Stenhouse remembers Bryan Clauson after first Cup win

After Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won at Talladega Superspeedway, he thanked his team. He thanked his boss Jack Roush. And he thanked his co-pilot on the last lap — the late Bryan Clauson.

Stenhouse remembers Bryan Clauson after first Cup win
Race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing Ford takes the win
Race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing Ford, Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Bryan Clauson's name on the car of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Bryan Clauson, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
A sticker remembering Bryan Clauson

Clauson lost his life last August while racing in the Belleville (Kansas) Midget Nationals. Stenhouse, 29, raced with--and for--the four-time USAC champion.

Stenhouse learned lessons from Clauson on and off the track.

“I lost one of my best friends, Bryan Clauson, last year in August, and we had a lot of good plans that we were wanting to have together, and they didn't work out,” Stenhouse said after his win. “But you know, the support of his family, the support of dirt track fans all across the country of myself and of Bryan and his family has been really cool to see.

“It's been a while now, and the support and the ‑‑ everybody remembering Bryan has not gone down at all. It's continued, and that's just the legacy I feel like Bryan left upon all of us.”

Clauson, 27, was an organ donor. His generosity enabled five others to live on. The Clauson family — including his fiancee Lauren Stewart — met with the heart recipient in Omaha over Easter weekend last month.

After the meeting, Stewart wrote in her blog, “Last night, my heart felt healed for the first time in eight months. My heart was happy because I got to feel and hear Bryan’s heartbeat again. Bryan’s heart is living on – beating inside of Dan the Heart Man.”

The week after Clauson passed away, Stenhouse and girlfriend Danica Patrick joined the Stewart and Bryan’s family in Knoxville, Iowa. They lent their support to the family and worked out of B.C.’s souvenir trailer.

In January, Stenhouse joined the Clauson-Marshall Racing effort in the Chili Bowl Nationals. He finished 16th in the finale.

Clauson's impact goes beyond racing

Initially, Stenhouse wasn't aware that Clauson was an organ donor. But it was Clauson’s initiative that has encouraged thousands of fans and racers to follow his lead.

“It's cool to see Bryan still helping people after he passed away,” Stenhouse said on Sunday. “I look forward to meeting people that Bryan helped along the way, and I signed up to be a donor right after that. If anybody is looking into it, Driven2Save Lives is a campaign in honor of Bryan Clauson this year. They're doing a lot of great work.

“It was cool to finally ‘park it’ in Victory Lane like Bryan always said, and I can't wait to call his dad and his fiancé Lauren when we're done.”

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