By Dick Jordan
Perris, California…….Dave Darland of Lincoln, Indiana made himself a three-time winner of the Budweiser “Oval Nationals” presented by All Coast Construction after a wire-to-wire win in Saturday’s $15,000-to-win 40-lapper. It didn’t come easily, though, as Darland’s nemesis over the last two seasons, Bryan Clauson, came on strong in the closing laps and pushed the 47-year old all the way to the line.
Darland grabbed the lead from outside the front-row in a race with four cautions and set a torrid pace that saw little movement among the top six cars throughout the race. Darland’s lead grew as he reached lapped traffic, and it wasn’t until lap 30 that Clauson finally moved into second with a lot of race track between he and the leader.
A red flag for ninth-running Justin Grant put Clauson on Darland’s tail tank with eight laps to go, and Clauson immediately pressured him for the point. The two banged wheels in turn-two as Darland got back to the throttle to hold the lead down the backstretch. Just as Clauson was mounting his final charge, the caution appeared for Nic Faas with two laps to go.
Darland nailed the restart and narrowly held off Clauson to the tune of .106-seconds in the Phillips Motorsports – Racers’ Advantage #71P DRC/Foxco.
“He has been all over us all year, from the first race of the year when he beat me right at the end in Florida. I was thinking it was more of the same when I saw his nose come in under me. Just had to find a way to fight him off and get that race over with as quick as we could. It’s been a great year with my car owners, Steve and Carla Phillips, and I’m glad we could end it this way, winning a big money race at the Oval Nationals. We came up a little short in the championship, but I’m proud of what we did this season,” said Darland, who made it seven wins for 2013 to run his career total to 47 wins, second all-time and just five behind the National Sprint Car wins leader Tom Bigelow.
Clauson was obviously dejected after the race, coming up short on his eighth win of the year but wrapping up a strong championship season in the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing – Chevy Performance #20 Beast/Kistler.
“I got inside of him once there and he held me off. I really hated to see that last yellow. I would have liked to see how we ended up once we got to turn-three, but it wasn’t to be. It was still a phenomenal year for our team – we basically started from scratch with Brad Mariscotti and added Bob East as the crew chief, new chassis, new shocks, new everything. There were growing pains but we found our groove midway through and really became the car to beat late in the season. I really wanted that one last win to close it, but I’m pretty happy to be able to go back-to-back as a driver and get this championship with my new team at TSR,” Clauson said.
Defending race winner Mike Spencer held second for most of the race before finishing third in the Madera Produce – Grubstake Mini Storage #50 Maxim/Shaver. Chase Stockon took his third-straight top-five finish in fourth aboard the Superior Tank & Trailer – Crescent Electric Supply #32 DRC/Fisher, and Brady Bacon rounded out the top-five in the Hoffman Auto Racing – Mean Green #69 Triple X/Stanton Mopar.
AMSOIL USAC SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: November 2, 2013 – Perris, California – Perris Auto Speedway – 18th Annual Budweiser “Oval Nationals” presented by All Coast Construction
