SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Compared to his first two USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car driving championships in 2014 and ’16, the crown Brady Bacon achieved during the 2020 season hit differently.
Apart from those first two titles, where the Broken Arrow, Okla., native was solidified first and foremost as a wheelman by trade, in 2020, Bacon took a more hands-on approach to the proceedings from the ground-up, from the construction of the cars, to the fine-tuning throughout the season to extend the Dynamics, Inc. team’s record of series entrant championships to 12 alongside crewman D.J. Lebow and 2020 USAC Chief Mechanic of the Year, Matt Hummel.
“This one was a little different,” Bacon said. “We have a little more responsibility with the team now, so it’s a little more gratifying than the first two. We house the cars and everything at my shop in Union City, Ohio. D.J. and I work throughout the week whereas, on the other two that I won, I just showed up with my helmet bag and talked to the team about setups and stuff, but now we do it all in-house.”
“We took a lot of pride in the cars we built this year,” Bacon continued. “We made some changes for the tracks we struggled at, and we performed well at those tracks, which was the difference in winning the championship. I’m really proud to get Hoffman their 12th and my third. It was an up-and-down year, so to end it on high note was very exciting.”
Bacon’s 2020 highlight reel included a repeat victory of the $20,000 Brandt Corn Belt Nationals at Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway, a pair of wins at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind., and a season-ending Fall Nationals score at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the final of their season-leading six feature triumphs.
It was winning the opening two nights of the season in February at Bubba Raceway Park, a two-night sweep of Winter Dirt Games, that set the tone and served as a harbinger of things to come. The signal was clear after performances in recent years at Ocala that were described by Bacon as “terrible.” Bacon and team had seemingly strengthened their weaknesses and were a top-five threat, at worst, on any given night.
Shortly thereafter, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, shutting operations down worldwide for much of everybody in all walks of life, including USAC racing. However, while three-plus months passed by, the next task on Bacon’s itinerary wasn’t getting back behind the wheel, it was his debut as a race promoter – a pair of USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget events in late May in his home state of Oklahoma, which signaled a return to racing for the first time in a relative eternity.
The inaugural two-night event proved to be a rousing success, and from there, once it was time to get back in the driver’s seat, the success naturally translated to the cockpit, sending Bacon on his path toward the championship and subsequently rose him up the ranks of the USAC National Sprint Car division’s all-time leaderboards.
His 358 series starts rank 10th all-time while his 35 feature wins also place him 10th, equaled with Rich Vogler and Jon Stanbrough. Bacon has never been a so-called “stat watcher,” but once his name began appearing amid the top echelon of drivers from throughout the past six-and-a-half decades of the series, he admitted that it has started to hit him as he’s taken a peek of the lists of late, although there is still much work to do and many goals left to achieve and accomplish in his career.
“I never really did until we started creeping up the win list,” Bacon said. “To see the names you’re beside or surpassed and the ones you’re catching up to, it’s pretty cool. I’m about to turn 31 and by no means do I feel like I’m close to the end of my career, so I feel like I can win a lot more races. Obviously, we’d like to be at the top of the list and win the most championships, but I don’t really look that far ahead. I’m just trying to prepare for each season as best as we can and make any improvements we think we need to make.