Bayston, Leary, Bacon & Courtney win at 4-Crown
Bayston, Leary, Bacon & Courtney win at 4-Crown
ROSSBURG, Ohio – Three different drivers visited Eldora Speedway’s victory stage for the first-time at Saturday night’s 36th running of the 4-Crown Nationals, while the fourth victor found victory lane for the first-time in that division.
Spencer Bayston, United States Auto Club (USAC) National Midget Series, C.J. Leary, USAC National Sprint Car Series and Tyler Courtney, USAC Silver Crown Series all picked up their first Eldora win, while Brady Bacon’s win with the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions (ASCoC) highlighted a busy night for him.
Bayston, of Lebanon, Indiana, celebrated his 19th birthday on Friday and then put the icing on the cake by picking up his first career win at the high-banked, one-half mile oval leading all 25-laps of the Midget main event. The win extends Bayston’s series points lead and makes him the first driver to sweep the Belleville (Kansas) Midget Nationals and the Eldora 4-Crown in the same season since Kasey Kahne did so in 2000.
It was also the third consecutive 4-Crown win for car owner Keith Kunz and his sixth in the last seven runnings of the prestigious event.
“It makes it easy when you have a good group of guys working behind you. They know what they’re doing and it definitely shows,” Bayston said. “I felt so comfortable. We raced here last night in the wing car (with the World of Outlaws) and didn’t do that great, but I really think it helped me. Coming here tonight in the midget, it felt like everything was in slow motion for me.”
Californian Shane Golobic made an impressive Eldora debut finishing second in the Midget main event, while Bacon finished in third-place ahead of Dave Darland and Tanner Thorson. Completing the top ten were Holly Shelton, Chad Boat, Tanner Carrick, Tyler Thomas and Alex Bright.
The second Midget heat race included a violent turn one crash by Rico Abreu of California. The defending champion of the Midget event of 4-Crown weekend got into the wall on the opening lap and went through a violent serious of flips before his machine came to a rest on its side in the middle of the racetrack. Abreu walked to the ambulance, was evaluated at the Premier Health Infield Care Center and transported to a local hospital. He was later transferred to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton and released on Sunday morning. The race resumed after repairs were made to the wheel fence.
Leary, of Greenfield, Indiana, has led USAC Sprint Car feature laps at Eldora before but has never been able to finish the job and pick up a win at the historic speedway. Saturday, Leary took the lead from series points leader Justin Grant on the second lap and then held off a late charge by Bacon to get the proverbial monkey off his back at Eldora.
“This place has been escaping me for three years now,” Leary exclaimed. “I’ve run second here it seems like every year. It feels good to finally park this thing down here in victory lane. I can’t thank (crew chief) Donnie Gentry, my dad and everybody whose helped us put this operation together.”
“These races are tough, especially when you don’t really know where the second-place guy is,” Leary continued. “I was on cruise control there and, luckily, I had a little bit left in the tank. I had a really good race car. This is a new DRC. We just built the car this week and, man, is it fast!”
Bacon settled for the runner-up finish ahead of Robert Ballou, Kevin Thomas, Jr. and Justin Grant completed the top five. Rounding out the top ten were Scotty Weir, Chris Windom, Thomas Messeraul, Chase Stockon and Matt Westfall.
After coming just short in the non-wing sprint event, Bacon, who was the only driver competing in all four divisions, started the winged ASCoC event on the pole and jumped to the early lead and never relinquished the top spot through the entire 25-lap distance.
Bryan Knuckles had a strong run to finish in second-place, while rookie Max Stambaugh completed a surprising top-three. Veterans Lee Jacobs and Hunter Shuerenberg completed the top-five. Finishing sixth through tenth were Dan McCarron, Ian Madsen, Joey Saldana, Caleb Armstrong and John Garvin.
“This is a big win for my team. We’ve been struggling with this car all year. It has definitely been hit and miss,” Bacon said. “To get my first All Star win at Eldora Speedway with all my friends and family here, it’s really special for me. If you would have told me that this was the feature I was going to win tonight, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Bacon said. “We’ve been 3, 2, 1 so far here tonight. Hopefully we can get another one.”
In hot laps, rookie driver Tyler Esh made hard contact with the turn two wall, spinning back across the track into the path of driver Dane Lorenc. Following a careful extrication, Esh was transported to a local hospital for evaluation, later transferred to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton for treatment of head, back and chest injuries and returned home to Pennsylvania on Tuesday evening.
“Sunshine” Tyler Courtney outraced series champion Kody Swanson into turn one on the opening lap of the USAC Silver Crown 50-lap feature race and then staved off a challenge from Chris Windom in the closing laps to pick up his first Eldora win.
“The tires started going away a little bit at the end,” Courtney said. “I knew if I could gap myself on the starts and restarts and give myself a little cushion to be able to run hard on the start, then save a little bit, we’d have something at the end there. It held together. I could see Chris (Windom) there behind me on the (video board) screen. I’m just trying to hit my marks, but it was pretty tricky down in (turns) one and two to hit the same spot on the wall twice to get you going down the back straight. But, everything went our way tonight.”
Windom held on for second-place ahead of Shane Cottle, Darland and Bacon, who charged from 18th starting position to his fourth top-five finish of the night. Completing the top ten in the final event were Grant, Shuerenberg, David Byrne, Ballou and Jerry Coons, Jr.
Driver Patrick Burns, from Illinois, flipped wildly during qualifying. He was evaluated and treated for a foot injury in the Premier Health Infield Care Center and transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. He was transferred to Miami Valley Hospital for additional treatment and released on Tuesday.
Eldora Speedway returns to action October 5th-6th-7th with the annual Allstar Performance Fall Nationals featuring the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds and Late Models. The Modifieds will run four $1,000-to-win feature events on Thursday, October 5th and four $2,000-to-win feature events on Friday, October 6th. The weekend concludes on Saturday night, October 7th for the Modifieds with tournament-style qualifying races setting the fields for three feature races paying $1,000, $2,000, $3,000 and the $5,000-to-win UMP National Championship. The Late Models will run a full racing program and a $5,000-to-win UMP National Championship.