Rich Forman Photo
Bacon Finds Last Lap Ovals Fortune Amid Grant’s Misfortune at Perris
By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Perris, California (November 5, 2021)………In a season that has been earmarked by a consistency matched by no other individual, feature wins have been, rather surprisingly, relatively few and far between for USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship point leader, Brady Bacon.
As it turned out, all the Broken Arrow, Okla. native needed for that to occur was a little bit of good fortune to fall his way, somehow, someway.
Bacon became the leader for the third and final occasion while Justin Grant’s car faltered with a broken nozzle line in Friday’s night two of the Heimark Anheuser Busch Budweiser Oval Nationals Presented by All Coast Construction at southern California’s Perris Auto Speedway.
Bacon cruised past the rapidly slowing Grant on the last of the 30th circuits to prevail with his fourth win of the year and marked his first time standing in victory lane since July’s Indiana Sprint Week round at Bloomington Speedway.
The three-time series champion’s 39th career USAC National Sprint Car feature win moved him to within one of Gary Bettenhausen for 8th on the all-time win list. Bacon’s third career Perris win also went toward cementing his bid for a fourth career title as he incrementally elevated his lead from 63 to 64 with just three races left on the championship trail.
“We’ve had a good enough car to win a bunch of races this year and it just never went our way,” Bacon explained. “Tonight, we probably didn’t deserve to win but we did, so we’ll take it after all the races we’ve lost throughout the year.”
After experiencing a rare downward descent when starting from the front row during Thursday night’s opener at The PAS, Bacon was bound and determined not to let history repeat itself on consecutive nights. Bacon led the opening three circuits before being overtaken by Thorson, then regained the top spot from him just past halfway, then saw his lead slip into the abyss with Grant getting by just three laps from the end.
“I made a mistake there by letting him by,” Bacon recalled of Grant’s late-race pass. “We just had a little luck on our side tonight and I was able to capitalize on that and get the win. I thought we had a pretty good car, but we just got a little tight there after those couple cautions, probably because of low air pressure, which caused it to push really bad off four. After he got me, I just tried to not make any mistakes and, if he did, I was going to be able to capitalize. Unfortunately for him, something happened, but we’ll definitely take it after the year we’ve had.”
Bacon initially lost the lead to Thorson on the fourth lap when Thorson went third to first within a half lap, first charging by Grant for second midway down the back straightaway, then dove to the bottom of turns three and four to swipe the lead from Bacon.
Following a front straightaway flip performed by Sterling Cling (24th), which also ensnarled Danny Faria Jr. (25th) on lap five, Grant relegated Bacon back to third on the sixth lap as Grant muscled his way under at the exit of turn four to put himself in the runner-up spot. Bacon ultimately regained the second position from Grant a mere three laps later.
Out front, Thorson continued to pull away on top, with everyone else following suit on the high line in their pursuit of the 2015 Turkey Night Grand Prix Midget winner when it was held at Perris.
Thorson, meanwhile, had lost his brakes about halfway through, and the issue came into focus as he attempted to put Tommy Malcolm a lap down in the running order with a turn one slider on the 17th lap that initially worked in his favor. However, as Thorson drifted past and glided up the racetrack, all momentum was lost, and opportunity was gained by both Malcolm to get his lap back momentarily as well as Bacon to race past and become the new leader.
As Bacon caressed a 2.089 second advantage with 10 laps remaining, Carson Short and Logan Williams were waging their own battle for the 17th position, which resulted in Williams enduring a rapid tumble after contact with both Short and the wall sent him on a wild ride of which he walked away from.
While Thorson went on the attack in turn two for second with Grant on lap 22, Grant had his sights set on ripping away Bacon’s lead entering turn three. Grant ably pulled even with Bacon through the corners but was unable to make a successful go of it as of yet.
Grant tailed Bacon around the entire circumference of the half-mile dirt oval from his view a half-car length back as the two crossed underneath the flag stand with three laps to go. That’s precisely where Grant made a swift maneuver to the bottom of turn one and stole the lead away with the race’s distance waning in the balance.
Taken by utter and complete surprise just two laps later, Bacon pounced as Grant slowed to a crawl on the topside of the racetrack, clearing him between turns one and two as he cut underneath Grant with Thorson in tow to second. Thorson nearly climbed Grant’s left rear tire coming off turn two, which stifled him momentarily, and allowed Bacon free reign to put the clamp and his stamp on the victory over Thorson, Kevin Thomas Jr., C.J. Leary and Thursday’s winner Jake Swanson.
Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.) finished a fine second after leading 13 laps in his Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports/AME Electrical – Mesilla Valley Transportation/Spike/Stanton Chevy.
Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) followed up Thursday’s runner-up finish with a solid third on Friday in his KT Motorsports/Dr. Pepper Presents the Ronald McDonald House Charities/DRC/Speedway Chevy. The 2017-18 Oval Nationals winner feels like he’s got a good gameplan if the track conditions are similar to Thursday’s and acknowledges having to find a little bit something more for conditions akin to those he faced on Friday night.
Six drivers – Jake Swanson, Kevin Thomas Jr., Brady Bacon, Tanner Thorson, C.J. Leary and Justin Grant ranked as the top-six overall points-getters throughout the first two evenings of the Oval Nationals. All six are locked into the first three rows of Saturday night’s 40-lap main event. The starting order of those first three rows will be determined via a Super 6 Dash which pits six cars against each for a six-lap race with high stakes.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP & AMSOIL USAC CRA SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS: November 5, 2021 – Perris Auto Speedway – Perris, California – 1/2-Mile Dirt Oval – 25th Heimark Anheuser Busch Budweiser Oval Nationals Presented by All Coast Construction
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR/WOODLAND AUTO DISPLAY QUALIFYING: 1. Jake Swanson, 21AZ, Team AZ-16.434; 2. Kevin Thomas Jr., 9K, KT-16.486; 3. Tanner Thorson, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-16.508; 4. Charles Davis Jr., 47, Davis-16.576; 5. Matt McCarthy, 28m, McCarthy-16.593; 6. C.J. Leary, 77m, Michael-16.634; 7. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-16.653; 8. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-16.763; 9. Chase Johnson, 2, Yeley-16.781; 10. Logan Williams, 5w, McCarthy-16.798; 11. Austin Williams, 92, Sertich-16.803; 12. Shane Cottle, 74x, Hodges-16.830; 13. Dennis Gile, 13G, Gile-16.862; 14. Damion Gardner, 1, Alexander-16.865; 15. Cody Williams, 44, Williams-16.885; 16. Max Adams, 73 Ford-16.916; 17. A.J. Bender, 21, Bender-16.932; 18. Sterling Cling, 34, Cling-17.004; 19. Tommy Malcolm, 5x, Napier-17.045; 20. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 51T, Tafoya-17.058; 21. Chris Windom, 19, Hayward-17.065; 22. Alex Banales, 5A, Baldwin/Fox-17.136; 23. R.J. Johnson, 51, Johnson-17.148; 24. Matt Mitchell, 37, Mitchell-17.157; 25. Chris Gansen, 4G, Gansen-17.173; 26. Logan Seavey, 5, Baldwin/Fox-17.175; 27. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-17.181; 28. Danny Faria Jr., 17v, Hollywood-17.230; 29. Carson Short, 17, Snow-17.255; 30. Verne Sweeney, 98, Tracy-17.295; 31. Tye Mihocko, 38, Crossno-17.388; 32. Kyle Edwards, 39E, Edwards-17.489; 33. Brent Owens, 71, RMR-17.516; 34. Shane Sexton, 74, Sexton/Gatlin-17.552; 35. Dan Taylor, T5, Taylor-18.025; 36. Chris Muraoka, 73x, Ford-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS/FLOWDYNAMICS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Chris Windom, 2. Jake Swanson, 3. A.J. Bender, 4. Carson Short, 5. Chase Johnson, 6. Dennis Gile, 7. Chris Gansen, 8. Matt McCarthy, 9. Brent Owens. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI)/HUNTINGTON BEACH GLASS & MIRROR SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 2. Damion Gardner, 3. C.J. Leary, 4. Logan Williams, 5. Logan Seavey, 6. Alex Banales, 7. Shane Sexton, 8. Verne Sweeney, 9. Sterling Cling. NT
INDY METAL FINISHING/ALL COAST CONSTRUCTION THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. R.J. Johnson, 2. Tanner Thorson, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Austin Williams, 5. Tommy Malcolm, 6. Cody Williams, 7. Brody Roa, 8. Tye Mihocko, 9. Dan Taylor. NT
