Eventual winner Brady Bacon (#69) battles with Logan Seavey (#5) for the lead during the late stages of Friday night's Western World Championship opener for the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship. (Lonnie Wheatley Photo) (Video Highlights from FloRacing.com)
By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
San Tan Valley, Arizona (November 12, 2021)………There’s just something magical in the symbiosis between Brady Bacon and Western World.
The Broken Arrow, Okla. driver collected his 10th career victory in the event Friday night at Arizona Speedway as he tracked down racelong leader Logan Seavey with five laps remaining, then thwarted Seavey’s comeback slider in the final corner on the final lap, driving back by to capture the victory in the 54th annual Western World Championships Presented by San Tan Ford opener for the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship.
With his winning performance and Kevin Thomas Jr.’s subsequent misfortune, Bacon clinched the 2021 USAC National Sprint Car driving championship with one race remaining Saturday night.
Bacon’s fourth career series title makes him just the third driver to capture at least four championships in his career, joining five-timer Levi Jones (2005-07-09-10-11) and fellow four-time titlist Steve Butler (1986-87-88-90) while also garnering Dynamics, Inc. a record-extending 13th series entrant championship.
The milestones were racked up in droves throughout the night with Bacon also becoming just the ninth driver to win at least 40 career USAC National Sprint Car feature events. His 40th ties him with Gary Bettenhausen for eighth on the all-time series win list.
Bacon’s Western World record continues to be remarkable and impeccable ever since winning his first race in the esteemed event in 2009. He won two 360 c.i. non-wing sprint car races at Tucson, Arizona’s USA Raceway in 2009 and repeated in the same division there once more in 2010 with the ASCS Canyon Region series.
Furthermore, at Peoria, Arizona’s Canyon Speedway Park in 2012, Bacon was an ASCS Winged 360 Sprint Car feature winner. He returned to USA Raceway in 2015 to add a USAC National Sprint Car triumph.
When Western World migrated to Arizona Speedway in San Tan Valley, Ariz., Bacon’s winning ways continued with USAC Southwest 360 Sprint Car scores in 2016-17-18, followed by a USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget win in 2019 and, finally, his USAC National Sprint Car tally Friday night, displaying a knack for success in the event unlike any other.
“This race has been great to me over the years, and I’ve got another win tonight,” Bacon exclaimed. “I’ve won at three different tracks that the Western World has been at. I don’t know what it is about the race; we just seem to find our way to victory lane. It doesn’t matter if it’s wing, non-wing, 360, 410 or midget, there’s just something about this race. There’s great fans in Arizona and a lot of history here, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Bacon started third in the 30-lap feature event aboard his Dynamics, Inc./Fatheadz Eyewear – Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts – TelStar/Triple X/Rider Chevy while Arizona native and USAC National Sprint Car Rookie Sterling Cling led the charge to the green flag. However, it was outside front row starter Logan Seavey who established the pace up front from the get-go.
Drifting from third back to sixth on the opening lap, Bacon was forced to steadily work his way back into contention, to fifth on lap five, to fourth on lap seven and to third just past the midway point as he slid past his nearest championship foe, Kevin Thomas Jr., with a turn three slide job on lap 17.
Two laps later, Bacon surged past Jake Swanson for the second position, utilizing the bottom of turns one and two, then set his sights on tracking down the leader, Seavey, who, at that point in time, was mired knee deep in a tussle with myriad of cars on the tail end of the lead lap, thus shrinking the 1.5 interval in half between himself and Seavey.
That margin was scrunched up even more on the 22nd lap when the lapped cars of Jake Helsel and Caleb Stelzig tangled in turn three, sending Helsel spinning backwards to a stop. Second running Thomas Jr. was already committed and affixed to the bottom groove, and with nowhere to roam, connected right rear to right rear with Hessel, ending Hessel’s evening and ending Thomas Jr. slim title chances for good when he came to a stop. Thomas Jr. did, however, restart and finish 13th.
With Bacon now right on the back bumper of Seavey with eight laps remaining, both drivers stayed attached to their comfort zones, Seavey striding on the cushion and Bacon rolling the bottom, which proved to be equal with both drivers side-by-side lap-after-lap, with nary a car length separating the two on laps 22-23-24-25.
It was the 26th lap that turned the tide in Bacon’s favor after Seavey got tight on the cushion in turns one and two, sending him skating up the 1/3-mile dirt oval which allowed Bacon to break free with six car lengths of daylight between the two on the back straightaway.
Seavey regained his footing and began rapidly reeling in Bacon who had occupied the low line in turns one and two and the top in three and four during the late stages. Seavey took the high road in turns one and two to close within a car length of Bacon midway down the back straight.
“Three and four was kind of the question, I didn’t know where I should be and whether I should stay on the bottom or go back to the top,” Bacon quizzed. “I felt like it was going to have to be harder for someone else to pass me on the bottom that it would be for them to rip around me on the top if I made a mistake.”
