It’s A Hand Full For Bacon In USAC Sprints

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Brady Bacon en route to victory at Lincoln Park Speedway. (Ryan Sellers photo)

PUTNAMVILLE, Ind. – Brady Bacon and Lincoln Park Speedway have been a perfect match for one another ever since a magneto issue sidelined Bacon prior to the start of the feature on July 3.

Since that point, Bacon reeled off a victory there the following night, then recorded a runner-up finish in the first feature on Saturday, followed up by another victory in the second feature of the doubleheader to close out Saturday night.

Adding the cherry on top, Bacon and Dynamics, Inc. reclaimed the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series driver and owner point leads in the process, after falling back to third in the pecking order following a 10th-place result Friday at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway.

“Lincoln Park – two features in one day, a first and a second,” Bacon exclaimed. “You can ask for a little better than that, but not much better. We’ll definitely take it after we struggled last night at Bloomington.”

The victory was Bacon’s 34th in USAC National Sprint Car competition, putting him just one behind Jon Stanbrough and Rich Vogler for 10th all-time.

Though Bacon leads the points, he aims not to just merely point race. He intends to win races and let the points sort out however they may, and he’s accomplished that better than anyone else in the series this year.

Saturday’s victory marked the Broken Arrow, Okla., driver’s series-leading fifth triumph of the year.

“We’re pretty fortunate to be in the battle at all,” Bacon said. “We had some mistakes early in the year. To even be in the hunt, we’re pretty fortunate for than and that other people had some misfortune. So, we’re just taking it a day at a time, just going out here and winning races. Obviously, you have that in the back of your mind when you see other guys struggling a little bit.

“You kind of have to put it in a little bit of a conservative mode and not do anything stupid, but at the same time, you want to go out and win races.”

Bacon started the second 30-lap feature from fifth on the grid, but it was A.J. Hopkins taking off to the early advantage from the pole position for the first two corners on the opening lap.

However, it was a resurgent Kevin Thomas Jr. who secured the lead on the end of the opening lap, powering to the front with a big run off the top of turn four to lead by a car length at the line.

Bacon dropped back to seventh during the opening laps, cruising the top early on as he sought to figure out the best path forward to get to the front.

He discovered a trail a little bit lower than seemingly everyone in front of him.

“I got a little worried there at the beginning,” Bacon admitted. “The top kind of got rolled in, then I thought, ‘you know what, it’s going to get dirty up there. They aren’t going to be able to run up there.’ So, I just started rolling the bottom, rolling the bottom and it came in and we got to hitting that bottom off turn two.”

Trouble ensued for Hopkins on lap eight, as he, C.J. Leary and Mario Clouser were involved in a fight for second. Leary slid past Hopkins off turn four. Behind him, however, Clouser’s right front wheel climbed Hopkins’ left rear, which resulted in damage to the left side nerf bar of Hopkins’ ride and a flat left rear tire.

That ended Hopkins’ night prematurely with a 22nd-place result.

When racing resumed, Leary took the fight right to Thomas for the race lead. Leary drove by Thomas with a slider in turn three on the lap eight restart, providing him the lead at the line by a half car length.

However, Thomas replied with a slider of his own in turn one, reclaiming the position, albeit briefly. Leary ducked back under exiting turn two to retake the spot, which he’d hold throughout the mid-portion of the race.

As Thomas and Clouser chased Leary on the topside, Bacon utilized the catfish line to take third from Clouser on the 10th lap, then moved to second by Thomas on the 13th lap.

Another three-lap increment later, Bacon wheeled the Dynamics, Inc./Fatheadz Eyewear – DriveWFX.com/Triple X/Rider Chevy No. 69 underneath Leary in turn two on lap 16 to snare the lead once and for all.

The timing couldn’t have been any better from Bacon’s point of view.

“We’re able to get to the lead, then it started laying rubber,” Bacon recalled. “So, I thought we were pretty safe. I was worried about it laying rubber on the top, but you can’t really give up what you’re doing when you’re in the lead.”

Bacon stayed the course for the entirety of the second half of the event, hitting the bottom lap after lap. The top four began to drift to the bottom of the surface as they tried to keep pace with Bacon, but Bacon continued to pull away from the rest of the field.

Shane Cottle, who started 17th and won at LPS with USAC back in early July, found the bottom early, and drove all the way up to third place with 10 laps remaining.

But for Bacon, it was three sails to the wind as he posted a full-straightway advantage with five laps to go while beginning the process of entering the tail end of the field in traffic.

Despite that fact, Bacon’s lead never dwindled as he executed a perfect performancehis third career USAC victory at LPS. He also captured a non-sanctioned sprint car victory at LPS in June.

At the checkered, Bacon was 3.964 seconds ahead of Leary, Cottle, Thomas and Friday night’s Bloomington winner Chris Windom.

Cottle’s third-place performance netted him B&W Auto Mart/KSE Hard Charger honors for the night after starting 17th in the feature.

Leary’s series-leading fifth fast time of the year during Fatheadz Eyewear Qualifying was the 28th of his USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car career, surpassing Dave Steele and Chase Stockon for sole possession of 12th all-time.

To view full race results, advance to the next page.