By Richie Murray
Lawrenceburg, Indiana (October 3, 2020)………For Brady Bacon, it was an unconventional way to celebrate a victory, standing at his hauler with his crew, family and friends by his side as the winner’s trophy was presented to him Saturday night at Lawrenceburg Speedway.
Bacon was already cognizant of being crowned the 2020 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car championship by virtue of, what appeared to be, a second-place finish. Yet, after initial winner Tyler Courtney was found to be 15 pounds underweight during post-race tech inspection, Bacon was elevated to first place while Courtney was repositioned to the 22nd and final position in the results.
Anyway the cookie crumbled for Bacon, he’d take it, especially when it pays $10,000, which he pocketed after emerging victorious in the Fall Nationals all while becoming the 10th driver ever, and the first since Levi Jones in 2011, to win the final race of the USAC National Sprint Car season and the series championship in a single night, which he did aboard the Dynamics, Inc./Fatheadz Eyewear – DriveWFX.com/Triple X/Rider Chevy.
“I saw (Courtney) having some issues at the scales when we weighed, so I figured they were probably quite a ways off,” Bacon recalled. “It takes away a little bit of it, but it pays the same, so we’ll take it. Obviously, we’re very happy to win the championship, first and foremost, but winning the race is icing on the cake. I’ve only won one other USAC race here and it’s the home of the Hoffmans, kind of a local track for them. So, it makes it even more special.”
Bacon, who previously won USAC Sprint titles with Hoffman Auto Racing / Dynamics, Inc. in 2014 and 2016, brought home the Ohio-based team’s 12th USAC Sprint entrant title Saturday night.
But it was certainly not how Bacon could’ve drawn it up after a furious hard-fought battle down the stretch with Courtney which resulted in Bacon’s second career USAC Sprint win at Lawrenceburg (2015) and becoming just the seventh driver to win the series title at least three times in his career, joining Parnelli Jones (1960-61-62), Larry Dickson (1968-70-75), Sheldon Kinser (1977-81-82), Steve Butler (1986-87-88-90), Robbie Stanley (1991-92-93), Levi Jones (2005-07-09-10-11)
A 30-point lead was the margin Bacon began the night with over Chris Windom while Chase Stockon stood 40 points back in third. Those three were the only mathematically eligible championship contenders going in, and lo and behold, two of them – Bacon and Windom – occupied the front row for the start of the 30-lap feature, the first time since 2003 that the final race of the USAC Sprint season was not held out west.
Bacon had been in this position before as the winner of two previous titles, but he admitted the nerves were still in effect when it came down to crunch time. However, from the eye test, it appeared to be business as usual for the Broken Arrow, Okla. native as the night progressed.
“It’s almost more nerve wracking coming into a race having to just not mess up than it is to have to meet a certain bar,” Bacon explained. “Once we got through the heat races and stuff, the nerves kind of went away. Once we got the lead, it was just about trying to win the race. I felt like I kind of gave it away there. But obviously, we were able to get it back after the race, unfortunately for (Courtney).”
Bacon grabbed the early advantage on the start from his outside front row starting position, gliding around Windom to lead the opening 13 laps, and it quickly became evident that this wasn’t going to be a cruise-around effort for Bacon who, with a finish of 13th or better, would clinch the title regardless of whatever else transpired.
“You don’t want to do anything too stupid, but you’re here to race and here to win,” Bacon adamantly stated. “I might take a little bit less of a chance, but when you can smell the win, it’s hard not to go for it.”
By the 13th lap, Bacon had built his lead up to three-quarters of a straightaway around the 3/8-mile, high-banked dirt oval, and was working traffic 2.2 seconds ahead of Windom who was clinging to second and withstanding the challenges of Courtney for the runner-up spot.
A yellow on that 13th lap for the stopped car of 21st running Logan Seavey in turn four brought out the first caution period, which bunched up the lead pack, taking the lappers out of the equation for the time being. A one-lap sprint proceeded on the following circuit which Courtney utilized to slide by Windom for second on the bottom of turn four, before clearing him completely for the position in turn two.
