Bacon The 20 Grand Man At Corn Belt Nationals

By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
KNOXVILLE, IA – As it turned out, Brady Bacon’s show of strength in Friday’s opener was just the warm-up act for what was in store during Saturday night’s inaugural Brandt Professional Agriculture “Corn Belt Nationals” finale at Knoxville Raceway.
The two-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champion from Broken Arrow, Okla. backed up his Friday night victory at Knoxville with a masterfully dominating win Saturday night, leading all 30 laps en route to an 8.286 sec. triumph worth $20,000 that was never in doubt from start to finish, although at the end, he had to escape a maze of lapped traffic.
But, as it turned out, Bacon was in a race of his own, and the only competitive race for position was long behind, nearly a half-lap behind him.  Bacon was A-Okay with that.
“I was like, ‘Doug, Doug, throw the white, let’s go.  I’m done with this,” Bacon said referring to flagman Doug Clark.  “I was having some trouble with those lapped cars, and the cushion was getting really treacherous.  Lapped cars were biking in front of me and I was like, ‘man I don’t want someone else to collect me up in this.’  Obviously, you don’t know how good you are. The competition in USAC is so tough right now, I assumed someone was breathing down my neck.”
Bacon started from the outside of the front row alongside “Corn Belt” high-point man Justin Grant.  Bacon took charge instantly, sweeping across Grant’s nose to take the bottom line into turn one before sliding up to the cushion to secure the spot with USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car point leader C.J. Leary in tow.
Leary took his shot at Bacon with a slider in turn one on the third lap, but Bacon was unrattled and swept around the outside of Leary to regain control and blast away for a 10-car-length lead.  With five laps in the books, Bacon was up by a half-straightaway and, by lap 10, the lead was a full-straight (4.5 seconds) over Leary with lapped traffic looming.
Initially, the traffic situation was tepid as Bacon ripped above and between the tail end of the field.  Yet, seemingly defying the norm, the deeper into traffic Bacon got, the more he built his lead, to more than seven seconds with 10 laps remaining.  Leary and 2018 Knoxville USAC winner Tyler Courtney’s pursuit of Bacon was like the bystander chasing the proverbial dollar bill on a fishing line, with the lead seemingly out of reach, as those two waged their own war down the stretch.
Yet, unlike stick and ball sports, a blowout lead can literally vanish in the blink of an eye in sprint car racing.  With five laps remaining, Bacon entered turn one behind the lapped car of Nick Bilbee.  Bilbee biked it on the cushion about six or seven car lengths in front of the leader.  Bacon was seemingly unfazed, but it certainly caught his attention as he counted down the dwindling laps.
“I was like, ‘Doug, Doug, throw the white, let’s go.  I’m done with this,” Bacon said referring to flagman Doug Clark.  “I was having some trouble with those lapped cars, and the cushion was getting really treacherous.  Lapped cars were biking in front of me and I was like, ‘man I don’t want someone else to collect me up in this.’  Obviously, you don’t know how good you are. The competition in USAC is so tough right now, I assumed someone was breathing down my neck.”
However, that wasn’t the case at all.  Bacon had the field scattered, smothered and covered.  Only a caution seemed to be the thing that could put the result in doubt.  Behind him, though, Leary and Courtney had their own score to settle with the difference between second and third worth $6,000.  Courtney got by Leary on lap 23 in traffic.  Leary stayed in the hunt and pounced when Courtney stumbled on the cushion, going underneath Courtney for the position in turn four two laps from the finish.
Up front, Bacon was harvesting the field to the tune of more than eight seconds, closing out the biggest payday of his USAC Sprint Car career just less than a year after capturing the biggest prize in all of Midget racing in 2018, the $15,000-to-win BC39 at The Dirt Track at IMS.
Trailing Bacon at the finish line were Leary, Courtney, Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Chris Windom.
Bacon’s recent surge on the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship trail began with a top-flight performance in the Eastern Storm opener at Pennsylvania’s Grandview Speedway, which paid the previous season-high series’ winner share of $10,000, beginning a string of three wins in the past five races that culminated in Saturday’s $20,000 victory.
