November 29, 2016 – As 2016 has evolved, Brady Bacon and the Frank Manafort Racing #76m have become a team to be reckoned with on the USAC National Midget Series trail. Turkey Night proved to be a battle between the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma driver and none other than Kyle Larson. The 98-lap battle ended with Larson winning by a mere .303 seconds over Brady. The second place run took place amongst a field of 54 midgets Thanksgiving night at Ventura Raceway in California. Brady finished the season third in USAC National Midget points. The team will now aim for the “Junior Knepper 55” at the Southern Illinois Center in DuQuoin on December 17.
It was evident early on that Brady was going to be fast. “We were fastest in the first two practice sessions on practice night,” he says. “The last session we went ahead and filled the car with fuel, and we were still sixth quick overall.”
A lap of 12.277 seconds on race night was good enough for the Jason Leffler Fast Time trophy. “We were able to set quick time,” says Brady. “We had a good draw that helped us a little bit, but we obviously had a fast car. A couple guys made us nervous, but we were able to hold on. It’s really cool to win that. It’s a neat trophy and a great award. It’s one of the cooler awards I’ve ever won.”
Quick time locked Brady on the pole for the 98-lap finale. “We made some changes to the car for the length of the race,” he says. “But we didn’t quite have the car in the feature that we had all week. We were still really close and had a really good car. We just weren’t ready for the changes that occurred.”
He would lead the first 20 laps. “We started out in front and Kyle got by us there,” says Brady. “They worked the track before the feature and I knew that it would move eventually. He got to the top first and got around us. We were behind him for a while and got up beside him several times towards the end. We just couldn’t quite close the deal.”
Brady would settle for runner-up honors. “There was some lapped traffic late, and we just couldn’t maneuver the way we wanted,” he says. “We gave him all we had. We just came up a little short. He’s a tough guy to beat once he’s in front.”
At season’s end, the team was just 47 points behind USAC champ, Tanner Thorson. “I’m extremely proud of the team and the progress we’ve made this year,” says Brady. “We went from struggling at the beginning of the year, to being the team to beat at the end without any bad luck. I’m really looking forward to the races coming up at DuQuoin and the Chili Bowl. Also, I feel we have a great shot at the championship next year.”