Nifty 50! Bacon Reaches Major Milestone at Lincoln Park’s Sprintacular

Only a select few individuals have been fortunate enough to win a USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature event in their career.
Just three have accomplished the feat Brady Bacon achieved on Monday night at Putnamville, Indiana’s Lincoln Park Speedway as the Broken Arrow, Okla. racer earned his 50th career USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature victory.
Tom Bigelow was the first to reach win number 50 at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in 1980. Prior to Bacon, Dave Darland was the most recent to hit 50 at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track in 2014. Bacon currently stands third all-time in USAC National Sprint Car victories behind those two all-time greats – two behind Bigelow’s 52 and 12 behind all-time leader Darland at 62.
Bacon’s performance during the ninth annual Bill Gardner Sprintacular was, perhaps, his finest and most dominant of the season on the USAC Sprint trail. From beginning to end, Bacon was never once challenged up front, leading all 40 laps to earn a $10,000 grand prize in his Dynamics, Inc./A & B Sports Bar Café – Tel-Star Technologies – X/Rider Chevy.
After a tumultuous Eastern Storm in mid-June in which he struggled throughout much of a five-race stretch, Bacon has responded in kind by winning each of his last two feature starts after scoring one in Wilmot, Wis. a week earlier. In doing so, he became the first four-time winner of the USAC National Sprint Car points season, and you might say, he’s officially back to the Bacon we’re accustomed to seeing.
“We’ve had things not go our way a lot this year, so it looks like things are finally starting to turn around; we’ll definitely take it,” Bacon unabashedly stated. “We got back to basics after struggling in Pennsylvania, then we got a win in Wisconsin and now this one here. It feels good getting back to doing what we know we’re supposed to be doing.”
It was a race that seemingly didn’t want to happen, at least initially. The first three attempts at putting the Sprintacular into the books was interrupted by a power outage on Friday due to storms on Thursday, followed by more weather-plaguing issues on Saturday and Sunday. Ultimately, the one to seemingly put an end to the event just as soon as it finally got going on Monday was the Macho Man himself, Brady Bacon, ultimately making the fourth day the charm.
Starting from the pole, Bacon instantly burst into the lead past fellow front row starter Kevin Thomas Jr. Meanwhile, seventh place running Thomas Meseraull was stuck in the muck through the heavily saturated infield that was rendered muddy following the recent storms that had infiltrated the area. Meseraull eventually throttled out of it, but found himself dead last, 24th place, when he returned to the racing surface.
By lap six, Bacon could already claim a full straightaway lead and was beginning to dip his toes into lapped traffic a full two seconds ahead of Thomas Jr. However, a yellow flag on lap 17 brought a halt to the race when sixth running Carson Garrett stopped between turns one and two, thus erasing Bacon’s commanding 2.513 second lead due to the caution.
From lap one of Dirt Draft Hot Laps, in which he was the fastest overall, Bacon knew what a stout ride he had, and he initially had a gameplan for the feature. With that said, on occasion, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and Bacon had to adjust on the fly.
“I feel like we had a really good car all night,” Bacon acknowledged. “We went out late (in qualifying), which kind of hurt us, but we won our heat, then we actually made the invert and started on the pole. I had a pretty good plan for at least a lap, then I could just feel how the track was and where my tire was air-wise, and tried to keep it spun up. It was pretty chunky getting into (turn) three there and I felt my beadlock bottom out a couple of times with low air, so I tried to avoid that. We kind of had a little more grace on where we could run on the track with low air, but then once it got speed, I was struggling down the front straightaway a little bit and just had to make adjustments to see what felt fast.”
When racing resumed, Bacon instantly re-opened his lead to a half-straightaway while a shuffle for position commenced for second. Amidst it all, Justin Grant, the reigning Sprintacular winner from 2022, slipped under Thomas Jr. for the spot between turns three and four on the 18th circuit.
