Speedway, IN — Brady Bacon has won quite a few big races thus far in his racing career, but Thursday night, he put himself into a stratosphere unclaimed by any other: feature winner on the dirt track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Broken Arrow, Okla. native made his winning move in traffic with just eight laps remaining to score the Driven2SaveLives “BC39” presented by NOS Energy Drink victory worth $15,000, his first series win of 2018.
But if you’re going to win one, and only one, all year, make it one to remember. Bacon relishes that fact for not only himself, but for his FMR Racing crew who’ve been through the battlefields with him for four years now, a group of individuals he doesn’t take for granted.
“This is definitely up at the top,” Bacon exclaimed. “It’s a first-year event, but it’s the first win on the dirt track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and no one can ever take that away. Obviously, there’s a lot of things that make it special for me, the team, Bob (East), Brad (Noffsinger) and Frank (Manafort). As many years as those guys have been together and to still be winning, it’s an honor to work with guys like that. To still want to work this hard takes a lot to be at the top. They’ve done all the work, made the investment in me and still think I’m at the top. This one’s probably going to take a while to sink in.”
After a lengthy rain delay that pushed the evening’s event back several hours, the A-Main pushed off just after midnight for the Inaugural 39-lap race where Bacon set forth all the way back in the seventh position.
Pole sitter Kevin Thomas, Jr. was masterful early, spurting out front from the drop of the green to lead the first baker’s dozen of laps, working the bottom as Tyler Courtney blitzed the top just about one to two car lengths behind Thomas in a lap-after-lap battle for supremacy.
Thomas created some separation between he and Courtney in the first-third of the event until a six-car melee ensued between turns three and four on the 14th lap, resulting in Tucker Klaasmeyer toppling over on the 14th lap. He was uninjured and did not restart.
Once racing resumed, second-place Bacon made his presence felt as a contender, serving as Thomas’ largest foil thus far, putting pressure on the Alabama driver as the two gapped the field.
On the 20th lap, Bacon fired his first shot across the bow, going stride-to-stride with Thomas into turn three, but Thomas was able to muscle his way back to the bottom to secure the line and the position. Bacon’s move for the lead seemed imminent and, a lap later, he took another jab at Thomas off turn two, this time pulling the wheels off the ground, with a tad too much tightness at the moment, as his Brown & Miller Racing Solutions – Black Watch Farms – Mobil 1/Beast/Toyota roared to life.
The pressure was on Thomas as the pair hit lapped traffic. Thomas’ line swung a little wider off the bottom as time wore on while Bacon’s arching line stuck him to the bottom on exit like glue. Thomas’ lead clung to life as he ripped from the high side of four off exit, swinging low like a sweet chariot across the nose of Bacon into turn one on lap 24 to retain the lead.
Traffic was plentiful on the bottom, forcing Thomas and Bacon to occupy the unclaimed high side nearing ten to go as Chad Boat suddenly entered the fray in third. Thomas slid out in turn four on lap 31 as Bacon tethered himself to the bottom and powered to the lead by a car length at the start/finish line. Thomas immediately darted to the bottom entering turn one as both he and Bacon put on a dueling Tokyo drift display through the corner while Boat emerged on the bottom to make it three-wide for the race lead down the back straight entering turn three.
“He wasn’t leaving the door open for me until it got a little slicker,” Bacon recalled. “He kept opening it wider and wider, and I was getting a better run. I just had to time it right. I got under him once and I thought I might’ve given it away by not staying in front of him. We were able to put enough pressure on him and made him think and move around a little bit, which allowed me to sneak underneath him. It was not over by any means because he had a really good racecar too and traffic could’ve gone in a number of ways.”
Indeed, it did, as Bacon remained on the high side and established some personal space, climbing the ladder to the top and ever-so-slightly, subtly pinning Thomas and Boat behind the lappers between turns one and two.
Boat’s attack was relentless, and Bacon had to be as suave as possible down the stretch. The veteran two-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champ was unflappable, keeping Boat at bay in the final laps to win by a half-second over Boat, Thomas, Courtney and KSE Racing Products/ProSource Hard Charger Christopher Bell from 17th.
“I thought we had a really good car from the start,” Bacon explained. “I knew I was going to be a little tight at the beginning. We had some wheelies going on, but I knew it was going to come to me. I could see some black come in on the track. We had a really good line where we could throw it sideways and come off straight on the bottom.”
Bacon, who is expecting to become a father once again in the coming weeks with baby number three on the way, is eager to look at the big picture of things through what has been a tumultuous season in some ways with switching Sprint Car teams in the middle of the season and a series of misfortunes in the Silver Crown car despite being strong the majority of time, but without the results to show for. The results came through Thursday at IMS as he and his crew came to the forefront to notch down a prestigious victory.
“It’s been a season of adversity and overcoming obstacles,” Bacon detailed. “Having a solid deal here in the midget helps a lot. Everyone who’s involved has pitched in and done their part above and beyond what anyone should expect anyone to do.
Driver Robert Dalby of Anaheim, Calif. was transported to IU Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for non-life-threatening injuries following his accident during the fourth qualifying race.
-USAC Press Release
-Photo credit: Rich Forman