TUCSON, Ariz. — official series release — Rich Forman/USAC photo —
Brady Bacon capped Friday’s Western World Championships preliminary night at USA Raceway with his seventh win of the season in AMSOIL National Sprint Car competition.
The Broken Arrow, Okla., driver took charge just past halfway and held off Bryan Clauson to win by .377 seconds, marking the 100th USAC national feature victory for his Dynamics Inc. – Hoffman Auto Racing team.
Matt Rossi got the jump from the pole and led Tracy Hines early in the 30-lapper. Hines started to get a rhythm using the bottom after a few laps and reeled in Rossi. Hines crossed just behind Rossi on lap eight, but Rossi was still up to the challenge running the high side. The race’s only stoppage came on lap ten when Cody Williams flipped in turn four. He was unhurt.
Hines was on the attack at the restart, nailing the bottom through turns one and two to edge past Rossi and into the lead at the end of lap 10, but Rossi would not go away easily as he hammered the high side to shoot back past Hines for the lead. Meanwhile, Robert Ballou was looking to sew up his national championship after having problems early in the night and starting 17th. He worked into the top 10 at lap 12.
On lap 13, Rossi jumped the cushion between turns three and four just as Bacon snuck under Hines for the second spot. Rossi recovered momentarily, but Bacon was hot on his trail, flashing less than a car length back on lap 16.
Bacon went to the lead on lap 17, and just two laps later Clauson worked past Rossi, as well, as Hines, Kevin Thomas Jr., and Dave Darland were also coming fast. Ballou was running them down as he passed Rossi for seventh with less than 10 laps to go.
Up front, Clauson had caught Bacon but lost a little ground as he had to work to the outside of a lapped car. He came charging again on the white flag lap and had a clear lane on the bottom of turns one and two on the final lap, but Bacon ran the cushion to hold him off and move into a tie for 29th all-time with his 15th career win in the Hoffman Auto Racing – Mean Green No. 69 Triple X/Williams Mopar.
“Getting 100 wins and 10 championships, it’s cool to be in the seat and get those milestones for them,” Bacon said. “It’s an honor to drive their car. I didn’t know what was gonna happen with those two up front, so I had to take my time. The top was curby and it was hard to carry speed, but we were able to roll the bottom to get to the front. I tried to keep a decent pace through lapped cars and didn’t really make any big mistakes. I knew somebody had to be close back there, and if you messed up, it was gonna be a big effect.”
Clauson improved one spot from opening night and finished second in the B&H Contractors – Dooling Machine No. 63 Spike/Fisher.
“It was gonna be tough to complete anything there at the end,” Clauson explained. “I could maintain through one and two, but he was a bit better up top. He was good enough on the other end to take the lane up. Track position was the biggest hindrance for us, and he just didn’t make any mistakes at all. I had to slow up just a bit too much on entry to one on the last lap to have a shot at him. I felt like we were a tick better, but he wasn’t gonna give us a chance to take it.”
Hines continued his strong West Coast trip with a podium finish aboard his The Carolina Nut Company – MPHG Promotions No. 4 DRC/Stanton Chevy.
“I knew what the Hoffmans had on the 69 car and I knew pretty early that we weren’t quite gonna be tight enough,” Hines said. “We went a little safe just in case we were gonna have to run the cushion. We’re solid and locked in for tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens with our last race. I feel better now and am not hurting now after the injuries in the middle of the season, and there’s no braces or anything while I’m racing, and we’re back to running well again.”
Ballou’s incredible run from 17th ended with a fourth-place finish for the Pacific Turf & Grass – Blakesley Auto No. 12 Maxim/Ott, and the Rocklin, Calif., driver will clinch the AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship on Saturday.
Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top-five in the Griffin’s Propane – Bakken Concrete No. 17RW Maxim/Fisher.
Damion Gardner finished tenth and will also celebrate a championship on Saturday, as he claims another USAC/CRA Sprint Car title.
Bacon, Clauson, Hines, Ballou, Darland, Thomas, Gardner, and Aaron Farney are locked into Saturday’s dash to determine to first four rows of the night’s 40-lap championship feature.
RESULTS: AMSOIL USAC National Championship; Western World Championships — Night 2; USA Raceway; Nov. 20, 2015
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Brady Bacon, 2. Bryan Clauson, 3. Tracy Hines, 4. Robert Ballou, 5. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 6. Dave Darland, 7. Chase Stockon, 8. Jerry Coons, Jr., 9. Aaron Farney, 10. Damion Gardner, 11. Chris Windom, 12. Richard Vander Weerd, 13. Matt Rossi, 14. C.J. Leary, 15. Mike Spencer, 16. R.J. Johnson, 17. Justin Grant, 18. Jon Stanbrough, 19. Thomas Meseraull, 20. Jake Swanson, 21. Chad Boespflug, 22. Logan Williams, 23. Austin Williams, 24. Cody Williams, 25. Ryan Bernal. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-9 Rossi, Lap 10 Hines, Laps 11-16 Rossi, Laps 17-30 Bacon.
CREDIT: USAC Racing