Series News Release - USAC Media
Macon, Illinois (July 8, 2023) - A mere 24 hours after he and his car sat upside down up in a crumpled heap following a meeting with the turn two outside wall, Bacon returned to his natural state during Saturday night’s Top Gun 50 at Illinois’ Macon Speedway.
His natural state of late, and pretty much throughout the entirety of his illustrious career, has been victory lane, and that’s exactly where he put his Dynamics, Inc./A & B Sports Bar Café – Tel-Star Technologies – DriveWFX.com/Triple X/Rider Chevy, escaping a duel with C.J. Leary before taking command on lap 18 and going on to capture the 50-lap main that put $10,000 in his pocket.
The Broken Arrow, Okla. native has now been the victor in three of his past four USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship starts, which has pushed his win tally on the season to a series-leading five and his overall win total to 51, placing him just one behind Tom Bigelow for second on the all-time series win list.
Speaking of states, Bacon also set a new USAC National Sprint Car record for the number of different states he’s won a feature in. Illinois marked the 13th different state Bacon has won a series feature in following previous scores in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Kansas.
Saturday was quite the comeback story for Bacon. While running sixth on lap three of Friday’s feature at Macon, he smacked his right rear tire off the outside wall in turn two, which promptly sent him upside down and out of the race. It was an uncharacteristic mistake for the four-time USAC National Sprint Car champ, which led to an even more rare 19th place finish.
“It was a little slicker on exit last night, and it just caught me off guard,” Bacon explained of this accident. “I didn’t think I was going that fast. But once I got up on the flat, I knew it was over long before it happened. But we fixed it and made sure we got everything tuned right. We had a really good car last night, but I just made a mistake. That happens sometimes. Fortunately, it didn’t cost us any points.”
Bacon’s speaking of the fact that Friday’s Macon event paid 50 appearance points across the board to all licensed series drivers and entrants regardless of finishing position – no more, no less. The points scenario was exactly the same on Saturday as well and it’s where Bacon started from the pole position in what was the first 50-lap USAC National Sprint Car feature since Eldora Speedway’s 50th anniversary race 11 years earlier in 2012.
However, early on, the place to be was seemingly up top on the cushion. There, outside front row starter Leary got a step on Bacon at the start and nipped Bacon at the line by roughly an inch or two to lead the opening lap and remained a resident of the top spot for the initial 10 circuits.
A one-two-three tussle became a three-wide hustle between Leary, Logan Seavey and Bacon on the 11th lap. Leary grooved up top while Bacon split through the middle, but it was Seavey who hooked the bottom to edge ahead of both at the line by a wheel.
Seavey’s lead proved to be short-lived, however. As he slid into turn one, he drifted up the banking of the 1/5-mile dirt oval, opening the door for both Bacon and Leary to shoot past underneath. The trio was seemingly synched together with all three in perfect three-part harmony formation on the back straight before Leary and Bacon rearranged themselves in the first two positions while Seavey slotted into third.
Soon after, 14th running Shane Cottle slowed dramatically on the front straight right in front Leary who had just begun to sink his teeth into traffic when the yellow flag was displayed.
Bacon took full advantage after he positioned himself right behind Leary on the restart, grabbing the top spot with a drive off the bottom of turn two on lap 14. Leary, however, retaliated a lap later by executing a diamond maneuver to get under Bacon in turn two on lap 15. Bacon gritted his teeth, and once again, dug in and powered his way past Leary off turn four to assume the first position as Leary checked up just before the flag stand on the 18th go-around.
“I just knew it was all about getting down the straightaway,” Bacon hypothesized. “You’ve got to have your tires underneath you. I figured the top was going to be faster. I think we all thought it was going to be faster for at least a good portion of the race. I got underneath (Leary) on a restart, and kind of blocked Logan from filling the hole. I noticed he was struggling to get off the corner, and if I could just keep my tires underneath me, I could beat him down the straightaway. After that, I knew that if I hit the bottom on exit, it was going to be really hard for someone to drive around me.”
Beyond the top-three, Kyle Cummins began to make a surge as he drove past Seavey for fourth on lap 21, then spurted past reigning series titlist Justin Grant with an inside move in turns three and four on lap 31. Grant soon found his evening cut short while running fourth on lap 36 as he connected his right rear tire with the cushion between turns three and four, sending him flipping over, and relegating him to a 16th place result.
