Hagen Picks Up Sam Pierce Chevrolet 50 Victory

By USAC Racing

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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 victory.

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 out.
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 14th.

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.