Updated: 2022 BC39 boasts more than 85 entries, Kyle Larson declares on Friday

2022 BC39
Josh James / USAC.com

Boasting more than 85 entries, the 2022 Driven2SaveLives BC39, features top midget drivers pitted against an impressive cast of stars from other racing divisions, including four-time Indy 500 starter Zach Veach and Cup playoff hopeful Chase Briscoe.

Update: Hours before the deadline on Friday, Kyle Larson entered the BC39. He is one of five drivers for Chad Boat’s team, which also includes an entry for the first female declared as a winner of a major open wheel series when she took the DIRTCar’s Xtreme Midget Series, part of the same organization that fields the World of Outlaws.

Larson now joins Brady Bacon in a quest to be the first two-time winner of the BC39.

The race has become a staple of NASCAR’s weekend at the Brickyard and will be held midweek following this year’s Verizon 200 and IndyCar’s Gallagher Grand Prix, which marks the first time America’s top-two series will race in a doubleheader at the same track.

In its fourth running this year, the BC39 has already been won by some of the best open wheel racers with Bacon winning the inaugural race in 2018, Zeb Wise winning in 2019 and Larson winning last year. Larson also won the Stoops Pursuit race the night before the main event.

The race was not run in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2022 BC39
Buddy Kofoid finished 10th in last year’s edition of the BC39. Josh James, USAC.com

The BC39 is run in tribute to Bryan Clauson, who lost his life in a 2016 crash in the Belleville Midget Nationals.

Before then, he won 38 USAC National Midget races and 26 times in POWRI Midgets. Clauson also had 41 USAC Sprint Car wins and his combined success opened the door for three starts in IndyCar and 26 in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series.

The race holds a special place for the Clauson family. In 2016, he was one of the drivers to test this new quarter-mile track.

In addition to Larson, Veach and Briscoe, other notables entered this year are former NASCAR drivers JJ Yeley and Ryan Newman, Xfinity driver Sheldon Creed, World of Outlaws 10-time champion Donny Schatz and ARCA’s Michelle Decker.

They will need to outrun midget standouts Buddy Kofoid, Justin Grant, Tyler Courtney, the inaugural winner Bacon, Thomas Meseraull and Logan Seavey.

Some of the other female drivers entered this week include Kaylee Bryson, Taylor Reimer, Mariah Ede, and Maria Cofer.

Ford Mustang GT3 test has Austin Cindric dreaming of Daytona: ‘I want to drive that car’

Cindric Ford GT3 test
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Austin Cindric wasn’t the “mystery” test driver behind the wheel of the new Ford Mustang GT3 at Sebring International Raceway, but the Team Penske driver desperately wanted to be.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, an amateur sports car driver himself, made the big reveal via a Tuesday tweet that provided the first video evidence of the GT3 Mustang on track.

“I’ve watched the video in question about a million times,” Cindric said Wednesday during a Ford Performance Zoom news conference to promote NASCAR’s first road course weekend of the season at Circuit of the Americas. “Definitely exciting times for sure. I want to drive that car. It suits my experience level and also the relationships that I have.”

Ford will enter the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next season with its GT3 Mustang, entering a two-car factory effort (that will be managed by Multimatic) in GTD Pro and making customer cars available in the GT Daytona category.

That increases the likelihood of seeing more NASCAR drivers crossing over to IMSA. Cindric has been the only full-time Cup driver in the Rolex 24 at Daytona the past two years, but Ford Performance global director Mark Rushbrook has said the GT3 Mustang will provide more opportunities.

Ford has used its GT4 Mustang as a NASCAR driver development tool in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Harrison Burton and Zane Smith combining to win the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in January.

“We’re excited about the Next Gen car and the new architecture there and the similarities between that car and GT3 and even GT4 cars,” Rushbrook said at the announcement of the Ford GT3 program in January 2022 at Daytona. “We think it’s a great opportunity and to do be able to do that in a 24-hour race and get NASCAR drivers even more time is something we need to consider taking advantage of that opportunity.”

Given his sports car background, Cindric probably still would be in the Rolex 24 regardless. He has eight IMSA starts since the 2017 season opener at Daytona, racing a Lexus RCF GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the GT category. The 2022 Daytona 500 winner made his second LMP2 start this year with Rick Ware Racing.

But Cindric’s preference naturally would be in a Ford, particularly with sports car racing enjoying convergence and crossovers in both GT and prototype racing.

“It’s an exciting time in GT racing, just as it is now for prototype racing with a lot of new regulations and manufacturers building new GT3 cars,” he said. “And also the opportunity with WEC (the World Endurance Championship) and Le Mans and how that all lines up for that category of car. It’s definitely an exciting time. I want to be as much of a part of that as possible.”

Though those odds seemingly will increase with multiple Ford entries in the Rolex 24 field next year, Cindric said NASCAR drivers still have to put in the networking to land rides as he has in recent years.

“Now how (the GT3 Mustang) relates to specifically NASCAR drivers and how often they want to be in the Rolex, could it be an influence? Absolutely, as far as the tie-in with the manufacturer,” Cindric said. “But the challenge and the drive and the logistics of getting an opportunity for a race like the Rolex 24 will be just as challenging as it always is to find your one-off ride for the race. At least from my experience, that’s what I still anticipate.”

It turned out the “mystery” test driver wasn’t from NASCAR (Farley revealed the driver to be 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Joey Hand after a fan asked whether it was Joey Logano).

But Cindric believes there could be more Cup drivers — and perhaps himself — behind the wheel of Mustang GT3s in the future.

“There’s definitely more of a pathway than I think there would be before as far as Ford drivers are concerned,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to drive that thing. It’s obviously a great looking car. That’s the first box you’ve got to check. And it’s cool (to have) a guy like Jim Farley, no doubt he’s a racer just as much as he is steering the ship for Ford. It’s cool to see he’s just as excited as the rest of us about it.”