By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
BLOOMSBURG, PA – Brady Bacon finished what he started in USAC Eastern Storm 2022.
The Broken Arrow, Okla. native opened and closed the five-race mini-series in a much familiar manner, winning last Tuesday’s opener at Grandview Speedway in wire-to-wire fashion. Bacon ended the busy weekend just the same during Sunday’s Eastern Storm finale at Bloomsburg (Pa.) Fair Raceway, rolling to his second triumph of the week where he led the entire non-stop, caution-free, 30-lap duration from start to finish in his Dynamics, Inc./Fatheadz Eyewear – Gressman Sanitation – DriveWFX.com/Triple X/Rider Chevy.
In doing so, Bacon became just the third driver to win both the first and last feature in a single Eastern Storm week, joining Levi Jones in 2007 and Robert Ballou in 2015. Bacon’s 44th career USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory moved him to within one win of Larry Dickson’s 45 for fifth on the all-time list.
Bacon’s superb performance from start to finish in Bloomsburg’s $6,000-to-win feature, however, was not enough to overtake Logan Seavey for the Eastern Storm title. That honor went to the Sutter, Calif. native whose two victories and four overall podium finishes in five appearances secured him his first title in the series by a mere five points over Bacon. Seavey wrapped it up with a solid third-place performance at Bloomsburg.
Rolling from the outside of the front row, Bacon stayed true to the high line early on as pole sitter and one-lap track record holder Chase Stockon worked the middle ground and repeatedly offered a challenge to Bacon’s stranglehold of the top spot a couple car lengths in arrears.
On the fifth trip around the 3/8-mile dirt oval, Stockon saw his best opportunity at hand as he pulled even alongside Bacon for the race lead in turn two. Charging down the back straightaway and into turn three, Stockon and Bacon swapped lines as Stockon went topside and Bacon carved through the middle. Reacting to the changeup, Bacon slid himself into turn one on lap six while Stockon trucked through the middle.
As Bacon steadily built his lead to over a second, the ongoing jockeying for position behind him never ceased operations. On the eighth lap, Justin Grant and Seavey were engaged in a fierce tussle for the third position between turns one and two when Seavey jumped over the cushion. The closely following Jake Swanson, running fifth, had no extra room to maneuver and climbed the back of Seavey’s tail tank, nearly spelling doom for Seavey’s Eastern Storm title chances as well as Swanson’s opportunity for his best result of the week. Yet, as it turned out, it was a no-harm, no-foul interaction, and both continued on their merry way running fourth and fifth in the order.
Meanwhile, at the halfway mark of the 30-lap feature, on lap 15, Bacon was in the midst of his trouncing as he held a 1.8 second advantage over Grant, who, on lap 14, had dove under Stockon in turn one then raced ahead at the exit of turn two to steal away second. Seavey spurted ahead of Stockon a lap later on 15 when he out-drag raced Stockon to the entry of turn three to position himself into second.
While Grant was able to close to within six-tenths of leader Bacon with five laps remaining, Bacon remained in solid shape as he put together a succession of qualifying-like laps as he resided alone at the front, rising the final interval to 1.251 second at the finish line to win and place himself at the top of the all-time Eastern Storm win list with six along with Bryan Clauson, Levi Jones and Chris Windom.
“Luckily, we got to the front early,” Bacon stated. “Stockon poked a nose there and I stepped it up a little bit. Sometimes you lose them when you should win them, and we’ll take this one tonight. We did a lot of crazy stuff to the car to be tight enough and I think it paid off.”
A major role in adapting to the track conditions throughout a 30-lap feature involves finding a sufficient amount of bite to propel yourself forward all while keeping an open mind and open eyes on how the surface progresses and changes over time and how, as a driver, you can quickly adapt even though it may be difficult to do so when running alone up front and having no frame of reference to compare to.
“Being in front the whole time, you don’t really know of the changes in the track,” Bacon explained. “Last time, it kind of moved up then moved back down. I was keeping an eye on the bottom, and it didn’t look like it was cleaning up. There weren’t a bunch of others running down there enough to get it any more grip, so I just stuck to my guns but, luckily, we have a lot of sidebite, so I could slide across one and two pretty well, I thought. We’ve tried some different stuff to get our forward bite a little bit better when it’s super slick like this and I think we’re making some gains on it.”
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) collected four top-four finishes during Eastern Storm this past week. He earned a fourth at Grandview, followed by a first at Williams Grove and a third at Port Royal before finishing up second at Bloomsburg while also staying ahead of Bacon in the overall USAC National Sprint Car championship fight in his TOPP Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink – MPV Express – TOPP Industries – LA Poly/Maxim/Kistler Chevy.
“I felt like our car was really good there,” Grant said. “I could hook the middle of one and two and drive off the bottom of two and make up some ground. At the end, we had a tire issue, and the thing was shaking like crazy, and things started to back away for me. Brady is really good at these flat racetracks and I’m typically not very good at these types of racetracks. We made big, big strides on the car and we feel really good about that going into this stretch of the season.”
