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Bryan Clauson (1989 - 2016)

Getty / Marc Serota

Bryan Clauson (1989 - 2016)

Dirt track racer Bryan Clauson died Sunday of injuries sustained in a crash, according to the United States Auto Club (USAC). He was 27.

On Saturday night, Clauson was racing in the Belleville Midget Nationals in Kansas. He had recently taken the lead when he crashed.

Born June 15, 1989, in Sacramento, California, Clauson made his racing debut when he was just 16, taking third place in a USAC National Sprint Series race. Just months later, he would set a record as the youngest-ever USAC race winner, dominating at the Open Wheel Oktoberfest Midget race at Columbus Motor Speedway, Ohio.

Clauson became a frequent champion, racking up more than 170 feature wins over the next 11 years. He was a two-time USAC national sprint car championships winner as well as a two-time winner of the USAC national midget car championships. He was also a three-time winner of the Belleville Nationals, the race in which he was competing Saturday night.

Clauson competed in the Indianapolis 500 in 2012, 2015, and 2016, finishing 23rd in the most recent race. That 2016 Indy 500 run was part of his 2016 "Chasing 200 Tour, Circular Insanity," in which he was attempting to compete in 200 races during the year.

The night before his fatal crash, Clauson had crashed on the same track. Afterward, he tweeted a picture of his new car with the caption, "Took a tough hit last night, but the guys have me another hot rod ready for tonight's Belleville Midget Nationals!"

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In the wake of his death, Clauson was remembered by many in the racing world. Conor Daly tweeted, "Our sport has lost an incredible person. A winner more times than most of us will ever be. It was a true honor to be your teammate, Bryan." Danica Patrick's tribute read, "It's surreal to think Bryan Clauson is gone. He was one of the good ones. He was kind, funny, and a damn good driver. Heavy heart today." Kasey Kahne remembered Clauson: "Bryan Clauson was as good as they get behind the wheel and one of the nicest, happiest guys around. Always smiling and enjoying life..."

Clauson was a fan favorite who was also remembered extensively by fans with many tributes on Monday morning.

Clauson is survived by his fiancée, Lauren Stewart, whom he had planned to marry in February 2017.

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