Teen phenom Zeb Wise held off hard-charging runs from NASCAR stars and his Clauson-Marshall Racing teammates for a storybook win in the second annual Driven2SaveLives BC39 Powered by NOS Energy Drink on Sept. 5 at The Dirt Track at IMS.
Wise, 16, prevailed after a thrilling four-lap shootout with two of his Clauson-Marshall Racing teammates, Tyler Courtney and Chris Windom. Courtney finished second and Windom third.
Angola, Indiana, native Wise earned $15,000 for his third USAC National Midget victory of the season in the No. 39BC sponsored by the race's title sponsor, Driven2SaveLives, and co-owned by Tim Clauson, the father of race namesake Bryan Clauson.
The race name, distance and Wise's number are in honor of USAC champion and Indianapolis 500 veteran Bryan Clauson, who died in a racing accident in 2016. Clauson and his father spotted Wise's talent during a quarter-midget race five years ago at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Tim Clauson asked Wise to join the team as a development driver just a few months after Bryan's tragic death.
|Indy Speedway President Doug Boles and Zeb Wise|
"What a cool moment for not only me and the No. 39BC as Bryan's last pick, but the Clauson-Marshall guys finished 1-2-3," Wise said in Victory Lane. "It doesn't get much better than that. It's pretty amazing. It wouldn't be possible without you amazing fans.
"We're all one big family back there at Clauson-Marshall. It just shows what Bryan can do, with him, (IMS President) Doug Boles and Scott Petry setting this whole race up. Actually, I'm way blown away to be the winner tonight. I don't have words. It hasn't sunk in."
Wise didn't sail smoothly to the win. He started fifth and quickly jumped to second behind pole-sitter Thomas Meseraull. A caution with 21 laps to go in the 39-lap feature bunched the field, and on the restart, Wise shot to the lead with uncanny anticipation of the green flag.
He held the lead through to another caution, but lurking behind him was Wednesday night's Stoops Pursuit winner and NASCAR Cup Series star Kyle Larson, who rallied through the field after starting 16th. On the restart, Wise bolted to a five-car length lead, forcing Larson to chase.
With 12 laps to go, Wise held off Larson in a sizzling battle for the lead. Then, the two drivers made contact in Turn 2. Wise was riding the cushion of dirt against the outside wall and forced Larson to make the pass on the bottom. When Larson made the pass, he slid into Wise's car.
At the same time, another caution came out, and the battle between Wise and Larson continued.
This time Larson didn't let Wise escape on the restart. Larson dove to the bottom in Turns 3 and 4 to pass Wise, who was still riding the high line. As Larson made the pass, Wise caught the wall. Larson and Wise made hard contact, cutting Larson's left rear tire and ended his night and dream of a sweep of both races this week on the quarter-mile dirt oval in the IMS infield.
Wise kept second place behind 2018 BC39 winner Brady Bacon, but the contact bent Wise's steering arm, setting him up for a long remainder of the night as he manhandled his car.
Bacon held the lead for four laps under green, but Wise jumped back into the lead for good with seven laps remaining.
|Wise prostrates himself and kisses the filthy dirty yard of bricks in the dirt covered wall|
During all the chaos, NASCAR Xfinity Series star Christopher Bell made his way to third and was charging hard for the lead. But Bell drove into Turn 3 too hard, hit the wall and flipped. He was unhurt, but his race was over.
That set up the thrilling four-lap shootout for the win between the Clauson-Marshall Racing drivers, with Courtney unable to challenge his teen teammate for the victory.
"The kid is frickin' 16 years old, and he beat some of the best in the business," said Courtney, who started 20th. "Second sucks, but to sweep the podium with Clauson-Marshall is pretty incredible."
It's no coincidence that Wise drives the No. 39BC since Wise was Bryan Clauson's last protégé. It all started at Indianapolis.
Tim and Bryan Clauson's saw Wise competing in the Battle at the Brickyard USAC quarter-midget race in 2014. They were impressed with Wise's driving ability. After the event, they introduced themselves to the Wise family. That led to Wise immersing himself in the Clauson-Marshall Racing team one summer during Indiana Sprint Week and learning under Bryan's wing.
This is Wise's second year driving the No. 39BC. He picked up his first career win in July 2018 and broke Clauson's record as the youngest-ever USAC National Midget winner. Wise backed up that victory a month ago by claiming two wins during Pennsylvania Midget Week, including out-dueling Larson on Aug. 1 at Action Track USA.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the top finisher among the NASCAR drivers in the feature, placing seventh. Larson rebounded to finish ninth after his team replaced his flat tire under caution. Bell came home 15th, and Indiana native Chase Briscoe finished 24th.