“We’ve been working hard, unfortunately we haven’t gotten to race a lot,” Bacon said, referring to the plague of rain throughout the season.  “We picked up some momentum in Eastern Storm and we carried it into here.  Anytime you can run well here is awesome.  Obviously, the big check makes it a lot better.”
Bacon became the first driver to reach three USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victories on Friday night and the first to elevate to the four-win mark with Saturday’s win.  It was the 27th series win of Bacon’s career, moving him past Tony Elliott and Dave Steele into sole possession of 16th on the all-time list, and just one behind the 28-win mark held by Levi Jones and J.J. Yeley.
Contingency award winners Saturday night at Knoxville Raceway included Justin Grant (Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier & Simpson Race Products First Qualifier Winner), Chase Stockon (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Qualifier Winner), Tyler Courtney (AutoMeter Third Qualifier Winner), Brady Bacon (Indy Race Parts Fourth Qualifier Winner), Korey Weyant (KSE Racing Products Hard Charger), Wyatt Burks (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher), C.J. Leary (Roger & Barb Tapy 13th Fastest Qualifier) and Glen Saville (Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer).
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USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: July 6, 2019 – Knoxville Raceway – Knoxville, Iowa – Inaugural Brandt Professional Agriculture “Corn Belt Nationals” – 1/2-Mile Dirt Oval (Co-Sanctioned by the POWRi Lucas Oil WAR Sprint League)
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING GROUP ONE: 1. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-19.312; 2. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-19.719; 3. Riley Kreisel, 90, Smith-19.771; 4. Chad Boespflug, 98e, EZR-19.818; 5. Carson Short, 21, RCM-19.847; 6. Kory Schudy, 28, Sawyer-19.866; 7. Landon Simon, 24s, LSR-19.972; 8. Cody Gardner, 9G, Appco-20.050; 9. Dave Darland, 42, Cheney-20.122; 10. Mitchell Davis, 56, Davis-20.129; 11. Don Droud, Jr., 1m, Burch-20.259; 12. Rob Caho, Jr., 78, Caho-20.311; 13. Nick Bilbee, 17, Bilbee-20.320; 14. Ryan Bernal, 17B, Baughman/Reutzel-20.425; 15. Glen Saville, 75x, Saville-20.702; 16. Chris Morgan, 7c, Williams-20.730; 17. Terry Richards, 18, Richards-21.019; 18. Brandon Halverson, 13MJ, Halverson-21.031; 19. Katlynn Leer, 77K, Leer-21.094; 20. Jori Hughes, 19x, Layton-21.125; 21. Braydon Cromwell, 4A, Cromwell-21.846; 22. Steve Thomas, 20, Thomas-22.283; 23. Isaac Chapple, 52, LNR/Chapple-NT; 24. Doug Sylvester, 12x, Sylvester-NT (Time of 21.767 disallowed).