INDY RACE PARTS/COMPONENT REPAIR COMPANY FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Brady Bacon, 2. Matt Mitchell, 3. Shane Cottle, 4. Danny Faria Jr., 5. Kyle Edwards, 6. Charles Davis Jr., 7. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 8. Max Adams, 9. Chris Muraoka. NT
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-8 transfer to the feature) 1. Charles Davis Jr., 2. Cody Williams, 3. Chase Johnson, 4. Dennis Gile, 5. Logan Seavey, 6. Tommy Malcolm, 7. Max Adams, 8. Sterling Cling, 9. Kyle Edwards, 10. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 11. Brody Roa, 12. Alex Banales, 13. Shane Sexton, 14. Brent Owens, 15. Dan Taylor, 16. Matt McCarthy, 17. Tye Mihocko, 18. Chris Gansen, 19. Verne Sweeney. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (1), 2. Tanner Thorson (4), 3. Kevin Thomas Jr. (5), 4. C.J. Leary (3), 5. Jake Swanson (6), 6. Shane Cottle (13), 7. Justin Grant (2), 8. Chris Windom (7), 9. Austin Williams (12), 10. Brody Roa (25-P), 11. Chase Johnson (10), 12. Charles Davis Jr. (9), 13. Damion Gardner (15), 14. Max Adams (17), 15. Carson Short (24), 16. Logan Seavey (22), 17. Dennis Gile (14), 18. Cody Williams (16), 19. Matt Mitchell (21), 20. Chris Gansen (26-P), 21. Tommy Malcolm (20), 22. R.J. Johnson (8), 23. A.J. Bender (18), 24. Logan Williams (11), 25. Sterling Cling (19), 26. Danny Faria Jr. (23). NT
(P) represents a USAC CRA provisional starter
**Matt McCarthy flipped during the semi. Sterling Cling flipped on lap 5 of the feature. Logan Williams flipped on lap 20 of the feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-3 Brady Bacon, Laps 4-16 Tanner Thorson, Laps 17-27 Brady Bacon, Laps 28-29 Justin Grant, Lap 30 Brady Bacon.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Brady Bacon-2741, 2-Kevin Thomas Jr.-2677, 3-Justin Grant-2573, 4-Tanner Thorson-2456, 5-C.J. Leary-2435, 6-Chris Windom-2372, 7-Jake Swanson-2281, 8-Robert Ballou-1987, 9-Chase Stockon-1709, 10-Logan Seavey-1438.
AMSOIL USAC CRA SPRINT CAR POINTS: 1-Damion Gardner-1256, 2-Brody Roa-1184, 3-Austin Williams-1068, 4-Chris Gansen-969, 5-Cody Williams-905, 6-Tommy Malcolm-860, 7-Charles Davis Jr.-795, 8-Eddie Tafoya Jr.-616, 9-Verne Sweeney-614, 10-Matt McCarthy-590.
OVAL NATIONALS POINTS: (TOP-6 LOCKED INTO SATURDAY’S FEATURE) 1-Jake Swanson-285, 2-Kevin Thomas Jr.-284, 3-Brady Bacon-284, 4-Tanner Thorson-276, 5-C.J. Leary-270, 6-Justin Grant-252, 7-Chris Windom-233, 8-Austin Williams-232, 9-Shane Cottle-227, 10-Carson Short-212.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-186, 2-Justin Grant-167, 3-Tanner Thorson-162, 4-Brady Bacon-158, 5-Logan Seavey-140, 6-Kevin Thomas Jr.-137, 7-Thomas Meseraull-133, 8-Robert Ballou-131, 9-Shane Cottle-98, 10-Buddy Kofoid-91.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP & AMSOIL USAC CRA RACE: November 6, 2021 – Perris Auto Speedway – Perris, California – 1/2-Mile Dirt Oval – 25th Heimark Anheuser Busch Budweiser Oval Nationals Presented by All Coast Construction
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
GSP Driving Performance of the Night: Carson Short
Fatheadz Eyewear/Woodland Auto Display Fast Qualifier: Jake Swanson
Simpson Race Products/Flowdynamics First Heat Winner: Chris Windom
Competition Suspension, Inc./Huntington Beach Glass & Mirror Second Heat Winner: Kevin Thomas Jr.
Indy Metal Finishing/All Coast Construction Third Heat Winner: R.J. Johnson
Indy Race Parts/Component Repair Company Fourth Heat Winner: Brady Bacon
Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi-Feature Winner: Charles Davis Jr.
KSE Racing Products/In Memory of Jim & Chet Gardner Hard Charger: Carson Short (24th to 15th)
Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher: Damion Gardner
Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer: Kyle Edwards
Schoenfeld Hard Work Award: Carson Short
Shawn McDonald Memorial 6th Place Qualifying Award: C.J. Leary
Shawn McDonald Memorial 6th Place Feature Award: Shane Cottle