Jake Swanson (21AZ) during the Avanti Corn Belt Clash at Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa, featuring the USAC AMSOILINC National Sprint Cars
Jake Swanson won Saturday's Corn Belt Clash at Knoxville Raceway. (Ray Hague photo)

Swanson Runs Down Bacon At Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Brady Bacon had his third USAC Corn Belt Clash victory in his sights, but Jake Swanson stole the show Saturday night at the Avanti Windows and Doors Corn Belt Clash featuring the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series at Knoxville Raceway.

The victory was worth $12,000 aboard the Team AZ No. 21az for the Anaheim, Calif., driver.  

C.J. Leary led early in the 30-lap USAC main event, ahead of Kyle Cummins, Justin Grant, Emerson Axsom and Bacon. Bacon made quick work of Axsom to move into fourth on lap two. 

Up front, Cummins slid by Leary on lap three, only to have Leary get back by on the straightaway. Another dive by Cummins secured the lead at the start/finish line.  Meanwhile, Bacon moved into third. Bacon used a slider in turn one to pass Leary for second on lap six, and then utilized a slider in turn three to take the lead from Cummins on lap nine.

Bacon entered lapped traffic on the sixteenth lap while pulling away. Five laps later, Logan Calderwood brought out the only caution of the event, when he stopped in turn four with nine laps to go.  Bacon led Cummins, Leary, Justin Grant and Jake Swanson back to green.

Grant and Leary battled for third, with Grant ending up over the turn two cushion and buffeted backwards.  With six to go, it was evident rubber was developing on the track and Swanson took to it, passing Leary for third.  Two laps later, he slid by Cummins for second.

Swanson slowly reeled in Bacon, and pulled to his bumper at the white flag lap. He pulled off a slide job in turn four on the final lap and made it stick to gain the big payday. Bacon finished second, and Mitchel Moles charged late into third. 

“To be honest with you, I knew the rubber was coming, but I didn’t think I was going to have a shot at winning the thing,” said Swanson. “The rubber came really hard and really fast.  I was just so tight, and into it. I had to be ginger with it. I smashed it a couple times down there and the thing biked up. The turn of events took place, and it was amazing.  I couldn’t believe we were so good in the rubber. I’m so pumped to get Team Arizona in victory circle at Knoxville.”

“We had a good car for the dirt part of the race, but we definitely weren’t ready for the pavement portion,” said a disappointed Bacon, who now leads the points with the series. “We knew we were going to be on the cushion and were the best at that. Unfortunately, my tire didn’t hang on, and actually fell apart with a couple to go.”

“I knew it was going to rubber early,” said Moles. “You could smell it on the front straightaway. I could feel it on the left rear. I just stuck the right rear up in the clay and we did what we could. I knew it was going to a rubber race at the end, so I wanted to have as much tire and do what Jake and I were doing there at the end, just kind of bombing through it and using every last bit of tire.”

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Jake Swanson in victory lane at Knoxville Raceway. (Ken Simon photo)

The Boxscore

USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship, Knoxville Raceway, Knoxville, Iowa, June 3, 2023

HONEST ABE ROOFING QUALIFYING: 1. Jake Swanson, 21AZ, Team AZ-19.642; 2. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-19.667; 3. Daison Pursley, 5p, KO-19.868; 4. Kyle Cummins, 3R, Rock Steady-19.938; 5. Emerson Axsom, 47BC, Clauson Marshall-19.960; 6. Justin Grant, 4, TOPP-19.983; 7. C.J. Leary, 15x, BGE Dougherty-19.985; 8. Max Adams, 17GP, Dutcher-19.992; 9. Mitchel Moles, 19AZ, Reinbold/Underwood-20.014; 10. Matt Westfall, 33m, Marshall-20.065; 11. Riley Kreisel, 91, DKR-20.135; 12. Chase Stockon, 5s, KO-20.142; 13. Logan Seavey, 2B, 2B Racing-20.200; 14. J.J. Yeley, 2J, Yeley-20.272; 15. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-20.293; 16. Justin Zimmerman, 1, D-Up-20.308; 17. Wyatt Burks, 11w, Burks-20.350; 18. Carson Garrett, 15, BGE Dougherty-20.390; 19. Matt Mitchell, 37, Mitchell-20.405; 20. Isaac Chapple, 6D, Chapple/Hall-20.412; 21. Chase Johnson, 2, Yeley-20.456; 22. Logan Calderwood, 6, Calderwood-20.461; 23. Charles Davis Jr., 47, Davis-20.549; 24. Wesley Smith, 44, Smith-20.709; 25. Dalton Stevens, 99x, Stevens-20.978; 26. Don Droud Jr., 1m, Burch-21.158; 27. Jonathan Hughes, 67, Hughes-21.399; 28. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 51T, Tafoya-21.668; 29. Brian Ruhlman, 49, Ruhlman-21.806; 30. Ben Woods, 11B, B & R-21.904; 31. Vinny Ward, 82, Ward-22.368; 32. Doug Sylvester, 12x, Sylvester-22.638.

SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Mitchel Moles, 2. Chase Johnson, 3. Emerson Axsom, 4. Jake Swanson, 5. Wyatt Burks, 6. Logan Seavey, 7. Dalton Stevens, 8. Brian Ruhlman. 2:54.94

ROD END SUPPLY SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Carson Garrett, 2. Matt Westfall, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Brady Bacon, 5. J.J. Yeley, 6. Don Droud Jr., 7. Ben Woods, 8. Logan Calderwood. NT

T.J. FORGED THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. C.J. Leary, 2. Matt Mitchell, 3. Robert Ballou, 4. Riley Kreisel, 5. Charles Davis Jr., 6. Vinny Ward, 7. Jonathan Hughes, 8. Daison Pursley. 2:55.63

CAR IQ FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Wesley Smith, 2. Justin Zimmerman, 3. Kyle Cummins, 4. Max Adams, 5. Chase Stockon, 6. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 7. Doug Sylvester, 8. Isaac Chapple. NT

ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-6 transfer to the feature) 1. J.J. Yeley, 2. Chase Stockon, 3. Charles Davis Jr., 4. Logan Calderwood, 5. Daison Pursley, 6. Dalton Stevens, 7. Logan Seavey, 8. Wyatt Burks, 9. Don Droud Jr., 10. Vinny Ward, 11. Ben Woods, 12. Eddie Tafoya Jr., 13. Doug Sylvester, 14. Jonathan Hughes, 15. Brian Ruhlman. 4:14.99

FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Jake Swanson (6), 2. Brady Bacon (5), 3. Mitchel Moles (7), 4. C.J. Leary (1), 5. Emerson Axsom (3), 6. Matt Westfall (12), 7. Chase Johnson (19), 8. Justin Zimmerman (17), 9. Daison Pursley (10), 10. Riley Kreisel (13), 11. Robert Ballou (16), 12. Wesley Smith (9), 13. Carson Garrett (8), 14. Kyle Cummins (4), 15. Justin Grant (2), 16. Charles Davis Jr. (21), 17. J.J. Yeley (15), 18. Matt Mitchell (18), 19. Chase Stockon (14), 20. Logan Seavey (23-P), 21. Dalton Stevens (22), 22. Max Adams (11), 23. Logan Calderwood (20).