Brady Bacon stalked polesitter Kevin Thomas Jr. and swept past him with seven laps left Thursday night to capture the Driven2SavesLives BC39 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s new dirt track in front of 6,000 plucky open-wheel fans.
The race, which attracted a record 118 entries and was named in memory of the late USAC star Bryan Clauson, finished early Friday morning after day-long rains forced USAC officials to cancel the E-D-C-B main events and just go with qualifying races and the 39-lap main event.
Bacon started seventh and came charging to the front with Chad Boat in tow and they both maneuvered past Thomas.
Thomas led the first 32 laps before Bacon blasted by and then held off Boat to earn $15,000 and his first USAC national midget win of the season.
“I knew we had a strong car and the one time I pulled alongside of Kevin and didn’t get by I thought I might have blown it but I stayed patient and was able to get past,” said the native of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, whose Toyota-powered car was prepared by former drivers Bob East and Brad Noffsinger. “I just want to thank everyone for putting this amazing show together and thank the fans for hanging in there during all the rain delays. This was a great event and I hope we come back next year.”
Bacon made his decisive move in Turn 4 of the quarter-mile oval with seven laps remaining, passing Thomas for the lead with a powerful move in the low groove. Boat jumped to second one lap later and set his sights on Bacon but never pulled even with the “Macho Man” over the last five laps.
“We’ve been usually the best guy on the bottom, and the track was really tricky with the cushion being so big from the rain,” said Bacon, whose wife is expecting their third child anytime. “That’s kind of what we gambled on. We wanted to really get a lot of acceleration off the bottom and really stick it in sideways like that. They gave me a perfect race car.”
Boat, son of the 1998 Indianapolis 500 polesitter, was equally impressive as he stormed up from 10th in the 26-car field.
“I had a great car but I just couldn’t get a clear shot at Brady because of traffic,” he said. “But racing here at Indianapolis was so cool and I hope it was a good show for the fans.”
Thomas claimed third, while Tyler Courtney finished fourth and Christopher Bell stormed all the way from 17th to fifth.
Clauson, who lost his life in 2016 at Belleville, saved four people’s lives because he was an organ donor and the race increased awareness of the Indiana Donor Network and its Driven2SaveLives campaign.
NBCSN will show a one-hour special of the race Friday night at 6 p.m. ET.