USAC Driver Gets Path to Indy 500

Even though he grew up in the Indianapolis suburb of Noblesville, Ind., USAC driver Bryan Clauson figured the only way he’d get to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was in a stock car.

But starting in 2011, USAC standouts such as Clauson will have an Indy 500opportunity to jump on the Road to Indy through a partnership between USAC and INDYCAR, sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights.

INDYCAR will award the winner of USAC’s inaugural National Drivers Championship with a scholarship to compete in Firestone Indy Lights during the 2011 season. The scholarship will allow the 2010 USAC National Drivers Champion to run an oval schedule in Firestone Indy Lights, kicking off at the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“As we look forward to the future of INDYCAR, we feel it is important that we embrace our roots,” said INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard. “We are pleased we have formed this partnership with USAC, which was founded by Tony Hulman and produced legendary champions such as A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Johnny Rutherford and Mario Andretti. What better way to honor Mr. Hulman than to continue the tradition of USAC oval racers competing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

The USAC champion’s scholarship will allow short-track open-wheel drivers a path to the Road to Indy, the development ladder system launched by INDYCAR earlier this year for career-minded open-wheel formula car drivers.

“I have listened to countless fans say we need more American drivers and I don’t disagree, but I think it’s more important to say we want the best American drivers,” Bernard said. “I’m a firm believer in our official ladder system the Road to Indy. The experience the Road to Indy provides is essential for drivers to compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series. We hope to have some significant changes in the near future that enhance and strengthen the Road to Indy.”

The 21-year-old Clauson leads USAC’s National Midget Series and the National Drivers Championship, which is based on points earned in all three National Series – Silver Crown, Sprints and Midgets. Clauson leads Silver Crown champion and National Sprint Car series point leader Levi Jones by 22 points heading into the next USAC event at Perris, Calif.

“The partnership that INDYCAR and USAC have made is really exciting, and it’s really exciting to have a shot at an Indy Lights ride,” he said. “Growing up as a kid you’re always dreaming of the Month of May at Indianapolis and to have that be a reality is unbelievable and something that everyone in USAC is excited about.”

The USAC-INDYCAR partnership also includes cross-promotional marketing components that allow INDYCAR to become involved in USAC events as well as extend the IZOD IndyCar experience to USAC fans beginning in 2011.

“INDYCAR is the pinnacle of American open-wheel racing, and USAC is honored to have this opportunity to share this new relationship and build the Road to Indy through USAC,” said USAC President and CEO Kevin Miller. “We look forward to extending our heritage with Indy car racing while presenting new, exciting opportunities for our participants.”


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