With the 13th lap complete, 17th running Mario Clouser came to a halt atop turn three to force another yellow, which closed up Courtney on the tail of Bacon for the restart. Courtney didn’t take long to get rolling and powered under Bacon at the exit of turn four on lap 14, pointing the wheels up to the sky at the flag stand in the process.
Shortly thereafter, Courtney’s car began to billow smoke, draining water from the radiator lap-after-lap, but showing no ill effects as far as speed. Bacon managed to tighten up the gap on Courtney, however, and with eight to go, Courtney went full sail into turn one, getting out of shape and sideways on entry, a misstep which Bacon used to reclaim his role in the lead.
Bacon, now a 3-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion, was the victor for the 35th time in his USAC Sprint Car career, moving him into the top-ten all-time alongside Rich Vogler and Jon Stanbrough
(David Nearpass Photo)
Two laps later, Courtney had regathered it to track down and drape himself over Bacon’s machine for the lead. Using the momentum up top, while Bacon rode the low line, Courtney ripped by Bacon around the outside of turn four to take over the lead for good, in what seemed like the winning pass at the time.
After the victory lane photos were taken and the celebration carried on into the pits, Courtney’s car was brought to the scales for the standard post-race technical inspection. Courtney’s car was found to weigh 1,360 pounds on the scales, which is 15 pounds under the minimum requirement of 1,375. By rule, Courtney was repositioned to 22nd place and the balance of the field was bumped up one position.
In the final order, Bacon was the victor for the 35th time in his USAC National Sprint Car career, moving him into the top-ten all-time alongside Rich Vogler and Jon Stanbrough. Kevin Thomas Jr. earned a season-best second-place result with Windom third, C.J. Leary fourth and Robert Ballou fifth after starting 19th, which earned him KSE Racing Products Hard Charger honors for the evening. Stockon, a championship contender coming into the night, finished 15th after starting 22nd.
In Fatheadz Eyewear Qualifying, Jake Swanson earned his second career USAC National Sprint Car fast time award which was his first since 2016 at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: October 3, 2020 – Lawrenceburg Speedway – Lawrenceburg, Indiana – 3/8-Mile Dirt Oval – Fall Nationals
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING FLIGHT ONE: 1. Jake Swanson, 34AZ, Team AZ-13.659; 2. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-13.823; 3. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-13.826; 4. Chris Windom, 19, Hayward-13.849; 5. Shane Cottle, 74x, Hodges-13.863; 6. Scotty Weir, 4p, Pedersen-13.864; 7. Tye Mihocko, 5, Mihocko-13.903; 8. Dave Darland, 36d, EZR/Curb-Agajanian-13.922; 9. J.J. Hughes, 76, Hughes-13.974; 10. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-14.045; 11. Saban Bibent, 10, Bibent-14.111; 12. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-14.199; 13. Anthony D’Alessio, O1, D’Alessio-14.216; 14. Anton Hernandez, 36, Darland-14.234; 15. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-14.297; 16. Ryan Barr, 21B, Barr-14.479; 17. Ricky Lewis, 11, Lewis-14.715; 18. Steve Thomas, 27, Thomas-15.169; 19. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-16.124.
