John Todd

Abreu wins race, Clauson wins title

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A week ago, Carmichael’s Bryan Clauson pulled the Indiana Double, competing and finishing in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, then hustling to Kokomo to compete in the Kokomo Klassic that evening, eventually winning the 30-lap main event.

Sunday night, the former track champion pulled off another double in its own right, finishing seventh in the midget feature event, but by virtue of his solid week in the annual running of the Indiana Midget Week, became the first driver to be crowned IMW champion three times.

As if that wasn’t enough, he climbed from his midget and back into his sprint car and dropped the hammer on the rest of the field, lapping all the way up to the sixth-place running car in one of the most dominant performances the track has seen in years.

In the midget main event, Rico Abreu scored a popular win, charging to the high side of the track fearlessly to get around Chad Boat on the 22nd lap of the 30-lap event.

Boat started from the pole and after beating Clauson into turn one, looked destined to score the first National Midget win of his young career. However, Spencer Bayston, Christopher Bell and Abreu had different ideas.

With Abreu running perilously close to the wall around the bullring, he was using the momentum from the high side to slowly reel in the front-running Boat and Bayston. After clearing Bayston on the 20th lap Abreu set his sights on boat and wrestled the top spot away with just eight laps remaining.

“It’s a testament to Keith Kunz and his race team that we had something like five different winners this past week,” said Abreu. “I knew coming in that Spencer, Bryan, Chris [Bell], Tanner [Thorson] were going to be tough to beat. It’s been kind of tough getting acclimated to all the different cars I’ve been driving this year. After a week back in the midget it all started to come together for me especially [Sunday].

“Kokomo is probably my favorite track,” he continued. “So to win here again feels pretty damn good.”

Bayston finished second followed by Boat, Brady Bacon and Bell in the top five. Clauson was sixth, Thorson seventh, Carson Macedo eighth, Dave Ray ninth and Ryan Robinson. Lincoln’s Dave Darland was a frustrating 22nd after getting caught up in an early-race accident that included Gage Walker, Tyler Nelson and Steve Buckwalter.

Just minutes after receiving his Midget Week trophy, Clauson quickly strapped into his sprint car and was running third when second-place running Kevin Thomas Jr. attempted a risky slide job on leader Colten Cottle on the eighth lap.

The move resulted in contact between the pair as both of them bounced off the turn four wall. Clauson, running third, slipped by the duo and simply blitzed the field the remaining 17 laps in a convincing win.

“It’s a testament to my dad and the guys who work on the race car,” Clauson stated. “I’d have to say running the midget feature kind of let me know what the track was doing so I went back to the pits and had the team free the car up so it would be strong for 25 laps.”

Thomas, who won the opening two weeks of the season at the track, kept alive his top three finishes streak with his runner-up performance.

“It’s been a great start with the team,” he said. “To have two wins and two seconds in four nights at Kokomo is very hard to do. That was a great race with the midgets and the sprints so I think the fans got to see a great show.”

Tyler Courtney was third, Bacon fourth and Tyler Hewitt fifth. Colten Cottle slipped to sixth following the contact with Thomas followed by his uncle, Shane Cottle who claimed seventh. Chad Boespflug, Logan Jarrett and Jerry Coons Jr. all finished with top-10 runs.

Kokomo drivers Josh Spencer (16th), Corey Smith (17th) and Conner Donelson (20th) all made the feature event.

In an attrition-filled Hornet feature, Loren Swanson caught a break when numerous front runners either were involved in accidents or suffered mechanical woes.

Swanson got past leader Josh Gamblin with just four laps remaining to score his first career feature win. Joe Murphy was second, Jamie Razo third, Gamblin fourth and Jacob Wilkinson fifth as they were the only cars still running when the checkered flag fell.

The track will be closed next Sunday, but return to action June 19. For a full schedule or more information, visit www.kokomospeedway.net.

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