QUALIFYING: 1. Tracy Hines, 4, Hines-16.483; 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 17RW, Dutcher/RW/TriStar-16.623; 3. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-16.708; 4. Brody Roa, 91, Roa-16.753; 5. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-16.761; 6. Chris Windom, 11, Walker-16.763; 7. Justin Grant, 5, Baldwin-16.806; 8. Danny Faria, Jr., 17v, Faria-16.832; 9. Richard Vander Weerd, 10, Vander Weerd-16.861; 10. Jon Stanbrough, 73, Ford-16.865; 11. Cody Williams, 44, Jory-16.868; 12. Nick Drake, 55, Cline-16.882; 13. John Aden, 7A, Aden-16.919; 14. R.J. Johnson, 51, Martin-16.924; 15. Damion Gardner, 4A, Alexander-16.936; 16. Jake Swanson, 14, Springstead-16.960; 17. Matt Mitchell, 37, Mitchell-16.962; 18. Cory Kruseman, 7, Priestley-16.969; 19. Austin Williams, 2, Jory-16.999; 20. David Bezio, 37x, Bezio-17.025; 21. Ryan Bernal, 73x, Ford-17.038; 22. Bud Kaeding, 29, BZE-17.092; 23. Johnny Bluntach, 58, Bluntach-17.103; 24. Cody Swanson, 14J, Springstead-17.118; 25. D.J. Johnson, 33, Johnson-17.160; 26. Greg Alexander, 72, Tyler-17.179; 27. Ronnie Gardner, 93, Gardner-17.201; 28. Tyler Courtney, 23c, Courtney/BRaT-17.206; 29. Charles Davis, Jr., 4G, Cook-17.209; 30. Bruce St. James, 7K, St. James-17.238; 31. Billy Blinn, 26, Blinn-17.264; 32. A.J. Bender, 21, Bender-17.277; 33. Jace Vander Weerd, 88, Vander Weerd-17.298; 34. Wes McIntyre, 21B, Duinkerken-17.324; 35. Verne Sweeney, 98, Tracy-17.354; 36. Markus Niemela, 81, Watt-17.357; 37. Seth Wilson, 1, Wilson-17.369; 38. Kenny Perkins, 0, Perkins-17.397; 39. Landon Hurst, 179, Hurst-17.401; 40. Austin Stone, 29x, Coffman-17.412; 41. Andrew Reinbold, 19, Underwood-17.461; 42. Johnathon Henry, 39, Smith-17.681; 43. Trent Williams, 52, Williams-17.800; 44. Chris Gansen, 4c, Gansen-17.968; 45. David Cardey, 92, Sertich-NT (time of 17.213 disallowed);
FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. R. Vander Weerd, 2. Ballou, 3. Hines, 4. Bernal, 5. Mitchell, 6. D.J. Johnson, 7. Davis, 8. Aden. 2:51.88
SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Stanbrough, 2. R.J. Johnson, 3. Thomas, 4. Windom, 5. Kruseman, 6. Kaeding, 7. Alexander, 8. St. James. 2:51.67
THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. D. Gardner, 2. Grant, 3. Leary, 4. A. Williams, 5. C. Williams, 6. R. Gardner, 7. Bluntach, 8. Blinn. 2:46.58
FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. J. Swanson, 2. Roa, 3. Drake, 4. Bender, 5. C. Swanson, 6. Bezio, 7. Faria, 8. Courtney. NT
DASH: (10 laps) 1. Mike Spencer (50, Chaffin), 2. Dave Darland (71P, Phillips), 3. Bryan Clauson (20, Stewart/Curb-Agajanian), 4. Nic Faas (4x, Alexander), 5. Brady Bacon (69, Dynamics), 6. Chase Stockon (32, 32/TBI). NT
B MAIN #1: (12 laps) 1. Hines, 2. Mitchell, 3. Kaeding, 4. R. Gardner, 5. Cardey, 6. Bernal, 7. Niemela, 8. Drake, 9. J. Vander Weerd, 10. Perkins, 11. Alexander, 12. T. Williams, 13. Blinn, 14. Stone, 15. St. James, 16. Hurst. 3:29.20
B MAIN #2: (12 laps) 1. Thomas, 2. Leary, 3. Windom, 4. Kruseman, 5. C. Williams, 6. A. Williams, 7. Sweeney, 8. Davis, 9. Bender, 10. McIntyre, 11. Wilson, 12. Reinbold, 13. Henry, 14. Bluntach, 15. Gansen. NT
FEATURE: (40 laps) 1. Dave Darland, 2. Bryan Clauson, 3. Mike Spencer, 4. Chase Stockon, 5. Brady Bacon, 6. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 7. Damion Gardner, 8. Chris Windom, 9. Jon Stanbrough, 10. Tracy Hines, 11. Cory Kruseman, 12. Austin Williams, 13. Richard Vander Weerd, 14. C.J. Leary, 15. Brody Roa, 16. Bud Kaeding, 17. Nic Faas, 18. Matt Mitchell, 19. Robert Ballou, 20. R.J. Johnson, 21. Jace Vander Weerd, 22. David Cardey, 23. Cody Williams, 24. Justin Grant, 25. Ronnie Gardner, 26. Nick Drake, 27. Jake Swanson. NT
**Bezio flipped in Heat 4. D.J. Johnson flipped in B Main #2. Grant flipped on lap 33 of the Feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-40 Darland.
FINAL AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Clauson-1,948; 2-Darland-1,885; 3-Bacon-1,770; 4-Stockon-1,698; 5-Thomas-1,657; 6-Hines-1,538; 7-Ballou-1,449; 8-Windom-1,217; 9-Courtney-1,029; 10-Hunter Schuerenberg-1,000.