KNOXVILLE, Iowa — An outstanding night of racing greeted a great crowd at Knoxville Raceway in Friday’s Brandt Professional Agriculture Corn Belt Nationals opener.
Brady Bacon notched his second career win at the half-mile oval after six lead changes during the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car/POWRi War feature.
He earned $5,000 aboard the Hoffman Racing No. 69 entry and became the first repeat victor with USAC in their eleven trips here.
In the non-stop 25-lap Corn Belt Nationals feature, Kevin Thomas Jr. led early over Chris Windom and Matt Westfall. Windom shot around Thomas to lead lap two, while Justin Grant took third from Westfall. It was clear that Bacon had speed early, when he jumped from sixth to fourth on lap four.
Up front, Thomas regained the lead from Windom on lap five, while Bacon took third. Bacon used a middle groove to take second from a cushion riding Windom on lap six, creating a three-way duel for the point. Windom would bounce back to lead lap seven.
Bacon reeled in the leader, and when Windom missed the bottom of turn one on lap 12, took his first lead of the event. A lap later, Bacon made the same mistake, and Windom was back up front. On lap 14, Windom bobbled over the cushion in turn three, and Bacon rode back by for good.
The leaders entered lapped traffic on lap 16. Tyler Courtney, who won here a year ago, battled with Thomas for third behind the leaders. Windom closed in the late stages, but Bacon was able to just maneuver enough in traffic to take his second win here.
Bacon’s win came over Windom, Thomas, Courtney and Grant. Ryan Bernal, Chase Stockon, hard-charger Jason McDougal, C.J. Leary and Westfall rounded out the top 10.
“I really love this place,” said Bacon. “It’s fun to be able to do in this car, what I’d like to be able to in our wing car when we run the Nationals when we see Donny (Schatz) and everyone who runs the bottom and middle so good. I think, just having a lot of laps here…more than the competition helped me a little bit here to know that middle would come in and things like that. I was having to run a little different line, but I was able to catch the marbles in the middle and get some speed to pass a couple guys. It is testing to slow down and run the bottom. Windom almost got back by me, but fortunately we had a car good enough to make up for my mistakes.”
“Lapped cars were in the way, but you’re going to have that at a place like this,” said Windom. “If you miss the top or the bottom, you’re hung out to dry. Those guys seemed to do that in front of me. We had a good side-by-side battle I felt almost the entire race. I think I could have got back by him there if circumstances were different, but he ran a good race and hit his marks. I didn’t think the bottom would stay that good for us. You just had to hit it perfectly to make it work. That’s what Brady did to get by us. I think we’ll put on another good show tomorrow.”
To see full results, turn to the next page.