DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
The Byrd family’s return to the Indianapolis 500 this month didn’t end as desired.
Bryan Clauson, who was driving for the Greenwood-owned KVSH/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing Team, crashed on Lap 61 of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, which was won by Juan Pablo Montoya.
Clauson, driving the Jonathan Byrd’s/Cancer Centers of America Chevrolet, made contact with the wall in Turn 4, damaging his car and ending his race.
A Noblesville resident, Clauson started the race on the outside of the 10th row in 30th position, was classified in 31st place after completing 61 laps. He was checked out and released from the IU Health Emergency Medical Center at the track.
He was not injured and cleared to drive later this week.
The crash concluded a bittersweet month for Clauson and the Byrd family. Clauson was making his second Indy 500 start, and Jonathan Byrd’s Racing was sponsoring an entry for the first time since 2005.
Clauson, who’s first Indy 500 start was in 2012, was trying to stay out of the leading car’s way, but in doing so had his problems.
“It wasn’t really that hard of a hit, that angle there,” Clauson said. “We were trying to run our own race, and our car just went away there towards the end of that first run.
“(We) fell back from the pack and was right there in the thick of some leaders, trying to get to the bottom and just got up a little high.”
Although the 31st-place finish was a long way from the fifth place finish that former driver Buddy Lazier got for the Byrd Family in 2005, competing again at Indianapolis was huge for the Byrd family, particularly for brothers Jonathan II and David.
They plan to return for next year’s 100th running of the race.
“Yes, we’ll try again next year. That’s what we always do,” Jonathan Byrd II said. “We’re focused on the Indianapolis 500, and there’s some things we’ll be announcing next month. We’re excited.”
As always, the start of the race proved exciting, as Clauson had no troubles at the start and was trying to establish a groove for one of the longest races of the season.
Clauson avoided a first lap incident between Takeo Sato and Sage Karam. But unfortunately for Clauson, he was the cause of the second yellow.
Jonathan II said Clauson was complaining about the car being a little loose, but he wasn’t sure if that had anything to do with the accident.
“(I) got up in the marbles, and there was no saving it,” Clauson said. “I feel bad for my guys. These KVSH/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing guys worked really hard this month. Obviously, we struggled for speed all month.
“We were hanging in there just trying to run 500 miles, and it was a dumb mistake, and it’s a bummer.”
Although Clauson’s accident didn’t affect the race of two other contenders, Ed Carpenter and Oriol Servia, it was Clauson’s causing the yellow flag laps that had Servia wondering about the track.
Both Servia and Carpenter collided later on in the race on Lap 113, in Turn 1.
“I’m just very upset that they didn’t send the sweepers early enough in the yellow and when Clauson crashed,” Servia said. “He crashed because there were already so many marbles out there, and I was on the radio telling them ‘you need to clean, you need to clean,’ and if they wanted some racing, they needed to clean.”
Despite the accident, Jonathan II said he was happy with Clauson’s performance for the month.
The short-track specialist didn’t waver despite originally qualifying 33rd and last and waiting out a challenge from former Byrd driver Buddy Lazier on Bubble Day.
“He was running good by himself,” Byrd said. “He kept pushing.”