KOKOMO, Ind. – official release — John Mahoney photo — Dave Darland didn’t waste any time breaking the tie atop the all-time AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series win list.
Darland backed up his win on Saturday that matched him with Tom Bigelow at 52 wins with the record-breaker in Sunday’s Stoops Freightliner – Quality Trailer Sprint Car Smackdown III at Kokomo Speedway. The Lincoln, Ind., native put himself alone on top of the mountain with 53 victories at his home track in front of frenzied fans.
“Fifty-three feels great. Breaking Tom’s record is special enough, but to do it here with my family and so many friends and fans at Kokomo Speedway, it just couldn’t be better. This place has been really good to me, and it’s nice to get it done. There’s a lot of attention that comes with the chase, so it’s a bit of a relief. We’ve got a lot of races left this season, and it’s off my mind now,” Darland said.
Brady Bacon, who earlier beat out Darland in the B&W Auto Mart King of the Hill finals to earn the pole as they made up the Factory Kahne Front Row, took the early lead in the 40-lapper. The track was heavy early in the going, but Darland finally carved in a higher line as the track widened out, and he came calling for the lead five laps in. He roared by on the outside to complete lap-six with a lead he would never relinquish.
Only three cautions slowed the pace, with the second coming just past the halfway mark. From there, Robert Ballou came after Bacon and Jon Stanbrough in a torrid battle for the second spot. C.J. Leary also poked his nose as he entered the top-five from 12th.
Darland entered traffic for the second time with just a handful of laps remaining, and Ballou had cleared the runner-up battle to chop Darland’s lead down with five laps to go. Ballou was closing on Darland as they approached a bunch of lapped cars with less than three laps left, but Leary’s night came to an end with a flat right-rear tire, and he stopped in turn-four.
On the restart, Darland stayed on the top as Ballou, who was missing a right-rear wheel cover, tried the bottom and pulled up alongside Darland through the first set of corners. Darland kept his momentum up and rolled the final two laps without a misstep as Ballou tried valiantly to keep up on the cushion. It was Darland finishing the job, however, and bringing home the sixth win of the season for the Phillips Motorsports – Racer’s Advantage Store No. 71p DRC/Foxco while yet again taking over the point lead.
“I actually was happy to be in traffic because they were mostly blocking the bottom for me. There late in the race, I had all kinds of cars underneath me and made me feel a little better, so I hated to see that last caution. Usually, I would be the other way around. Luckily, we got a good restart and I was able to get my momentum up to get those last three laps over,” Darland said.
Ballou finished out a weekend where he never left the podium, improving by one spot to come home a close second in the Deaton’s Waterfront Services – Don Ott Engines No. 12x Maxim/Ott.
“We’ve had a great weekend and we ended up running second to the best guy in the business at his home track where he never makes mistakes. We’ve had a great stretch and finished strong this weekend. We just needed to keep a mud cover on it to the end and we may have had a better chance, but our best bet was probably to stay in traffic to the end,” Ballou said.
Bryan Clauson made a late charge on the bottom to round out the podium in the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing – Chevy Performance No. 20 Beast/Kistler.
“I’d say we probably needed the race to be a little longer to have a shot, but a hundred laps might not have been enough to beat Dave. We were just a tick off there, but we kept digging all weekend and got all we could, so we focus our attention on defending our championship down the stretch and try to give Dave and Brady all they can handle,” Clauson said.
Bacon held on for fourth in the Hoffman Auto Racing – Mean Green No. 69 Triple X/Williams Mopar, and Stanbrough rounded out the top-five in the Indiana Underground Construction – Griffin’s Propane No. 37RW Maxim/Fisher.
RESULTS: AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Championship; August 24, 2014; Kokomo, Ind.; Kokomo Speedway; Stoops Freightliner “Sprint Car Smackdown III”
FEATURE: (40 laps) 1. Dave Darland, 2. Robert Ballou, 3. Bryan Clauson, 4. Brady Bacon, 5. Jon Stanbrough, 6. Justin Grant, 7. Shane Cottle, 8. Kevin Thomas Jr., 9. Chase Stockon, 10. Kyle Cummins, 11. Logan Jarrett, 12. Chad Boespflug, 13. Brady Short, 14. Tracy Hines, 15. Max McGhee, 16. Josh Spencer, 17. Brian Karraker, 18. C.J. Leary, 19. Casey Shuman, 20. Landon Simon, 21. Jerry Coons Jr., 22. Tyler Courtney, 23. Chris Windom. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-5 Bacon, Laps 6-40 Darland.