FIRST QUALIFIER: (10 laps) 1. Tyler Thomas (#91T Thomas), 2. Thomas Meseraull (#7x RMS), 3. Kyle Larson (#97 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 4. Jerry Coons, Jr. (#25 Petry), 5. Jake Neuman (#3N Neuman), 6. Holley Hollan (#67K Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 7. Ethan Mitchell (#19m Bundy Built), 8. Jonathan Beason (#21FS Reynolds), 9. Tyler Nelson (#88 Nelson), 10. Mark Chisholm (#56x Chisholm), 11. Jeff Wimmenauer (#15J Wimmenauer), 12. Conor Daly (#35 Petry), 13. Luke Howard (#00 Mounce), 14. Carson Garrett (#15x Garrett), 15. Ryan Hall (#2 Bush). NT
SECOND QUALIFIER: (10 laps) 1. Zeb Wise (#39BC Clauson/Marshall), 2. Tucker Klaasmeyer (#27 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 3. C.J. Leary (#21KS Reynolds), 4. Brady Bacon (#76E FMR), 5. Tanner Carrick (#71K Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 6. Cody Swanson (#71s Campbell), 7. Robert Dalby (#4D Dalby), 8. Brent Beauchamp (#43 Arnold), 9. Andrew Layser (#47BC Clauson/Marshall), 10. Alex Bright (#1ST Saucier), 11. Chris Baue (#9 Baue), 12. Ray Seach (#54m Manic), 13. Rich Drangmeister (#3 Drangmeister), 14. Lance Bennett (#10 Bennett). NT
|A good crowd was on hand to eat some Indiana clay|
THIRD QUALIFIER: (10 laps) 1. Christopher Bell (#21 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 2. Justin Grant (#4A RAMS), 3. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (#5 Petry), 4. Logan Seavey (#67 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian), 5. Cannon McIntosh (#08 Dave Mac), 6. Ace McCarthy (#28 Neuman), 7. Nick Drake (#55 Cline), 8. David Prickett (#15DJ Neverlift), 9. Colten Cottle (#56AP Young), 10. Chris Jagger, Jr. (#32J Jagger), 11. Kendall Ruble (#11m Martin), 12. Cody Weisensel (#20 Weisensel), 13. Trey Osborne (#61 Kenyon), 14. Jesse Colwell (#71 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian). NT
FOURTH QUALIFIER: (10 laps) 1. Dillon Welch (#81 Tucker/Boat), 2. Spencer Bayston (#19 Hayward), 3. Tyler Courtney (#7BC Clauson/Marshall), 4. Chad Boat (#84 Tucker/Boat), 5. Chase Briscoe (#5B Briscoe), 6. David Budres (#23m Manic), 7. Daniel Robinson (#57D McCreery), 8. Brayton Lynch (#1K RKR), 9. Karsyn Elledge (#1 Tucker/Boat), 10. Kyle O'Gara (#67F SFHR), 11. Oliver Akard (#41 Akard), 12. Michael Klein (#10A Wallace), 13. Ken Drangmeister (#76 Drangmeister). NT
FIFTH QUALIFIER: (10 laps) 1. Gio Scelzi (#85 Tucker/Boat), 2. Jason McDougal (#76m FMR), 3. Chris Windom (#17BC Clauson/Marshall), 4. J.J. Yeley (#2J Taylor), 5. Tony DiMattia (#50 TDM), 6. Kyle Jones (#7u Trifecta), 7. Steve Buckwalter (#25B Buckwalter), 8. Russ Gamester (#46 Gamester), 9. Dave Darland (#15 Petry), 10. Aaron Leffel (#11L Taylor), 11. Matt Linder (#2x Bush), 12. Kevin Studley (#57K Studley), 13. Randi Pankratz (#8 Pankratz), 14. Blaze Bennett (#77 Bennett). NT
SIXTH QUALIFIER: (10 laps) 1. Michael Pickens (#1NZ RMS), 2. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (#17 Clauson/Marshall), 3. Chase Jones (#1BR SFHR), 4. Matt Westfall (#54 Bordner), 5. Sam Johnson (#72 Johnson), 6. Critter Malone (#7 Seven), 7. Austin O'Dell (#97A O’Dell), 8. Clinton Boyles (#9B Mounce), 9. Shannon McQueen (#15s Garrett), 10. Tommy Kouns (#11T Taylor), 11. Justin Dickerson (#21D Dickerson), 12. Zach Daum (#5D Daum), 13. Robert Bell (#71B Bell), 14. Billy Wease (#12w Wease). NT
