It’s that Firestone Indy Lights role that brings him this weekend to the Milwaukee Mile. To hear Clauson tell it, he’s just happy to have the opportunity with Fan Force United.
“It was kind of something that just happened,” admitted Clauson. “They had an opening for the next few ovals come up and they had a sponsor for Iowa and they went actively searching for a driver. I don't know if I was call #1 or call #100, but I gladly accepted when the phone rang.”
While his partnership with Fan Force United is recent, that doesn’t mean Clauson hasn’t set some serious goals for their efforts.
“We obviously want to run as well as possible, so the goals are to win. I ran pretty well at Milwaukee last year and was really strong at Iowa, so the two tracks are ones that I’ve ran well at and am familiar with. I think the hard part is we haven't really had any ovals to see where everyone stands this year. The Freedom 100 is a pack race that is basically who can draft the best, so it'll be interesting to get to Milwaukee and see where we stand”.
Despite the return to Lights and a new team, Clauson states the book isn’t closed on the partnership he had for the Indy 500 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.
“Both myself and SFHR are working tirelessly to be back out on the track at some point this year,” Clauson stated. “I like our chances, but we will see what happens.”
|Clauson finished P4 in Lights at|
Milwaukee in '11.
(Courtesy IndyCar Media)
“The overall experience was amazing. Sarah, Wink [Hartman], and everyone at SFHR did everything they could to make sure it was a truly special experience for me, and it was,” he said. “We had a great first 3/4 of the month, and I think showed that we could be competitive in the Indy Car Series. I think there were a lot of positives things to take away from the month even though it got to be a little bit tough on us there at the end.”
Despite the rough ending (P30) at this year’s 500, Clauson remains anxious for more. He said he is not only “100%” focused on getting back to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, but also talked about his feelings in being a part of the race itself.
“Indy is such a unique place. You pour your heart and soul into something for 4 weeks (really longer because Indy prep starts long before May) and to have it end in the way that it did, was kind of heartbreaking. I still think there are a lot of positive things to take away from the month that we had, and hopefully we will be back to build on those positives.”
While Clauson’s immediate focus is this weekend’s action, he’s also still working on adding a third USAC National Championship to his list of accomplishments. In fact, he picked up a couple of sprint car victories earlier this month.
“It’s going well,” Clauson said of his USAC title hunt. “but we are in the hunt and I feel good about our chances for a three-peat!”
With IndyCar, Indy Lights, and USAC all a part of his 2012 racing schedule, Clauson should also feel good about his chances of remaining extremely busy for the foreseeable future.