wise continues to lead the point
standings by 22 over Jones, who assumed second over Bud Kaeding, who was 12th in
the feature. Wise was 10th.
For additional information contact Anderson Speedway at (765) 642-0206.