It was right there, at that moment, Seavey fired a deep shot at Bacon on the bottom of three, sliding three lengths ahead of Bacon before plowing his right rear into and over the edge of the turn four cushion. Bacon was prepared and had his front wheels pointed straight to the bottom of four to charge back by and cross the stripe 0.495 of a second ahead of Seavey with Tanner Thorson third, C.J. Leary fourth and Charles Davis Jr. fifth.
“It was easier to make a mistake on the top, I felt like, and the bottom is kind of my bread and butter and the top is probably his,” Bacon noted. “It was just going to be whoever messed up. On the last lap, I messed up on the bottom of one and two and gave him a shot at me. Luckily, I had enough drive off the bottom of four to get back by him.”
Despite coming up just short after leading a race-high 25 laps, Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) displayed his reemergence after a rough go last weekend during three nights of racing in Perris, Calif. which saw all three finishes outside the top-ten. Seavey’s second place performance was his best result with the series since a runner-up finish during the 4-Crown Nationals at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in his Baldwin-Fox Racing/Fox Paving – Claxton Engines/DRC/Claxton Chevy.
Tanner Thorson (Minden, Nev.) obliterated the one-lap USAC National Sprint Car track record at Arizona Speedway in Fatheadz Qualifying with a lap of 14.390 seconds, erasing the five-year-old record of 13.625, set by Chad Boespflug in 2016. Thorson was briefly in contention for the win with seven laps remaining before ultimately finishing third in his Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports/AME Electrical – Mesilla Valley Transportation/Spike/Stanton Chevy, his 14th finish of sixth or better in his last 15 starts.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP & AMSOIL USAC CRA SPRINT CAR RACE RESULTS: November 12, 2021 – Arizona Speedway – San Tan Valley, Arizona – 1/3-Mile Dirt Oval – 54th Western World Championships Presented by San Tan Ford0
FLIGHT ONE FATHEADZ EYEWEAR/WOODLAND AUTO DISPLAY QUALIFYING: 1. Tanner Thorson, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-14.390 (New Track Record); 2. C.J. Leary, 77m, Michael-14.549; 3. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-14.609; 4. Logan Seavey, 5, Baldwin/Fox-15.005; 5. Stevie Sussex, 34AZ, Grau-15.231; 6. Thomas Meseraull, 2, Yeley-15.267; 7. Brody Roa, 91R, BR-15.269; 8. Tommy Malcolm, 5x, Napier-15.290; 9. Jake Helsel, 44H, Helsel-15.415; 10. Charles Davis Jr., 47, Davis-15.416; 11. Logan Calderwood, 6, Calderwood-15.548; 12. Verne Sweeney, 98, Tracy-15.590; 13. Kyle Shipley, 57, Stone-15.610; 14. Tye Mihocko, 38, Crossno-15.677; 15. Austin Grabowski, 72, Grabowski-15.706; 16. Bruce St. James, 7K, St. James-15.771; 17. Spencer Hill, 7D7, West-16.061; 18. Jimmy Pontin, 24, Pontin-16.670; 19. Shane Cottle, 74x, Hodges-19.960.
FLIGHT TWO FATHEADZ EYEWEAR/WOODLAND AUTO DISPLAY QUALIFYING: 1. Kevin Thomas Jr., 9K, KT-14.700; 2. Jake Swanson, 21AZ, Team AZ-14.723; 3. Chris Windom, 19, Hayward-14.873; 4. Sterling Cling, 34, Cling-15.003; 5. Damion Gardner, 1, Alexander-15.046; 6. Austin Williams, 92, Sertich-15.099; 7. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-15.157; 8. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 51T, Tafoya-15.170; 9. Cody Williams, 44, Williams-15.237; 10. Chris Gansen, 4G, Gansen-15.269; 11. R.J. Johnson, 51, Johnson-15.292; 12. Caleb Stelzig, 21x, Stelzig-15.465; 13. Chris Bonneau, 15, Bonneau-15.473; 14. Alex Banales, 5A, Baldwin/Fox-15.664; 15. Colt Treharn, 77, Treharn-15.844; 16. Daylin Perreira, 21p, Perreira-16.090; 17. Danny Mathus, 42, Mathus-16.213; 18. Ikaika O'Brien, 11o, O'Brien-16.314; 19. Tuesday Calderwood, 4c, Calderwood-16.355.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS / FLOWDYNAMICS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Jake Helsel, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Stevie Sussex, 4. Brody Roa, 5. Tanner Thorson, 6. Logan Calderwood, 7. Austin Grabowski, 8. Kyle Shipley, 9. Spencer Hill, 10. Shane Cottle. NT
