PUTNAMVILLE, Ind. – Brady Bacon ended his recent run of misfortune with the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series with a victory during the finale of the Bill Gardner Sprintacular at Lincoln Park Speedway on Saturday night.
Bacon stormed into the lead at the midway point of the 30-lap feature after starting eighth and never looked back, though he realized something was amiss shortly after taking the lead.
“When I got the lead, I think that’s when our tire started going down,” Bacon recalled. “I wasn’t able to make the speed I was able to make to get to the lead. I was kind of having to play defense and use the lapped cars as blockers.”
Luckily for Bacon everything stayed intact until the checkered flag, with the tire completely going down as he rolled into victory lane for the third time this season.
“I think if we would’ve had a yellow there at the end and that tire would’ve gone flat, I would’ve just driven it off the end of the track and came and got it later,” Bacon joked.
The victory for Bacon was the 32nd of his USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car career, tying him with 1973 series champion Rollie Beale for 12th all-time.
Starting eighth in the 24-car field, Bacon made quite a bit of headway early on, moving to seventh on the opening lap, to sixth on the second lap, to fifth on lap four, into fourth on lap five and finally to third by lap seven, interrupted only by a Max Adams lap two spin while running fifth and a lap four Stephen Schnapf flip in turn one from which he emerged without injury.
Justin Grant commanded the opening 14 laps, but nearing the halfway point, it was a tale of differing lines among the top-three of Grant, C.J. Leary and Bacon, with Grant utilizing the top of turns three and four and the bottom of one and two while Leary was glued to the bottom and Bacon was ripping the top.
On the 15th lap, Bacon was able to clear Leary off the second turn, then continued the roll to press by Grant off four to possess the lead by a nose at the stripe.
Grant attempted a succession of sliders on laps 16 and 17 into turn three past Bacon, but each time, Bacon had an answer and promptly cut back underneath Grant to reclaim the lead with Leary lurking on the bottom just about even with the two at the head of the pack.
“Justin was sliding up to the middle of four and I was leaving the gap into three really big,” Bacon explained. “It’s kind of a dangerous spot to be in even though it may be faster, but it’s not if he gets in front of me. I’m just racing as hard I could and trying to make good decisions and, fortunately, we didn’t make any bad enough to lose the lead.”
On the 19th lap, Leary was able to nip his way into second by Grant and relentlessly hounded Bacon in his pursuit to the front where he ultimately put himself in a position to pounce on Bacon when the leaders reached a throng of traffic with five laps remaining.
Leary surged ahead of Bacon while scurrying around the bottom with four laps remaining but had to readjust his line as he followed Adams on the bottom of turn one. That allowed Bacon, carrying the momentum up top, to surge back ahead of Leary off turn two, and beating the defending series champ to the line by a half-car length with now three laps to go.
Leary was able to eat up ground and briefly take the lead entering turns one and three, but Bacon shot off the exit of turns two and four each time to hold serve, barely. With two go, Bacon saw an opportunity with a slight break in the traffic to beat Leary in a race to the bottom of turn one, taking away Leary’s line.
Entering the final set of corners on the 30th and final lap, Leary was forced to follow Bacon around the infield tires while Grant made one final push off the rim as Bacon captured the victory with Leary just behind in second and Grant third in a top-three that was separated by a mere .172 of a second.
Those three were followed by Chase Stockon and Tanner Thorson.
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