By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Kokomo, Indiana- Brady Bacon entered Saturday night’s USAC Midget National Championship feature as the only driver in the field to have previously won a race in the series at Indiana’s Kokomo Speedway.
After 30 laps were complete, the story remained the same as Bacon outdueled Spencer Bayston in the waning laps to take his fourth career series win and second at Kokomo, the site of his very first USAC National win in 2006.
The Broken Arrow, Oklahoma native pulled double-duty Saturday on night one of the “Kokomo Grand Prix.” Moments after finishing in the runner-up spot to Justin Grant in the Kokomo Sprint Car portion of the program, Bacon lined up outside the second row at the start of the Midget feature.
Wasting no time, Bacon found his way to the front of the field, slipping under Chad Boat for the race lead exiting turn two on the opening lap. Bacon worked the middle while Boat climbed the ladder up to the top side as the pair locked down the top two positions in the opening third of the event.
After a caution for a Tyler Nelson spin, the ensuing lap 10 restart witnessed the most frightening incident of the evening. Third-running Tyler Courtney biked his way into the first turn, then proceeded to flip nose-to-tail several times before coming to a rest on top of the hood of Clauson/Marshall Racing teammate Justin Grant’s car just short of the turn one concrete. Courtney would climb out of the car under his own power, though his night was finished. Grant would restart from the tail and, by race end, would claw his way back to a sixth-place finish.
On the second lap 10 restart, Boat’s right foot was cocked and locked as he fired past Bacon into turn one. Bacon responded by diving underneath Boat, outpacing him to regain the lead at the exit of turn two.
Meanwhile, ProSource Fast Qualifier Bayston entered the fray and, after getting by Boat for second, two laps later he was in position to grab the lead. A Bayston turn three slider momentarily put him in front before Bacon countered by slipping back under to retake the lead at the stripe. Bayston kept his foot in it and hit the topside where he powered by Bacon to take the top spot on the 13th lap.
Bayston quickly separated himself from the field, but Bacon stayed in touch, reeling Bayston back in to challenge him for first with less than ten laps remaining. With seven to go, the two battled wheel-to-wheel with Bacon pulling the front wheels to the sky as he rallied to the lead. Bayston got back by to reclaim the position at the head of the pack, though Bacon put his foot down and possessed the spot for good after charging past Bayston one final time in turn four.
From that point forward, Bacon ripped the high-side between turns one and two and the middle in three and four where nobody else was able to lay a finger on him in the waning laps as he took the victory by a little over a half-second in his FMR Racing/Brown & Miller Racing Solutions – Black Watch Farms/Beast/Toyota over Bayston, Thorson, Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Jerry Coons, Jr.
“I knew the top was probably going to come in,” Bacon remembers. “I felt the bottom slowing down. When you’re in the lead, it’s hard to really know what to do. I knew I was going to be tight after that red (flag). I was afraid that hole in (turn) one was going to get me if I moved up too early. Once (Bayston) got by me, I moved up and got some speed back up and he started freeing up in (turns) three and four. We were able to get the diamond pattern going over there and got a really good run off of four, and that’s how we got by him.”
“It was tough; we bounced around on the cushion a couple times,” Bacon continued. “(Bayston) did the same thing. I got pretty close to the wall of (turn) four a couple times. Once we got a few laps and the tires got hot and got some air in them, it was a little easier. It was a little hairy a couple times, but you got to drive hard if you want to win these races, especially here. I didn’t want to give up. I didn’t want to move up until somebody proved to me the top was faster. Bob (East) gave me a car good enough that I could move up there and still go fast.”
Five drivers competed in both the midget and sprint features Saturday night, including Bacon. The differences between the two disciplines are stark, but Bacon was able to master the challenge, finishing first and second in the respective features.
“The top is faster in the sprint car,” Bacon explains. “There were things I didn’t even notice in the sprint car when I got out there in the midget. I was like, ‘Man, that hole looks a lot bigger now that in in a midget!’ Sprint cars go through the bumps a little better. Midgets are a little more sensitive to it. You don’t have the horsepower in a midget, so you have to be careful and it might be too far around the top at the beginning. The track was great as usual. It’s nice to get a good racetrack, somewhere you can really open it up and race on. Hopefully, we get that again tomorrow and can put on another good show.”
Lebanon, Indiana’s Spencer Bayston came up just short of his second career USAC National Midget victory, instead having to settle for his fifth second-place finish dating back to 2016 after leading 11 laps in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Curb Records – TRD/Bullet by Spike/Speedway Toyota.
“I got out front and Brady found the bottom in (turns) three and four better than I did,” Bayston conceded. “We had a really good racecar. I just thought we were better in (turns) one and two than he was, but he was just killing me so much in three and four, he got me.
“The first time I came here, I didn’t finish the race and the time after that, I don’t think I even made the A-main,” Bayston added. “We’ve made a lot of progress. It’s all thanks to the people around me who gave me the opportunity and taught me as much as they have.”
Defending series champion Tanner Thorson overcame an early-race skirmish with Tyler Courtney that shuffled him from fourth to seventh, but persevered to take third in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/JBL Audio – TRD/Bullet by Spike/Speedway Toyota.
