Clauson Scores Career-First Nationwide Pole in Daytona Effort, Finishes Night with Top 20
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 4, 2008) – Bryan Clauson and the Fastenal Team celebrated their Fourth of July this past Friday by grabbing the teen racer’s career-first NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) pole award and the No. 40 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) NNS team’s first pole of the 2008 season. From there, the CGRFS driver and team partnership proceeded to put forth a strong effort in the 105-lap race to finish 19th at the end of the night.
Clauson and team got in one full practice session Thursday that concluded with team slated sixth fastest. The NNS teams were scheduled to run a second practice Thursday evening, but the session was cancelled due to rain. Thus, the next time the teams were on track was to make their trial laps Friday afternoon. Clauson and the Fastenal Dodge were the third team to make their qualifying effort and proceeded to lay down a 49.831-second lap at 180.6 miles per hour. The effort placed the team in the top spot on the rundown and was never knocked out of first place which confirmed Clauson’s career-first pole award and the team’s first of the season.
The race got underway a few hours later. Clauson was very happy with the No. 40 Fastenal Dodge as the car felt pretty solid. The main problem Clauson seemed to encounter throughout his run was finding drafting help on the superspeedway. As a result, the CGRFS car seemed to bounce from inside the top five one minute and then outside the top 10 the next minute. Overall, Clauson and crew worked hard to maintain a top-15 run the majority of the night, overcoming a mid-race loose-handling condition in the process.
It was in the closing laps when the typical superspeedway late-race shuffle took place. As Clauson worked to maintain a top-10 run during the green-white-checkered finish, he couldn’t find anyone to go with him in the closing laps and was shuffled to a 19th-place finish.
The CGRFS NNS crew held onto its 17th spot in the NNS owner ranks. With a current tally of 2,094, the Fastenal team is 35 points outside of 15th and 223 out of 10th. Clauson was named Raybestos® Rookie of the Race for the fourth time this 2008 NNS season (two of the four have been earned in his last three NNS efforts). Clauson leads the NNS rookie class with a 28-point lead over his fellow CGRFS Fastenal Teammate Dario Franchitti (139-111).
The NNS teams head to Chicagoland Speedway this Friday to run the 20th race of the NNS season. The teams are scheduled to run 200 laps under the lights Friday, July 11, at Chicagoland. The event is scheduled to go green at 8 p.m. ET with live coverage starting at 7:30 pm ET on ESPN.
CGRFS Quote Board:
BRYAN CLAUSON: “In the beginning of the race, a lot of the Cup guys banded together and it looked like a Cup freight train rolling by me for a while. We kind of settled back there and picked our way towards the front. All of a sudden the car got pretty loose and I’m not sure if we were off a little bit on air pressure, but about 20 laps into the run we’d just got real, real loose. It was hard to really pass a guy unless I had him cleared mid-corner. Still, we had a really strong car there and I made an error on that restart and missed a shift and it cost us. I’m really disappointed for my team. They gave me a great car. We kind of fell off there in the middle of the race, got real loose. Not sure what happened there but we were still a top-five, top-10 car. Just made a mistake and cost us a good finish. I really hate it that I messed it up there for my guys because we deserved a lot better finish than what we got.”
Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
With 10 wins already in 2008, the team continues to add to its tally of 99 trips to victory lane. Chip Ganassi created his own one-car IndyCar team in 1990 and established a partnership with a new sponsor, Target. Today, his teams include two IRL IndyCars, and along with Felix Sabates he has three cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, two entries in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and a Daytona Prototype in the world of Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series racing. Ganassi’s IndyCar teams have amassed five Championships and 61 wins since 1994; his NASCAR teams have 12 wins and two Rookie-of-the-Year titles; and the Grand American team has won two Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Championships and are the three-time defending Champions of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Chip Ganassi Racing operates out of state-of-the-art race shop facilities in Indianapolis, Ind., and Concord, N.C., with a corporate office in Pittsburgh, Pa.