Bacon the 20 Grand Man at Corn Belt Nationals

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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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**Smith flipped during the third heat.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-30 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

NEW USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-C.J. Leary-876, 2-Tyler Courtney-816, 3-Chase Stockon-811, 4-Chris Windom-810, 5-Kevin Thomas, Jr.-800, 6-Brady Bacon-770, 7-Justin Grant-742, 8-Carson Short-695, 9-Jason McDougal-681, 10-Chad Boespflug-599.

NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: July 17, 2019 – Eldora Speedway – Rossburg, Ohio – #LetsRaceTwo #TakeTwo – 1/2-Mile Dirt Oval

All-Star Circuit of Champions Taking 'Week-to-Week' Approach to 2020

Eric Walls, the director of the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions, is as anxious to go racing as his 410 Sprint Car tour’s drivers, team members and fans. He understands, however, that he’s unlikely to hear the roar of race car engines as soon as he, and everyone else, would like due to the coronavirus pandemic that has overtaken the country.While the 410 Sprint Car series owned by former NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart hasn’t yet announced any event cancelations or postponements due to the crisis, Walls admitted this week that decisions will soon have to be made on upcoming races starting with the April 10-11 Spring Nationals doubleheader at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park. He certainly wants to remain as positive about racing as he can be, but he knows the opposite will likely be the case with the series, which in 2020 has all of its events slated for live broadcast to FloRacing subscribers.“Yeah, we’d love to race,” Walls said. “But when reality sets in, let’s be honest, we’re not gonna race till May probably.”Walls is monitoring the ever-developing landscape on a “week-to-week basis,” keeping open a sliver of hope for competition to happen if the spread of the coronavirus were to slow enough for government and health officials to relax existing stay-at-home and mass-gathering orders that are keeping racetracks shuttered. 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All the track operators have their facilities ready for what would be an attractive and lucrative stretch of racing for the ASCoC, but the crisis supersedes all the best-laid plans.According to Walls, the response he’s giving to All Star drivers who call looking for information on upcoming races basically tells the story of the circuit’s current status.“I’ve had a few drivers reach out to me, just for their travel plans,” Walls said. “A couple of our drivers fly to different places so they wanted to book their travel.“Not that I knew what was gonna go on as far as what the government is gonna do, but it was just my opinion to them that I certainly hope that April 10 we’re racing, but I’m a realist. I can’t see the government from state-to-state lifting this ban until later on in the season.“It’s just giving them my opinion on it and they can book their travel if they want to, but at the end of the day we’ve got to use some common sense when we’re looking at this too.”Walls is already scouring the 2020 calendar to consider makeup dates for races that might fall to the coronavirus situation. That includes the April 16 stop at Virginia Motor Speedway, a $12,000-to-win special that VMS and All Star officials worked together to schedule during the NASCAR weekend at nearby Richmond International Raceway — a weekend that NASCAR has already postponed to an undermined date.“It’s just going through the schedule to where we’re thinking racing is potentially not going to happen and trying to look down through our schedule and reschedule races,” Walls said.With the kickoff of the 2020 ASCoC season in February at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., and East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla. (both tracks ran two races), Walls started his second year as the tour’s director on an uplifting note. He never could have imagined having to deal with the unprecedented crisis that has presented itself, but he remarked that some trying stretches during his rookie campaign at the helm helped prepare him for curveballs thrown at him.“If you could look into the future, I guess (Ohio Sprint) Speedweek last year really groomed me into this position this year,” said Walls, a native of Chambersburg, Pa., who now lives in Brownsburg, Ind., near the Tony Stewart Racing shop that houses the ASCoC office. “With Speedweek, it was just rain every day. We got to the point where we knew we needed to race and Speedweek was a unique opportunity (with teams in one general area), so we started reaching out to racetracks and saying, ‘Hey, it’s not gonna rain there … do you want to race?’ We just took the schedule and moved it all around and got as many races in as we could.”Calling what has come up this year “a challenging time for sure,” Walls anticipates that he will have to do some creative scheduling once again this season. Adding races at tracks that are already bringing the series back later in the season? Extending the season past the planned finale on Sept. 26 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio? Everything might have to be on the table.“It will certainly be a unique year,” Walls said. “I think from not only our series but other series as well, including USAC and the (World of) Outlaws, you’re gonna see something different that no one’s ever seen before.“Our schedule’s a little bit unique. We go to a lot of the same racetracks at different times of the year, and we can certainly throw in an extra date here or there. But just looking down through our schedule late in the season, there’s not very many open weekends. And the open weekends we have built in, they’re for bigger races so our guys can go travel to race with different series. That’s something we built in there this year for our guys to go race for some bigger money in between during the season.“To lose some big money races this early on, it’s gonna make the season rough,” he added. “But I think we’re gonna motor through it and hopefully we can get to racing by the end of April or the first of June and everything goes smooth from there on. It certainly will not just be a flip of the switch (to return to normalcy for the country), that’s for sure. If I had to guess, it’ll be a slow process of going back to full time, but we’ll be ready when it happens.”

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Feeling like a blown-out tire from all the COVID-19 cancelations? Us too.