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING FLIGHT TWO: 1. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-13.914; 2. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-13.843; 3. Max Adams, 37, Felker-13.844; 4. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-13.866; 5. Mario Clouser, 6, Clouser-13.911; 6. Logan Seavey, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-13.972; 7. Carson Short, 17GP, Dutcher-13.989; 8. Sterling Cling, 34, Cling-14.011; 9. Cole Bodine, 57, Bodine/Crow-14.037; 10. Kevin Thomas Jr., 9K, KT-14.069; 11. Jadon Rogers, 61m, Edwards-14.143; 12. Joss Moffatt, 5J, Moffatt/Wright-14.314; 13. Andy Baugh, 8D, Schlattweiler-14.356; 14. Nick Bilbee, 17, Bilbee-14.432; 15. Chase Stockon, 5s, KO-14.477; 16. Justin Owen, 44, Fischesser-14.538; 17. Tony McVey, 7m, McVey-14.620; 18. Korbyn Hayslett, 1H, Hayslett-14.666.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. J.J. Hughes, 2. Shane Cottle, 3. Jake Swanson, 4. Brady Bacon, 5. Tye Mihocko, 6. Anthony D’Alessio, 7. Saban Bibent, 8. Matt Westfall, 9. Steve Thomas. 1:58.635
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Tyler Courtney, 2. Scotty Weir, 3. Dave Darland, 4. Chris Windom, 5. Brandon Mattox, 6. Ryan Barr, 7. Robert Bell, 8. Robert Ballou. NT
AUTOMETER THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Cole Bodine, 2. Carson Short, 3. Mario Clouser, 4. C.J. Leary, 5. Jadon Rogers, 6. Max Adams, 7. Chase Stockon, 8. Andy Baugh, 9. Tony McVey. NT
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 2. Justin Grant, 3. Kyle Cummins, 4. Joss Moffatt, 5. Sterling Cling, 6. Nick Bilbee, 7. Logan Seavey, 8. Justin Owen, 9. Korbyn Hayslett. 1:58.148
INDY METAL FINISHING SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Logan Seavey, 2. Robert Ballou, 3. Max Adams, 4. Chase Stockon, 5. Tye Mihocko, 6. Nick Bilbee, 7. Brandon Mattox, 8. Sterling Cling, 9. Jadon Rogers, 10. Saban Bibent, 11. Anthony D’Alessio, 12. Andy Baugh, 13. Korbyn Hayslett, 14. Justin Owen, 15. Ryan Barr, 16. Tony McVey, 17. Robert Bell, 18. Steve Thomas. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (2), 2. Kevin Thomas Jr. (9), 3. Chris Windom (1), 4. C.J. Leary (5), 5. Robert Ballou (19), 6. Kyle Cummins (11), 7. Justin Grant (3), 8. Dave Darland (18), 9. Jake Swanson (6), 10. Cole Bodine (8), 11. Scotty Weir (14), 12. Max Adams (10), 13. Shane Cottle (12), 14. Tye Mihocko (16), 15. Chase Stockon (22), 16. Carson Short (17), 17. J.J. Hughes (7), 18. Logan Seavey (15), 19. Nick Bilbee (21), 20. Mario Clouser (13), 21. Joss Moffatt (20), 22. Tyler Courtney (4) (Courtney was initially declared the winner but was repositioned to 22nd for being 15 pounds underweight in post-race tech inspection.) NT
**Steve Thomas flipped during the semi.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Brady Bacon.
FINAL USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Brady Bacon-1,739, 2-Chris Windom-1,700, 3-Chase Stockon-1,655, 4-C.J. Leary-1,616, 5-Justin Grant-1,614, 6-Kevin Thomas Jr.-1,382, 7-Dave Darland-1,271, 8-Carson Short-1,250, 9-Kyle Cummins-1,175, 10-Robert Ballou-1,128.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-185, 6-Robert Ballou-86, 2-Tanner Thorson-99, 4-Kyle Cummins-90, 3-Shane Cottle-95, 5-Logan Seavey-89, 7-Justin Grant-85, 8-Cannon McIntosh-84, 9-Brady Bacon-78, 10-Chase Stockon-71.
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Jake Swanson
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: J.J. Hughes
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Tyler Courtney
AutoMeter Third Heat Winner: Cole Bodine
Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Winner: Kevin Thomas Jr.
Indy Metal Finishing Semi Winner: Logan Seavey
KSE Racing Products Hard Charger: Robert Ballou (19th to 5th)
Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher: Shane Cottle
Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer: Brandon Mattox
Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier: Dave Darland