Top dirt-track racer Bryan Clauson dies from crash injuries

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BELLEVILLE, Kansas -- Bryan Clauson, considered the top dirt-track racer in the country, has died from injuries suffered in an accident at the Belleville (Kansas) Midget Nationals USAC midget race. He was 27.

His death was announced Monday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A statement from his family was read that said Clauson died Sunday evening and "fought to the end."

Clauson was leading the race Saturday night when he crashed passing lapped traffic. His car rolled and was hit by another competitor. He was airlifted to a hospital in Nebraska, and died surrounded by his family.

Clauson was on pace to compete in 200 races this year. He had 27 victories in 116 starts, and led three laps in the Indianapolis 500 in May.

A four-time USAC national champion, Clauson was aiming to become the winningest driver in series history.

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.