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING GROUP TWO: 1. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 19, Hayward/Thomas-19.823; 2. Jason McDougal, 71p, Daigh/Phillips-20.121; 3. C.J. Leary, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-20.168; 4. Matt Westfall, 33m Marshall-20.194; 5. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall/Newman-20.241; 6. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-20.323; 7. Chris Windom, 5G, Goacher-20.386; 8. Wyatt Burks, 11w, Burks-20.386; 9. Wesley Smith, 12, Helm-20.477; 10. Josh Hodges, 74x, Hodges-20.589; 11. Anthony Nicholson, 16, Nicholson-20.694; 12. Mario Clouser, 6, MCM-20.805; 13. Korey Weyant, 99, Weyant-20.965; 14. Dustin Christie, 75, Christie-21.024; 15. Timmy Buckwalter, 7, LNB-21.196; 16. Logan Faucon, 52F, Faucon-21.319; 17. Slater Helt, 22s, Helt-21.414; 18. Steve Irwin, 0s, Flying Zero-21.461; 19. Dickie Gaines, 44, Soudrette-21.692; 20. T.J. Artz, 57, Artz-21.782; 21. Brandon Stevenson, 0, Stevenson-21.966; 22. Lane Stone, 73, Stone-22.008; 23. Chris Parkinson, 65, Parkinson-22.091; 24. Frank Rodgers III, 6R, Rodgers-NT; 25. Brian VanMeveren, 24, VanMeveren-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST QUALIFIER: (10 laps) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Carson Short, 3. Nick Bilbee, 4. Riley Kreisel, 5. Dave Darland, 6. Glen Saville, 7. Landon Simon, 8. Terry Richards, 9. Katlynn Leer, 10. Braydon Cromwell, 11. Doug Sylvester, 12. Don Droud, Jr. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND QUALIFIER: (10 laps) 1. Chase Stockon, 2. Ryan Bernal, 3. Mitchell Davis, 4. Kory Schudy, 5. Chad Boespflug, 6. Cody Gardner, 7. Chris Morgan, 8. Rob Caho, Jr., 9. Brandon Halverson, 10. Jori Hughes, 11. Steve Thomas. 3:33.53 (New Track Record)
AUTOMETER THIRD QUALIFIER: (10 laps) 1. Tyler Courtney, 2. C.J. Leary, 3. Chris Windom, 4. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 5. Anthony Nicholson, 6. Timmy Buckwalter, 7. Dickie Gaines, 8. Korey Weyant, 9. Slater Helt, 10. Brandon Stevenson, 11. Chris Parkinson, 12. Wesley Smith. NT
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH QUALIFIER: (10 laps) 1. Brady Bacon, 2. Wyatt Burks, 3. Jason McDougal, 4. Matt Westfall, 5. Mario Clouser, 6. Josh Hodges, 7. Lane Stone, 8. T.J. Artz, 9. Steve Irwin, 10. Logan Faucon, 11. Frank Rodgers III, 12. Dustin Christie. NT
C-MAIN: (10 laps, top-6 transfer to the semi) 1. Chris Morgan, 2. Brandon Stevenson, 3. Lane Stone, 4. Slater Helt, 5. Jori Hughes, 6. Brandon Halverson, 7. Doug Sylvester, 8. Steve Thomas, 9. Braydon Cromwell, 10. Frank Rogers, 11. Chris Parkinson. 3:42.19
SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Dave Darland, 2. Josh Hodges, 3. Anthony Nicholson, 4. Kory Schudy, 5. Korey Weyant, 6. Steve Irwin, 7. Glen Saville, 8. Cody Gardner, 9. Mitchell Davis, 10. T.J. Artz, 11. Lane Stone, 12. Chris Morgan, 13. Rob Caho, Jr., 14. Katlynn Leer, 15. Dustin Christie, 16. Dickie Gaines, 17. Terry Richards, 18. Brandon Stevenson, 19. Logan Faucon, 20. Jori Hughes, 21. Slater Helt, 22. Brandon Halverson, 23. Landon Simon, 24. Don Droud, Jr. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (2), 2. C.J. Leary (4), 3. Tyler Courtney (6), 4. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (5), 5. Chris Windom (8), 6. Justin Grant (1), 7. Jason McDougal (7), 8. Chase Stockon (3), 9. Ryan Bernal (12), 10. Carson Short (11), 11. Matt Westfall (9), 12. Korey Weyant (23), 13. Wyatt Burks (10), 14. Josh Hodges (20), 15. Nick Bilbee (14), 16. Dave Darland (19), 17. Mario Clouser (16), 18. Steve Irwin (24), 19. Kory Schudy (22), 20. Anthony Nicholson (21), 21. Riley Kreisel (13), 22. Chad Boespflug (15), 23. Timmy Buckwalter (18), 24. Wesley Smith (17). 11:08.75
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**Wesley Smith flipped during the third heat.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Brady Bacon.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Korey Weyant (23rd to 12th)
WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Wyatt Burks
ROGER & BARB TAPY 13TH FASTEST QUALIFIER: C.J. Leary
SALDANA RACING PRODUCTS FIRST NON-TRANSFER: Glen Saville