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Indianapolis 500 Preview: Bryan Clauson

Photo credit: IndyCar Media

#39 Mazda Road to Indy Dallara-Honda, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing

Born: June 15, 1989

Home: Sacramento, California

2011 RESULTS: Clauson finished fifth in last year’s Indy Lights Freedom 100, his debut for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in that series. He had earned the ride by virtue of winning the 2010 USAC National Drivers’ Championship, which afforded him a scholarship presented by IndyCar and sponsored by Mazda.

CAREER BEST: Clauson has never attempted an Indy 500 start before. But by virtue of winning the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship for the second year in a row, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard agreed to modify the prize to a guaranteed ride in a car running at Indianapolis.

OUTLOOK: Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing finally stepped up to the big time this season by running a car full-time for promising rookie Josef Newgarden. They’ll add a second car for this year’s Indianapolis 500 for Clauson, who scored four top fives in six oval events for Sam Schmidt Motorsports during the last Indy Lights season.

Newgarden and Clauson were two of the best oval drivers in last year’s Lights season, and swept the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis, the series’ most prestigious event; Clauson won the pole, while Newgarden won the race. Judging by the speed that both drivers have shown thus far in practice, frequently appearing towards the top of the speed charts, it won’t be a shock if Clauson has something big in the tank. And with plenty of motivation towards a strong run for both driver and team, particularly with the goal of landing sponsorship for the future, Clauson and Fisher alike will have something to prove come race day.

– Chris Leone

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