Brady Bacon and Chase Stockon sat just outside the championship picture in 2013, finishing third and fourth in points, respectively. In a strange season that produced 21 wins for the threesome of champion Bryan Clauson, runner-up Dave Darland and fifth in points Kevin Thomas, Jr., only one win apiece fell to the duo.

With the 2014 season starting February 20-21-22 at Ocala, Florida’s Bubba Raceway Park, both are back and expected to compete full-time, looking to expand on their consistent form of last season and add in the win department. Bacon, the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma driver who competed full-time in 2007-2008 with Kasey Kahne Racing before pursuing other series, returned to USAC last season with the potent Hoffman Auto Racing team.

After combining for a few races in 2012, which included a win at West Memphis, Arkansas, the combination seemed to pick up steam as the season progressed, remaining mathematically in the title hunt until very late in the season. Despite Bacon’s few USAC starts in the previous four seasons and a switch in equipment for the team, the #69 amassed 17 top-five and 26 top-ten finishes in 33 races.

“It had been a long time since I had run regularly, so I had to adjust to the cars some and to tracks I hadn’t seen in a while. Thankfully, we were able to get our qualifying figured out early, as I hadn’t done the time-trial format much lately,” said the 24-year-old Bacon, adding, “I really enjoy racing with the Hoffmans; they take this just as seriously as I do. I know they’re doing whatever they can to make us fast. With a new deal for chassis and me coming back, we worked well to overcome that and keep getting better. We just need to come a little hotter out of the box this season and focus on salvaging the bad nights and making the most of our good ones.”

Owners of a record nine USAC National Sprint Car owner’s championships to go along with their all-time best 82 wins in the series, Hoffman Auto Racing brings back a similar program to last year for Bacon. After making the switch to Triple X chassis with Bacon’s arrival, the team will continue to utilize those frames along with Stanton Mopar engines as they have retained sponsors Mean Green, Lykins Oil, and Hoosier Tire.

“We’re grateful to have our sponsors back for this year to keep us going. We’ve focused on updating our equipment and making sure everything is ready. Brady’s been a great fit for us. He’s a lot of fun to be around and is very low-maintenance. We’re really glad to get together for a second year; we know each other a bit better now and got going faster at the end of last year,” team president Richard Hoffman said.

Stockon is ready for his third full season on tour, as the 25-year-old Elizabethtown, Indiana driver finished seventh in points on the strength of two wins in 2012 before his placing of fourth last season. In addition to 16 top-five finishes and 23 top-tens, he posted three fast times and won eight heat races. Stockon even led the point standings from early May until early June.

“Just the more we’ve run different tracks and against better cars, we’ve learned a lot. We took some data from nights we were fast and applied them to similar tracks, and we’ve just gradually gotten closer. Getting to race some local shows for Chris Gentry helped a lot, too, both with just racing more and with learning more to apply to my car,” said Stockon.

Stockon’s familiar, eye-catching #32 DRC/Fisher retains his key partners for this season, most notably co-owner Tom Burkey from Superior Tank & Trailer. Also supporting Stockon’s third-year effort are Crescent Electric Supply, Network Electric, Butlerbuilt, Ted Brown’s Quality Paint & Auto Body, Angle Buildings, Goodridge, and AFCO.

“We’re running the same combination we have for two years now. We have a lot of confidence after the way we ended this past year. Our goal was to finish this past season in the top-five, and it actually seemed to go a little better than I expected. Looking back now, though, there were a few nights where we had problems or let good finishes slip away, and without those we could have been in title contention. I don’t want to get too caught up in that stuff, though. We just want to keep the stress low and have as much fun as possible,” the always-optimistic Stockon said.

Both Bacon and Stockon have been strong in Florida, as neither finished outside the top-seven in any of the three features contested there last February. Next week’s “Winter Dirt Games V” kicks off with Wednesday’s practice night followed by three complete programs on the nights that follow.

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