LAKE ODESSA, Mich. — Brady Bacon came into Saturday night’s AMSOIL National Sprint Car event at I-96 Speedway as the only driver to finish in the top-10 in each race this season. He has seen his share of frustration, however.
He finally cracked the win column this year after a hard-fought 30-lapper for the Hoffman Auto Racing team in the Mean Green – Lykins Oil No. 69 Triple X/Stanton Mopar.
“We have a really good package when there’s something to lean on like tonight — it seems like we’ve been hitting places that are slick-slick — and we’ve definitely been really fast on the bigger tracks. I’ve gotten a lot better on the half-miles and really like them now. I knew the bottom would be there for a little bit, but not last long, so I knew I had to go after it quickly and try to get by Bryan as soon as possible. We almost got him on the top, but we just had a really good car and could move around to get by him,” Bacon said.
Defending series champion Bryan Clauson jumped to the lead from the pole, but three-time 2013 winner Kevin Thomas Jr. wasted no time moving to the front. After rolling by Hunter Schuerenberg on lap two, Thomas drove by Clauson for the lead on lap three.
After stretching out a lead over the first run of the race, Thomas’ quest for a fourth win for the season abruptly came to an end when he shredded a right-rear tire on lap eleven.
Clauson resumed the lead, but Bacon was quickly pressuring him for the top spot, as Dave Darland joined the fray in the top-three. After a quick yellow for a Robert Ballou flat right-rear tire, another long green-flag stretch erupted as Bacon moved high and low on Clauson for the lead. After showing a nose low, Bacon moved to the outside of Clauson, who held him off. The next lap, Bacon moved low in turns one and two and came down the backstretch with the lead on lap 15.
Two late cautions slowed things again, but Bacon was relatively unthreatened as he took the win by 1.276 seconds over Clauson, who held onto second in the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing – Chevy Performance No. 20 Beast/Kistler.
“Watching the heat races and stuff, I thought the bottom might be there for a little bit. We knew we had to get to the top early, and then I dropped down there and he about drove around the outside of us. We went back to doing what we could on the top, but Brady was really, really strong tonight. They were in a league of their own. It was another great night, and stringing these top-fives together has been a huge stretch for us. I tend to get going in the middle of the summer anyway, so to click off some good nights, I feel good going into a busy part of the schedule,” Clauson said.
Off the final corner, tenth-starting Tracy Hines stuck the bottom to sneak by Darland to finish third in the Hansen’s Welding – Motor City Auto Transport No. 4 DRC/Stanton Mopar.
“We had a tire issue in qualifying that put us behind the eight-ball, and we were fast from then on. I-96 is a fast joint, for sure. I really didn’t think we’d be able to get going that well, just as fast as we were running around here. The bottom came in some, and with guys having trouble on the top, it played into us being able to get through there some. I’m happy to get third right at the end,” Hines said.
Darland retained his point lead after setting a New Track Record at 17.791 seconds and finishing fourth in the Phillips Motorsports – Racer’s Advantage No. 71P DRC/Foxco, and Ballou rallied to get back up to fifth in the Rick Pollock – Bates Commodities No. 21x Maxim/Advanced.