Brady Bacon wasn’t the fastest driver on the track early Saturday evening at Bakersfield Speedway.
But when it came time for the USAC National Midget main event, the driver from Broken Arrow, Okla. was uncatchable.
Bacon, who had to advance through a semifinal to make the feature, led the final 24 laps to win the first USAC National race at the track in 17 years.
“I want to say happy birthday to my two kids,” Bacon said from Victory Lane. “(Today) is their birthday so this is for them.”
Bacon qualified fourth in the 30-car field but stumbled in his heat race, finishing fifth which relegated him to the semi, which he won.
Bacon stated seventh in the feature and powered past early leader Michael Faccinto on the seventh lap and was never challenged.
He ended up 2.1 seconds ahead of second-place Spencer Bayston with fast qualifier Tanner Thorson third.
“We were a little concerned it would be a one-groove track but it widened up,” Bacon said of the the track. “We’ve got our motor program tuned up, this is our second race on this new engine package.”
It was the third win of the season for Bacon, which tied him with points leader Bayston.
But Bayston came into the race with a 66-point lead and he will lock up the championship if he starts the 77th Turkey Night Grand Prix on Thanksgiving Night in Ventura.
“Too many were things going against us early in the year (and) that’s pretty hard to make up,” Bacon said of likely coming up short for the championship. “(Bayston) would have had to have two really bad nights and that’s pretty unlikely.”
Bayston said once Bacon was in front there was little chance to catch him, especially with a championship on line as the leaders zipped in and out of traffic the final seven laps.
“You have to be careful, you have to think of the big picture,” Bayston said . Tanner Thorson who set fast time in qualifying, finished third, right behind Bayston.
“It was kind of hard not to have a good car here tonight (due to such a good track),” he said. “I did what I could do and came home with a third. Hat’s off to Brady. He found the top and jumped up there before it got too dirty to run.”
Tyler Courtney finished fourth with Shane Golobic fifth.
Bakersfield’s Cory Elliott finished 18th. Shannon McQueen of Tehachapi started 10th but collected in a first-lap accident, ending her night.
Ronnie Gardner locked up his fifth USAC Western States Midget championship with a 16th-place finish.