Bacon’s lead margin regularly hovered around 2.0-2.5 seconds prior to the stoppages as the race transformed into a bottom-dominant affair up front aside from Friday night Macon winner Mitchel Moles who put on a thrill show on the high side to advance from seventh to fourth during the final four laps.
“We got to moving around a little bit when I was catching lapped traffic, trying to prepare myself for what I was going to do,” Bacon demonstrated. “Luckily, we had some cautions and got some free track, but still, I was worried. Like the late model race (on Thursday), during the 100 laps, the track moved from the top to the bottom maybe three or four times. I was worried about the top being cleaned off and someone pounding the fence and passing me. But I was okay with that. I was going to stick to my guns. I’ve lost races sticking to the bottom, but we won this one, so I’ll take it.”
Up front, Bacon was untouchable as he closed out his triumphant moment with a feature victory, 1.516 second ahead of runner-up C.J. Leary with Kyle Cummins third, Mitchel Moles fourth and Logan Seavey fifth.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) led a total of 15 laps during three different stints in the first 17 laps of the feature in his BGE Dougherty Motorsports/Altoz – Hornbeck Concrete - Highsmith Guns - Elliott’s/DRC/1-Way Chevy. One night earlier, his teammate, Carson Garrett, scored a runner-up finish. One night later, C.J. matched the feat with the team’s second consecutive second place finish in as many nights at Macon.
“Our car was just too good, too early,” Leary admitted. “I felt really good those first 10 laps. Even at halfway, I still felt pretty good. I think Brady had the better car at the end and just drove away. I tried everything I could; I banged the boards, moved around and tried to diamond it. I Just had a second-place car. I felt like we had a really good car last night too, but then we had a tire go down. We’ve got some good momentum rolling into Indiana Sprint Week. I just wish we could’ve put it in victory lane, but that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes.”
It turned out to be a much more traditional third place finish for Kyle Cummins (Princeton, Ind.) who finished on his wheels this time around. The night before, he also scored a third but that one came as he crossed the stripe while airborne. On Saturday, he landed safely to round out the podium in his Rock Steady Racing/Avanti Windows & Doors – Tim Mason ReMax/Mach-1/Stanton Chevy, which was the same car that he won with at Action Track USA just three weeks earlier. For Cummins, it was his ninth top-three result in 19 USAC National Sprint Car starts this season.
“We were really tight at the beginning,” Cummins acknowledged. “I thought, man, if this goes top-dominant, we’re going to be struggling. I started peeling off a little bit, then it seemed like when that caution came out, everybody went to the bottom. There at the end, my car was really good. I passed C.J. there right before the yellow, which got him back in front of me. Then I just couldn’t do anything with him. We were right there. I just wish we could’ve gotten around C.J. and see what Brady had. It didn’t seem like he pulled out like he had been earlier before. All in all, it was way better than last night, and we don’t have to work all night just to get the car in the trailer.”
Furthermore, Cummins reset the record for the quickest lap in USAC National Sprint Car history. Cummins set a new Macon Speedway USAC National Sprint Car track record on Saturday with a blistering time of 10.085 seconds during Honest Abe Roofing Qualifying, which now stands as the quickest lap ever turned in the series' 68-year history, surpassing the 10.230 second lap Seavey registered one night earlier at Macon. For Cummins, that was his 13th career fast qualifying time with the USAC National Sprint Cars, tying him with Bobby East and Bruce Walkup for 37th all-time.
FEATURE: (50 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (1), 2. C.J. Leary (2), 3. Kyle Cummins (6), 4. Mitchel Moles (5), 5. Logan Seavey (4), 6. Emerson Axsom (9), 7. Carson Garrett (12), 8. Robert Ballou (16), 9. Mario Clouser (15), 10. Zach Daum (18), 11. Max Adams (14), 12. Kevin Thomas Jr. (10), 13. Daison Pursley (3), 14. Mitchell Davis (19), 15. Todd Hobson (17), 16. Justin Grant (7), 17. Jake Swanson (11), 18. Colten Cottle (20), 19. Mitch Wissmiller (8), 20. Shane Cottle (13). NT
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Jake Swanson-1196, 2-Emerson Axsom-1193, 3-Brady Bacon-1164, 4-Justin Grant-1149, 5-Kyle Cummins-1136, 6-C.J. Leary-1098, 7-Mitchel Moles-1037, 8-Chase Stockon-994, 9-Daison Pursley-989, 10-Robert Ballou-954.