“We had a great car all night,” Thorson praises. “Al (Scroggins) worked his butt off to try and get this thing better and better throughout the night. The track was a little bit tricky tonight, but we’ll get back to the shop, get everything cleaned up and try again tomorrow.”
Contingency award winners Saturday night at Kokomo Speedway include Spencer Bayston (ProSource Fast Qualifier & Simpson Race Products First Heat Race Winner), Tyler Thomas (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Race Winner & KSE Racing Products Hard Charger), Justin Grant (Chalk Stix Third Heat Race Winner), Tyler Courtney (Indy Race Parts Fourth Heat Race Winner) and Gage Walker (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Feature Finisher).
USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: April 8, 2017 – Kokomo, Indiana – Kokomo Speedway – “Kokomo Grand Prix”
PROSOURCE QUALIFYING: 1. Spencer Bayston, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.318; 2. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.320; 3. Brady Bacon, 76m, FMR-13.326; 4. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall-13.346; 5. Ryan Robinson, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13,382; 6. Chad Boat, 84, Tucker/Boat-13.486; 7. Justin Grant, 39BC, Clauson/Marshall-13.499; 8. Davey Ray, 33, Team RAYPRO-13.507; 9. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 7B, Brown-13,595; 10. Tanner Carrick, 71k, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.609; 11. Holly Shelton, 67k, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-13.616; 12. Jerry Coons Jr., 25, Petry/Goff-13.630; 13. Dave Darland, 11, Gray-13.652; 14. Shane Golobic, 17w, Clauson-Marshall/Wood-13.719; 15. Chris Windom, 5, Baldwin-13.722; 16. Tony DiMattia, 50, DiMattia-13.742; 17. Shane Hollingsworth, 85, Hollingsworth-13.750; 18. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-13.796; 19. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 27, Klaasmeyer-13,802; 20. Ryan Greth, 4R, Lesher-13.918; 21. Alex Bright, 77, Bright-13.948; 22. Billy Wease, 12w, Wease-13.949; 23. Anton Julian, 44, Pace-13.991; 24. Jake Neuman, 3N, Neuman-14,023; 25. Gage Walker, 7, Walker-14.100; 26. Ray Seach, 2, Seach-14.102; 27. Tyler Nelson, 88T, Nelson-14.116; 28. Brayton Lynch, 1k, RKR-14.263; 29. Kyle Schuett, 9k, Schuett-14.297; 30. Scott Orr, 88, Orr-14.520; 31. Justin Dickerson, 21D, Dickerson-14.521; 32. Bear Wood, 8jr, LW Racing-14.568; 33. Cole Fehr, 15F, Live Loud-14,578; 34. Chase Jones, 22, Petry/Goff-14.747; 35. Brad Kraus, 6B, Kraus-15.052.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Bayston, 2. Darland, 3. K.Thomas, 4. Robinson, 5. Bright, 6. Walker, 7. Schuett, 8. Fehr, 9. Hollingsworth. 2:19.06
COMPETITION SUSPENSION, INC. (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. T.Thomas, 2. Golobic, 3. Thorson, 4. Boat, 5. Wease, 6. Jones. 7. Carrick, 8. Orr, 9. Seach. NT
CHALK STIX THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Grant, 2. Klaasmeyer, 3. Windom, 4. Bacon, 5. Shelton, 6. Nelson, 7. Julian, 8. Kraus, 9. Dickerson. 2:18.59
INDY RACE PARTS FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Courtney, 2. Coons, 3. Newman, 4. Ray, 5. Greth, 6. Lynch, 7. Wood. 8. DiMattia. NT
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Shelton, 2. Bright, 3. Walker, 4. Carrick, 5. Nelson, 6. Greth, 7. Schuett, 8. Julian, 9. Wease, 10. Jones, 11. Lynch, 12. Kraus, 13. Dickerson, 14. Wood, 15. Fehr, 16. Seach. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Brady Bacon, 2. Spencer Bayston, 3. Tanner Thorson, 4. Kevin Thomas Jr., 5. Jerry Coons Jr., 6. Justin Grant, 7. Chris Windom, 8. Tyler Thomas, 9. Dave Darland, 10. Ryan Robinson, 11. Chad Boat, 12. Holly Shelton, 13. Gage Walker, 14. Alex Bright, 15. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 16. Jake Neuman, 17. Tanner Carrick, 18. Brayton Lynch, 19. Tyler Nelson, 20. Shane Golobic, 21. Ryan Greth, 22. Kyle Schuett, 23. Tyler Courtney, 24. Davey Ray. NT
**Courtney flipped on lap 10 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-12 Bacon, Laps 13-23 Bayston, Laps 24-30 Bacon.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER: Tyler Thomas (20th to 8th)
WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Gage Walker
NEW USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Bacon-140, 2-Grant-133, 3-Coons-129, 4-Bayston-120, 5-Thorson-98, 6-Golobic-97, 7-Neuman-86, 8-Boat-76, 9-Walker-76, 10-T.Thomas-67.
NEXT USAC MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: April 9 – Kokomo (IN) Speedway – “Kokomo Grand Prix”