Sprint Car star Clauson hospitalized after crash in Kansas

Sprint Car driver Bryan Clauson remained hospitalized Sunday in critical condition following a harrowing accident in the Belleville (Kansas) Midget Nationals USAC midget race.

Clauson was airlifted to a hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska, following the Saturday night crash. His family offered no details regarding his injuries in a statement provided by Bryan Clausen Racing.

''We appreciate the support of the racing community and are thankful for the outreach we've received,'' the statement said. ''We ask that you continue to respect our privacy as we focus on Bryan.''

Clauson is considered the nation's top short-track dirt-car driver. He has won four USAC national championships and was participating in his 116th race of the season on Saturday night.

His schedule this year was on pace for 200 starts, and that included a 23rd-place finish in the Indianapolis 500.

The 27-year-old Indiana resident has started three Indianapolis 500s and 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.

''That kid drove for us for a long time and did a great job and never went anywhere,'' Stewart said. ''I don't care what happened, no matter how bad his day was, he always found a way to smile with it. Him and Lauren being engaged, kid had such a bright future.''

Stewart did not sound promising about Clauson's recovery.

''It sucks when it's anybody in racing, it's hard when you lose them, but it's even worse when they're somebody as close to you as Bryan was,'' Stewart said. ''I feel for Lauren today and Bryan's parents and his sister, and I hope to be able to see them soon. Just thinking about them more than anything right now.''

Clauson was a three-time winner and the defending champion at Belleville. He flipped off the guard rail between turns 3 and 4 while leading. His car rolled several times and was hit by another car.

It was his second wreck of the weekend.

He started seventh on Friday night before he was in another vicious wreck. After that accident, he posted on Twitter his appreciation for his safety equipment, his chassis manufacturer and his team for getting his car ready for him to race Saturday night.

Many top NASCAR drivers immediately took to Twitter to ask for prayers for Clauson, a driver well known and well liked in the racing community. Among those anxiously awaiting an update on his condition were Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson and Clint Bowyer, who all have roots in dirt racing and USAC.

''Wishing the best for (at)BryanClauson after a violent crash last night at Belleville Nationals,'' posted Jeff Gordon.

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