INDIANAPOLIS — All-time series wins leader Dave Darland will take over the reins of the Michael Dutcher Motorsports No. 17GP this weekend for an Indiana doubleheader with the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship on Sept. 15-16.
The two-day weekend will see the series invade Terre Haute Action Track on Friday and Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt on Saturday.
Darland has yet to compete for Dutcher’s team in USAC competition this season, instead driving much of the year aboard the Phillips Motorsports No. 71p, and most recently in the No. 40 for Mark Hery.
However, Darland has had success with Dutcher during the year in local Indiana sprint car action, capturing a victory last Saturday night at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.
Darland also made three starts in Dutcher’s Silver Crown car in 2016, finishing in the top-10 twice, including at Terre Haute.
The long-time veteran will be the fifth driver to wheel Dutcher’s sprinter in USAC competition this season, following Jeff Bland, Jr., Stevie Sussex, Ryan Bernal and Tyler Thomas, who came within a lap of scoring a huge victory in August’s Sprint Car Smackdown VI at Kokomo Speedway.
Dutcher’s cars have won at both Terre Haute and Tri-State Speedway with USAC. In 2013, Kevin Thomas, Jr. drove Dutcher’s ride to a pair of Tri-State victories and a Terre Haute win during Indiana Sprint Week where, ironically, it was Darland who Thomas had to hold off in the final laps.
The pairing of Darland and Dutcher could be a boon for both sides, as the duo aims for their first Hurtubise Classic win. Darland remains in search of his first USAC National victory of the year, a streak he has kept intact since 1993.
Meanwhile Dutcher, the 2012 USAC Mechanical Achievement Award winner, hasn’t scored a USAC National Sprint Car win since February of 2015 at Florida’s East Bay Raceway Park with Kevin Thomas Jr., a span of 102 races.
Darland has won five times at Terre Haute: twice in sprints, once in Silver Crown and twice in midgets. However, Tri-State hasn’t been as kind to Darland, marking one of the few places he has yet to reach victory lane.
Of note, Saturday night’s Haubstadt Hustler pays $12,500-to-win and is co-sanctioned by the Midwest Sprint Car Series.
CREDIT: USAC Media