Stenhouse honors Clauson with Bristol performance
Ricky Stenhouse paid tribute to a fallen close friend and fellow racer in the best way possible: by driving the wheels off of his car in Sunday's rain-delayed Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
In that race, Stenhouse carried a special paint scheme and wore a helmet that honored the late Bryan Clauson, who perished Aug. 7 following a crash at the Belleview (Kansas) Midget Nationals.
At Bristol, Stenhouse matched his career-best finish by bringing the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford home second to race-winner Kevin Harvick.
"We really wanted to get this Bryan Clauson tribute car in Victory Lane," Stenhouse said after the race. "It just wasn't meant to be today. We made our car a lot faster throughout the race and came from two laps down to get back on the lead lap. We missed some wrecks and gave it all we had."
Stenhouse has endured a couple of tough weeks since Clauson's accident, which he knew right away was serious. "I just had a feeling that it wasn't good," Stenhouse said after seeing the crash.
Last week, Stenhouse went to the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals, the biggest sprint car event of the year and spent time with Clauson's family and his fiancee, Lauren Stewart.
"It's definitely been tough, but I think going to Knoxville and being with his family, being with his fiancee, and being with friends that we all had a great time together talking about it," said Stenhouse. "Talking through things and talking about all the good things that Bryan did and his organ donation really helped a lot of us really feel comforted with what he was still doing after the fact."
Stenhouse attended one memorial for Clauson last week and will go to another on Wednesday.
"The service Thursday this past week was one of the toughest days that I think I had," he said. "But, again, just being there and telling stories really helped us all get through it.
"His fiancÃ©, Lauren, has been a rock. She's supporting everybody even though you think it would be the other way around. She's really helped a lot of people, so we're really looking forward to getting there Wednesday, and, again, just being with all the racing family that we were able to always be around."
As for the late Clauson, Stenhouse said he was a racer's racer who died doing what he loved.
"All he wanted to do was race and that's what he was doing and leading one of the biggest races of the year," Stenhouse said of Clauson. "If he had to choose a way to go out, I feel like that was the way he wanted."