Former Chili Bowl Nationals champion Bryan Clauson died Sunday night after injuries he suffered in an accident at a dirt track race Saturday in Belleville, Kansas. He was 27.
Officials at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced his death Monday morning. He was airlifted to a hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska, after the accident, where his family says he "fought to the end."
Clauson was leading the race Saturday night when he crashed passing lapped traffic. His car rolled and was hit hard by another driver.
He won the 2014 Chili Bowl Nationals championship in Tulsa, and finished second this year behind Rico Abreu.
Clauson was on pace to compete in 200 races this year. He had 27 victories in 116 starts, and led three laps in the Indianapolis 500 in May.
A four-time USAC national champion, Clauson was aiming to become the winningest driver in series history.
He was a development driver for Chip Ganassi in NASCAR, where he competed in 26 races over the 2007 and 2008 seasons. He also spent several seasons driving for Tony Stewart's sprint car team. Stewart said after the NASCAR race on Sunday he hoped to see Clauson's parents and fiancee, Lauren, soon.
Known for his versatility, he also made four starts in the Indianapolis 500, including this past season.
Details are being finalized for a memorial service at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The family posted the following announcement on Facebook:
Last night, the 7th of August, we said goodbye to our son, my fiancé, our friend, Bryan Clauson. He was surrounded by family and friends and we were grateful that we could experience his final moments with him.
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.
We would like to thank everybody who has shown their concern toward us and kept us in their prayers. We will never be able to truly thank you. We would also like to thank the staff at Bryan Medical Center who stood and fought with our Bryan since he arrived here early yesterday morning.
We know that our Bryan is also your Bryan and that you would like to participate in honoring him. A service will be held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at a date and time to be announced soon. In lieu of flowers, or to make a donation, people may direct their contributions to the USAC Benevolent Fund website at http://usacbf.org/cash-donation/ or checks should be made out to the USAC Benevolent Foundation in the name of Bryan Clauson. The address is 124 E Northfield Drive, Suite F #129, Brownsburg, IN 46112.
Thank you for being a part of our Bryan's life.
Lauren, Tim, Di, and Taylor