USAC Sprints: Darland Grabs 50th Career Win on Historic Night at Terre Haute

RaceChaser Staff Featured, Midwest, Other Sprint Cars, Sprints & Midgets, USAC 0 Comments

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — It was another night of historical importance on the AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship tour at the Terre Haute Action Track as 47-year-old Dave Darland won his 50th career race with the series at the same place where he won his first.

The man closing in on the all-time win record took his first victory in the 1993 Tony Hulman Classic and made it his second score in the legendary race on Wednesday night.

Kevin Thomas Jr. started from the pole and beat Darland to the lead, jumping to the top as those two raced away from the rest of the field. Tracy Hines slowed the early pace as he slowed in turn-four with ten laps complete, just after the leaders had encountered traffic.

From there, Darland stalked Thomas as they opened up ground on the rest of the field. Darland got enough of a run on lap 17 to attempt a slide-job into turn-three, but he couldn’t get past the Cullman, Ala., driver. Shortly after, they entered traffic again, and this time Darland caught a break. As they completed lap 21, Thomas dropped low just as the slower car in front of him did the same, leaving the high side open for Darland to circle him with the lead.

After a quick yellow, Darland drove away from the field as Thomas tried to hold back Jon Stanbrough and Brady Bacon. Stanbrough tried to slide past Thomas for second, but he couldn’t complete the pass, which allowed Bacon to pounce for third.

Another late caution gave Thomas one last chance, and he tried a last-ditch effort into one on the restart that didn’t stick. Darland’s third win of the year in the Phillips Motorsports — Racer’s Advantage Store No. 71p DRC/Foxco puts him just two behind all-time wins leader Tom Bigelow.

Although there were a handful of cautions in the closing laps, including a critical restart after Carson Short blew a tire on the backstretch with four laps remaining, Darland was in command and took the checkers a straightaway ahead of Thomas.

In his hauler, Thomas donned a ballcap as he allowed that he was very disappointed.

“It’s unfortunate to lose a race over lapped traffic, but 90% of the time that’s the way it goes. I mean, we got a little snookered there, Dave outsmarted us like he usually does. It sucks to run second, but then again it’s also good to run like that with these boys. Whenever it’s up on the cushion like that, Dave is hard to beat, whether it’s half mile, quarter mile, it doesn’t matter.”

Darland explained that running second in lapped traffic can sometimes be an advantage and other times doesn’t benefit at all. Tonight, he was glad that it worked out.

“Thomas went to slide or run the bottom on a lapped car and then the lapped car, seeing the “lay over” flag, went to the bottom, too, right in front of him. It was just unfortunate for him that that situation happened. Everybody did what they were supposed to do, kind of.”

Bacon made a run at Thomas for second in the closing lap but had to settle for third in the Hoffman Auto Racing – Mean Green #69 Triple X/Williams. However, he did put his name on the all-time Track Record around the storied half-mile after clocking a lap of 19.225 seconds.

“The Hoffmans like track records, but they like wins more. Tonight got pretty good in the feature, but it was still so fast around the top that it made passing difficult. It’s cool to have this track record, and hopefully it stays for a while. We have a lot of momentum right now, so we’ll try to take that to Pennsylvania and get a couple wins,” Bacon said.

Stanbrough came home fourth in the Michael Dutcher Motorsports – MP Environmental Services #37RW Maxim/Fisher, and Chase Stockon rounded out the top-five in the Superior Tank & Trailer – Crescent Electric Supply #32 DRC/Fisher.


RESULTS: AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series; May 21, 2014; Terre Haute Action Track; “Tony Hulman Classic”

FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Dave Darland, 2. Kevin Thomas Jr., 3. Brady Bacon, 4. Jon Stanbrough, 5. Chase Stockon, 6. Chris Windom, 7. Robert Ballou, 8. Tracy Hines, 9. Shane Cottle, 10. Bryan Clauson, 11. C.J. Leary, 12. Daron Clayton, 13. Hunter Schuerenberg, 14. Shane Cockrum, 15. Jarett Andretti, 16. Aaron Farney, 17. Carson Short, 18. Chris Gurley, 19. Brandon Mattox, 20. Justin Grant, 21. Mitch Wissmiller, 22. Mark Smith, 23. Jerry Coons Jr.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-21 Thomas, Laps 22-30 Darland.

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