Rainier Ehrhardt/Associated Press
Former NASCAR driver Bryan Clauson died Sunday as a result of injuries suffered in a crash at the 2016 Belleville Midget Nationals in Kansas on Saturday.
He was 27.
Clauson’s fiancee released a formal statement on the family’s behalf via Facebook:
Our Bryan fought to the end with the same desire that he demonstrated behind the wheel of all the various race cars he would park in victory lane. However, we were more proud of our Bryan that took a moment to make a young fans day, or demonstrated his uncommon kindness and appreciation toward his friends, family and fans.
Clauson was taken to a Nebraska hospital in critical condition Saturday night after crashing in the sprint midget race at Belleville High Banks. He was leading the race at the time when he approached lapped traffic, per Robin Miller of Racer.com.
Another racer, Ryan Greth, made contact with Clauson, sending him hard into the fence. Clauson’s car then rolled multiple times before hitting the cockpit of another vehicle. The race was red-flagged while medical personnel removed him from the car.
“This is truly one of the darkest days in the 60-year history of the United States Auto Club,” USAC President and CEO Kevin Miller said, per Jim Utter of Motorsport.com.
Driver Justin Marks offered his condolences:
There aren’t enough competitors in our sport like @BryanClauson and now there’s one less. RIP my friend.
— Justin Marks (@JustinMarksDG) August 8, 2016
Clauson raced the Indianapolis 500 three times, including a career-best 23rd-place finish this year. He led three laps in the race, his first on the IndyCar circuit. He also completed 26 races in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series between 2007 and 2008.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles said the following, per Utter:
Bryan Clauson combined his passion and enthusiasm for grassroots racing with a God-given talent that made him the favorite to win every time he got in a midget or sprint car. And he proved on the world’s largest racing stage – by leading three laps in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 – that he could use that talent in just about anything with wheels.
Clauson was one of the most accomplished midget racers on the circuit. He had already recorded 27 wins in races across the country in 2016.
He is survived by his fiancee, Lauren, sister, Taylor, and parents, Tim and Diana.
Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.