INDIANAPOLIS — Frank Manafort Racing has hired open-wheel racing standout C.J. Leary to drive its familiar No. 76 midget in the NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series next season. Team manager Brad Noffsinger broke the news to SPEED SPORT Saturday morning during the PRI Trade Show at the Indiana Convention Center. Brady Bacon will drive the team’s car during the Chili Bowl and Leary will take over the ride beginning with Florida Speedweeks at Bubba Raceway Park. With veteran crew chief Bob East and support from Toyota, the team will be among the contenders for the series championship. Noffsinger has been impressed with Leary’s efforts in sprint car and Silver Crown competition in recent years. “I’ve been watching him for a few years,” the former CRA sprint car champion said. “He is young and eager and there is nothing tying him down. We know he can get the job done. The Silver Crown race at Eldora (during the 4-Crown Nationals) showed that. He did a heck of a job there.” Brady Bacon, who has driven for Manafort for the past three seasons, will take a step back from full-time midget competition next year. However, he will still compete as a teammate to Leary in 10-12 USAC races in 2019.