Prior to hot laps, Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) had a head gasket issue on the primary Baldwin-Fox Racing/Fox Paving – AMSOIL/DRC/Claxton Chevy, which required the team to go to the backup machine for the remainder of the night. Seavey promptly put his stamp on a first Eastern Storm championship with a third place finish in the finale at Bloomsburg. Seavey finished the week with authority by snagging wins at both Bridgeport and Port Royal while also adding thirds at Williams Grove and Bloomsburg.
“We came out and I wasn’t sure what to expect because I haven’t run very great out here in the past,” Seavey recounted of his previous Bloomsburg experiences. “I started fourth there and I figured my car was really good in the feature after struggling in the heat race. (Crew chief) Ronnie (Gardner) gave me a great car for the feature. I was trying to figure out where I needed to be on the racetrack. I was able to get by Stockon and I knew that gave me a little bit of a buffer for the Eastern Storm points at least. I started moving around a little bit and, the last two or three laps, I actually found a little bit and closed the gap, but it was way too late by that point. It was another really great run and it’s what we needed for our season to keep putting this thing on the podium and we’ve done that. I’m really happy about our speed leaving here and excited for the rest of the year.”
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: June 19, 2022 – Bloomsburg Fair Raceway – Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania – 3/8-Mile Dirt Track – 18th USAC Eastern Storm
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Jake Swanson, 21AZ, Team AZ-15.993; 2. C.J. Leary, 77m, Michael-16.031; 3. Logan Seavey, 5, Baldwin/Fox-16.075; 4. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-16.202; 5. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-16.211; 6. Chase Stockon, 5s, KO-16.223; 7. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-16.314; 8. Emerson Axsom, 47BC, Clauson Marshall Newman-16.332; 9. Alex Bright, 20, Hummer-16.636; 10. Thomas Meseraull, 20m, Dyson-16.709; 11. Briggs Danner, 5G, Heffner South-16.732; 12. Timmy Buckwalter, 7, Lotier/Nemeth-16.904; 13. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-17.189; 14. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-17.282; 15. Steven Drevicki, 19, DeGre-17.307; 16. Joey Amantea, 88J, Amantea-17.772; 17. Jadon Rogers, 14, Engler-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS & PIT STOP USA FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, all transfer to the feature) 1. Briggs Danner, 2. Robert Ballou, 3. Brady Bacon, 4. Alex Bright, 5. Logan Seavey, 6. Jake Swanson, 7. Matt Westfall, 8. Steven Drevicki, 9. Jadon Rogers. 2:11.42 (New Track Record)
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) & ROD END SUPPLY SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, all transfer to the feature) 1. Timmy Buckwalter, 2. Thomas Meseraull, 3. Emerson Axsom, 4. Chase Stockon, 5. C.J. Leary, 6. Justin Grant, 7. Joey Amantea. 2:17.58
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (2), 2. Justin Grant (3), 3. Logan Seavey (4), 4. Chase Stockon (1), 5. Jake Swanson (6), 6. Briggs Danner (7), 7. Robert Ballou (9), 8. Emerson Axsom (10), 9. Thomas Meseraull (12), 10. C.J. Leary (5), 11. Alex Bright (11), 12. Matt Westfall (13), 13. Joey Amantea (15), 14. Jadon Rogers (16), 15. Steven Drevicki (14), 16. Timmy Buckwalter (8), 17. Brandon Mattox (17). 8:51.95 (New Track Record)
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 Brady Bacon.
**Brandon Mattox & Jadon Rogers flipped during qualifying.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Justin Grant-872, 2-Brady Bacon-858, 3-Logan Seavey-825, 4-Robert Ballou-817, 5-C.J. Leary-795, 6-Chase Stockon-787, 7-Emerson Axsom-771, 8-Matt Westfall-634, 9-Jake Swanson-593, 10-Jadon Rogers-510.
USAC EASTERN STORM POINTS: 1-Logan Seav2ey-352, 2-Brady Bacon-347, 3-Justin Grant-333, 4-Briggs Danner-309, 5-C.J. Leary-306, 6-Chase Stockon-304, 7-Robert Ballou-296, 8-Alex Bright-282, 9-Matt Westfall-268, 10-Jake Swanson-239.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Thomas Meseraull-51, 2-Robert Ballou-47, 3-Alex Bright-46, 4-Buddy Kofoid-45, 5-Justin Grant-43, 6-Brady Bacon-43, 7-Logan Seavey-36, 8-Jadon Rogers-35, 9-Brenham Crouch-32, 10-Chase Stockon-31.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: June 25, 2022 – Wilmot Raceway – Wilmot, Wisconsin – 3/8-Mile Dirt Track – CarIQ Wisconsin Jump Around
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Jake Swanson
GSP Quality Driving Performance: Briggs Danner
Simpson Race Products / Pit Stop USA First Heat Winner: Briggs Danner
Competition Suspension, Inc. / Rod End Supply Second Heat Winner: Timmy Buckwalter
Dirt Draft Hot Laps Fastest Driver: Chase Stockon
Feature Hard Charger: Thomas Meseraull (12th to 9th)