By Dick Jordan
The AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Cars are slated for competition this weekend at Pontoon Beach, Ill. and Terre Haute, Ind. and drivers Dave Darland and Jon Stanbrough have sights set on overhauling defending five-time series champion Levi Jones as the season enters its final three months.
Saturday’s “Jim Hurtubise Classic” at Terre Haute continues a tradition of racing at the Indiana half-mile which spans 56 years and 227 races for the Sprints, producing 66 different race winners.
Darland is the only driver who can claim victories at Terre Haute in all three of USAC’s National racing series, Silver Crown, Sprints and Midgets. Stanbrough has five Sprint wins there and Jones has five in Sprints and two in Silver Crown.
Hurtubise, whose legend is nationwide, accomplished something no other driver ever did, winning five consecutive USAC Sprint races at Terre Haute between 1960 and 1962. Bubby Jones came close, winning four in a row in 1979, and Roger McCluskey, Gary Bettenhausen and Levi Jones all put three in a row together but Hurtubise, who was never able to claim a USAC title, stands alone.
Hurtubise, who failed to crack the “top-10” despite 10 starts in the Indianapolis 500, earned 18 USAC Sprint car wins during his career and is remembered for his spectacular “rookie” qualifying run at Indy in 1960 when he became the first driver to flirt with the magic 150-mph mark at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He passed away in 1989.
Darland has charged into title contention with five victories in his last 17 Sprint starts. He is tied with Tracy Hines at 81 as the active leaders on USAC’s all-time National feature victory list. Stanbrough has only missed the “top-10” five times in his 29 starts this season but three of those came in last week’s “Smackdown” at Kokomo, Ind. He hopes to rebound with good finishes this week.
Fifteen races remain in the 2012 AMSOIL National Sprint series, which concludes in November at Perris, Calif.
Terre Haute USAC Sprint winners expected to compete Sunday in addition to those already mentioned are Chris Windom, Daron Clayton, Jerry Coons Jr. and Tracy Hines.
2012 AMSOIL USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR POINTS
1-Levi Jones-1,615, 2-Jon Stanbrough-1,589, 3-Dave Darland-1,577, 4-Bryan Clauson-1,487, 5-Tracy Hines-1,370, 6-Damion Gardner-1,350, 7-Hunter Schuerenberg-1,242, 8-Chase Stockon-1,235, 9-Robert Ballou-1,230, 10-Kevin Thomas Jr.-1,216.