However, Brandon Mattox (20th) slowed to a stop atop turns three and four on lap 29 to bring out the yellow. Once again, Bacon’s substantial 2.055 second lead was evaporated by the caution. Furthermore, under yellow, Emerson Axsom saw his streak of six consecutive top-three finishes cease to be. After advancing from 16th to ninth, he pulled into the Indy Metal Finishing Work Area under the caution with a flat left rear tire before returning to finish 15th, his worst result of the campaign thus far and only his second finish outside the top-10 in 17 series starts this year.
On the lap 29 restart, Jake Swanson made his move to enter the top-three as he dipped under in the second turn to steal the spot away as Thomas Jr. slid wide. Shortly after, the final yellow flag of the night was displayed when Garrett spun sideways in turn two while running 15th on the 35th lap.
As for Bacon, he was on cruise control up top. To get to where he felt he needed to be on the surface, it took patience and excellence. And as he’s shown time and time again, he possesses both traits in droves.
“I figured the top was eventually going to come in but I kept looking up there and it was still dirty,” Bacon explained. “I felt like I could keep more speed and didn’t have to run the cushion, just up on the bank. Then I saw it cleaned off up there, so I figured I probably needed to get all the way up there. I made a couple mistakes at the end, but I guess we had enough of a cushion, they couldn’t really pounce on me.”
Bacon was forced to endure one last restart with six laps remaining, but as had been the case throughout, it did not deter the four-time USAC National Sprint Car champ as he quickly distanced himself from all takers and stretched his lead to 1.777 sec. as he crossed the finish line for the fourth time in his career with the series at the 5/16-mile dirt oval, and for the second time during Sprintacular following a previous victory in 2020.
Justin Grant grabbed second at the finish line with Jake Swanson third, C.J. Leary fourth and Kyle Cummins fifth.
Behind them, the pre-Independence Day fireworks show was in full force as 20th running Brian Hayden shot-putted himself and his ride over the banking in turns three and four with a self-inflicted maneuver that sent him flipping several times.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) has been steady and solid in his four most recent Sprintacular final night starts since 2020, earning a 3rd, a 2nd and a 1st followed by another runner-up result on Monday night in his TOPP Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink – Bow Foundation – TOPP Industries/Maxim/Kistler Chevy.
“I could catch that moisture off turn two and stay in it down the back stretch and pick guys off there, which usually, we’re pretty good at doing here,” Grant revealed. “I could hook the bottom really well, but I couldn’t really run the curb very well. We were good around the bottom I felt like and we had a really good racecar, but those guys were just a little bit better than we were tonight.”
Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) thrusted himself back into the USAC National Sprint Car point lead by virtue of his third-place finish aboard his Team AZ Racing/Apache Transport – Stratis Construction – USW Cat Construction/DRC/1-Way Chevy. In all, the podium result was his 13th consecutive top-10 feature finish, best in the series at the moment.
“(Kevin Thomas Jr.) got in a little bit too shallow in (turn) one, and there’s standing water down there,” Swanson detailed of his pass for third place. “If you touch it with the left front, it’ll shove the nose and I was able to capitalize on that. It was definitely tricky getting into turn three. I biked up quite a few times, like big bikes. I was like, ‘whoa, we might write this one off.’ At the end of the day, it was good, and we were solid. Obviously, we’re happy with the points we gained tonight, content I’d say, but we’re always hungry for more. (Car owner) Mike (Burkhart) and I are already talking about how we can be better.”
In Honest Abe Qualifying, Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) wheeled the 2B Racing machine to its first fast qualifying time with the USAC National Sprint Cars in nearly 13 years. The last time the ride was atop the speed chart in time trials in 2010, it also occurred at Lincoln Park Speedway. That night, Bryan Clauson was at the wheel.
Kayla Roell made her USAC debut feature appearance by virtue of a provisional starting spot courtesy of the Midwest Sprint Car Series, who co-sanctioned the event. Roell (Dillsboro, Ind.) became just the sixth woman to start a USAC National Sprint Car feature. In that department, the Midwest Mini Sprint Association standout joined Katlynn Leer (4 starts), Jordan Weaver (2), Shauna Hogg (1), Sheila Rankin (1) and Cindy Chambers (1).