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) / HUNTINGTON BEACH GLASS & MIRROR SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Charles Davis Jr., 2. C.J. Leary, 3. Logan Seavey, 4. Thomas Meseraull, 5. Tommy Malcolm, 6. Tye Mihocko, 7. Verne Sweeney, 8. Bruce St. James, 9. Jimmy Pontin. NT
INDY METAL FINISHING / ALL COAST CONSTRUCTION THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. R.J. Johnson, 2. Justin Grant, 3. Kevin Thomas Jr., 4. Cody Williams, 5. Damion Gardner, 6. Chris Bonneau, 7. Colt Treharn, 8. Tuesday Calderwood, 9. Chris Windom, 10. Danny Mathus. NT
INDY RACE PARTS / COMPONENT REPAIR COMPANY FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Caleb Stelzig, 2. Jake Swanson, 3. Sterling Cling, 4. Chris Gansen, 5. Austin Williams, 6. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 7. Alex Banales, 8. Daylin Perreira, 9. Ikaika O’Brien. NT
C-MAIN: (6 laps, top-4 transfer to the semi) 1. Shane Cottle, 2. Spencer Hill, 3. Daylin Perreira, 4. Jimmy Pontin, 5. Ikaika O’Brien, 6. Tuesday Calderwood, 7. Bruce St. James. NT
ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. Tanner Thorson, 2. Damion Gardner, 3. Austin Williams, 4. Tommy Malcolm, 5. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 6. Shane Cottle, 7. Logan Calderwood, 8. Tye Mihocko, 9. Chris Windom, 10. Chris Bonneau, 11. Alex Banales, 12. Austin Grabowski, 13. Kyle Shipley, 14. Daylin Perreira, 15. Verne Sweeney, 16. Colt Treharn, 17. Spencer Hill, 18. Jimmy Pontin. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Brady Bacon (3), 2. Logan Seavey (2), 3. Tanner Thorson (11), 4. C.J. Leary (5), 5. Charles Davis Jr. (8), 6. Chris Windom (23-P), 7. Austin Williams (15), 8. Justin Grant (17), 9. Brody Roa (16), 10. Tommy Malcolm (18), 11. Jake Swanson (4), 12. Eddie Tafoya Jr. (19), 13. Kevin Thomas Jr. (6), 14. Shane Cottle (22), 15. Damion Gardner (13), 16. R.J. Johnson (9), 17. Chris Gansen (21), 18. Verne Sweeney (24-P), 19. Caleb Stelzig (10), 20. Jake Helsel (7), 21. Sterling Cling (1), 22. Stevie Sussex (12), 23. Thomas Meseraull (14), 24. Cody Williams (20). NT
(P) represents a provisional starter
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-25 Logan Seavey, Laps 26-30 Brady Bacon.
**Bruce St. James flipped during the C-Main. Tuesday Calderwood flipped during the C-Main.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Brady Bacon-2880, 2-Kevin Thomas Jr.-2793, 3-Justin Grant-2696, 4-Tanner Thorson-2591, 5-C.J. Leary-2572, 6-Chris Windom-2477, 7-Jake Swanson-2386, 8-Robert Ballou-1987, 9-Chase Stockon-1709, 10-Logan Seavey-1548.
AMSOIL USAC CRA SPRINT CAR POINTS: 1-Damion Gardner-1315, 2-Brody Roa-1274, 3-Austin Williams-1132, 4-Chris Gansen-1026, 5-Cody Williams-968, 6-Charles Davis Jr.-907, 7-Tommy Malcolm-904, 8-Eddie Tafoya Jr.-679, 9-Verne Sweeney-666, 10-Logan Williams-605.
OVERALL PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Chris Windom-197, 2-Tanner Thorson-177, 2-Justin Grant-176, 4-Brady Bacon-160, 5-Kevin Thomas Jr.-147, 6-Logan Seavey-140, 7-Thomas Meseraull-140, 8-Robert Ballou-131, 9-Shane Cottle-106, 10-Buddy Kofoid-94.
NEXT USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP & AMSOIL USAC CRA RACE: November 13, 2021 – Arizona Speedway – San Tan Valley, Arizona – 1/3-Mile Dirt Oval – 54th Western World Championships Presented by San Tan Ford
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
GSP Driving Performance of the Night: Sterling Cling
Fatheadz Eyewear / Woodland Auto Display Fast Qualifier: Tanner Thorson
Simpson Race Products / Flowdynamics First Heat Winner: Jake Helsel
Competition Suspension, Inc. / Huntington Beach Glass & Mirror Second Heat Winner: Charles Davis Jr.
Indy Metal Finishing / All Coast Construction Third Heat Winner: R.J. Johnson
Indy Race Parts / Component Repair Company Fourth Heat Winner: Caleb Stelzig
Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi-Feature Winner: Tanner Thorson
KSE Racing Products / In Memory of Jim & Chet Gardner Hard Charger: Justin Grant (17th to 8th)
Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher: Kevin Thomas Jr.
Saldana Racing Products First Non-Transfer: Logan Calderwood
Bill’s Jerky Hard Luck Award: Logan Calderwood