FIRST D-MAIN: (12 laps, top-3 transfer to the C-Main) 1. Jonathan Beason, 2. Jesse Colwell, 3. Andrew Layser, 4. Karsyn Elledge, 5. Colten Cottle, 6. Randi Pankratz, 7. Kyle O'Gara, 8. Chris Baue, 9. Justin Dickerson, 10. Kevin Studley, 11. Kendall Ruble, 12. Ryan Hall, 13. Chris Jagger, Jr., 14. Rich Drangmeister, 15. Clinton Boyles, 16. Blaze Bennett, 17. Ray Seach, 18. Oliver Akard, 19. Brayton Lynch. NT
SECOND D-MAIN: (12 laps, top-3 transfer to the C-Main) 1. Brent Beauchamp, 2. Dave Darland, 3. Alex Bright, 4. Tyler Nelson, 5. David Prickett, 6. Mark Chisholm, 7. Luke Howard, 8. Carson Garrett, 9. Aaron Leffel, 10. Shannon McQueen, 11. Cody Weisensel, 12. Lance Bennett, 13. John Heydenreich (#22 Givens), 14. Conor Daly, 15. Matt Linder, 16. Tommy Kouns, 17. Robert Bell, 18. Michael Klein, 19. Jeff Wimmenauer, 20. Ken Drangmeister. NT
C-MAIN: (15 laps, top-6 transfer to the semi) 1. Sam Johnson, 2. Robert Dalby, 3. Kyle Jones, 4. Jesse Colwell, 5. Ace McCarthy, 6. Zach Daum, 7. Holley Hollan, 8. Nick Drake, 9. Dave Darland, 10. Daniel Robinson, 11. Brent Beauchamp, 12. Jonathan Beason, 13. Cody Swanson, 14. Alex Bright, 15. David Budres, 16. Critter Malone, 17. Russ Gamester, 18. Austin O'Dell, 19. Andrew Layser, 20. Ethan Mitchell. ???
SEMI: (20 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Christopher Bell, 2. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 3. Jerry Coons, Jr., 4. Tyler Courtney, 5. Chase Briscoe, 6. Cannon McIntosh, 7. Sam Johnson, 8. Jesse Colwell, 9. C.J. Leary, 10. Tony DiMattia, 11. Tanner Carrick, 12. Jake Neuman, 13. Ace McCarthy, 14. Zach Daum, 15. Kyle Jones, 16. Steve Buckwalter, 17. Robert Dalby, 18. Matt Westfall, 19. Chase Jones, 20. J.J. Yeley. NT
FEATURE: (39 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Zeb Wise (5), 2. Tyler Courtney (20), 3. Chris Windom (6), 4. Chad Boat (16), 5. Logan Seavey (14), 6. Jesse Colwell (24), 7. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (15), 8. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (3), 9. Kyle Larson (12), 10. Justin Grant (11), 11. Dillon Welch (8), 12. Tanner Carrick (23), 13. Michael Pickens (4), 14. Gio Scelzi (9), 15. Christopher Bell (17), 16. Brady Bacon (10), 17. Jason McDougal (7), 18. Cannon McIntosh (22), 19. Thomas Meseraull (1), 20. Spencer Bayston (2), 21. Tyler Thomas (13), 22. Tucker Klaasmeyer (18), 23. Jerry Coons, Jr. (19), 24. Chase Briscoe (21), 25. Jake Neuman (26), 26. C.J. Leary (25). NT
**Alex Bright flipped during the second qualifying race. Jesse Colwell flipped during the third qualifying race. Robert Dalby flipped during the semi. Tucker Klaasmeyer and Jerry Coons, Jr. flipped on lap 19 of the feature. Thomas Meseraull flipped on lap 28 of the feature. Cannon McIntosh flipped on lap 31 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-18 Thomas Meseraull, Laps 19-28 Zeb Wise, Laps 29-32 Brady Bacon, Laps 33-39 Zeb Wise.
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Jesse Colwell
B & W AUTO MART/KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Tyler Courtney (20th to 2nd)
WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Michael Pickens
SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS FIRST NON-TRANSFER: Sam Johnson
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Tyler Courtney-1,517, 2-Chris Windom-1,403, 3-Logan Seavey-1,350, 4-Zeb Wise-1,286, 5-Kevin Thomas, Jr.-1,284, 6-Chad Boat-1,208, 7-Jerry Coons, Jr.-1,147, 8-Tanner Carrick-1,129, 9-Jason McDougal-1,069, 10-Tucker Klaasmeyer-1,034.
FINAL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Jesse Colwell-34, 2-Tyler Courtney-23, 3-Zach Daum-18, 4-Chad Boat-16, 5-Dave Darland-16, 6-Logan Seavey-15, 7-Cannon McIntosh-13, 8-Sam Johnson-13, 9-Chris Windom-12, 10-Thomas Meseraull-12.