February 21, 2014 — Chris Seelman photo — OCALA, FL — Brady Bacon started off his bid for the 2014 USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship with a win in Thursday’s season opening “Winter Dirt Games V” feature at Bubba Raceway Park.
The 24-year old Broken Arrow, Oklahoma native, who finished third in points last year, has already equaled his win total from 2013 aboard the all-time winningest entry in the series. With the win, the famed Hoffman Auto Racing group claimed their 83rd series victory.
Veterans Dave Darland and Tracy Hines led the field to green and diced hard in the opening laps, both seeking victories to advance their hunt of Tom Bigelow for the all-time series win record. After leading the opening lap, Hines saw Darland blast by before retaking the point in turn-one on lap three.
From there, Hines led at the front as defending series champion Bryan Clauson moved past Darland for second. Just behind him, Bacon was on the move from his sixth-starting spot, earned by virtue of his ProSource “Fast Qualifier Award,” which was worth $200.
After a flip on lap nine, Clauson went to work on Hines for the lead as Bacon trailed. The top three pulled away until Clauson suffered misfortune on lap 15, flattening a right-rear tire while all over Hines for the top spot. He restarted at the tail and would advance all the way to 7th at the checkered.
From there, it was a two-horse race as Bacon cut low off turn-four to steal the lead on lap 18 and race away from Hines. Without a caution, Bacon negotiated traffic to come home with a 2.593-second victory aboard the Mean Green – Lykins Oil #69 Triple X/Stanton Mopar.
“This probably wouldn’t have been a track we would have won on last year, so it’s a relief to get one right away. We’ve changed a lot of things to be good on a slicker track like this. We ran a ton of laps in practice last night, and it paid off. I didn’t think the top would last in turn-four, and I was just trying to hit that one little wet spot every time down lower. I think Clauson was gonna be a threat, but unfortunately for him, he got a flat. This bunch worked really hard in the winter, and I’m proud of them,” said the 24-year-old Bacon.
Hines held on for a strong second after leading sixteen laps in The Carolina Nut Company – Hansen’s Welding #4 DRC/Stanton Chevy.
“I struggled out of four all night. I just never got it figured out. Nothing I tried could fix it. Once Brady got me, I tried to attack it harder and it just wasn’t there. We’re better when it’s slick than we have been, but it’s just not enough yet. It was a good run, though, and a good first night for our Carolina Nut Company team,” Hines said.
Darland began to track Hines back down through traffic in the closing laps but had to settle for third in the Phillips Motorsports – Racer’s Advantage Store #71P DRC/Foxco.
“It was a really tricky track tonight, with a real slick end and then some holes on entry into one before you slide up and hit the cushion. We made a few adjustments under the red and just tried to figure out where the car was happy. It came around some at the end, and we had a chance at Tracy in traffic, but I could only gain on him off of four,” Darland said.
Shane Cottle completed a strong night with a heat race win and a fourth-place finish after starting tenth in the Epperson Painting – PPG #2 Spike/Claxton. Chase Stockon rounded out the top-five in the Superior Tank & Trailer – Crescent Electric Supply #32 DRC/Fisher.
RESULTS: USAC National Sprint Car Series Round #1 – Volusia Speedway Park (2/20/14)
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Brady Bacon, 2. Tracy Hines, 3. Dave Darland, 4. Shane Cottle, 5. Chase Stockon, 6. Justin Grant, 7. Bryan Clauson, 8. Jon Stanbrough, 9. Hunter Schuerenberg, 10. Chris Windom, 11. C.J. Leary, 12. Casey Shuman, 13. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 14. Mitch Wissmiller, 15. Jarett Andretti, 16. Mark Smith, 17. Shane Cockrum, 18. Travis Hery, 19. Carson Short, 20. Robert Ballou, 21. Brady Short, 22. Matt Westfall.
**Wissmiller flipped in Heat 4. Ballou & B. Short flipped on lap 9 of the Feature.