By Dick Jordan
This Saturday night’s AMSOIL USAC National Sprint race at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio salutes the memory of two members of the USAC Hall of Fame, the legendary Don Branson and Jud Larson, both of whom will be formally inducted May 17 during pre-race ceremonies at the USAC Hall of Fame Silver Crown event at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Ind.
Branson, USAC’s 1964 Sprint car champion, scored 13 USAC Sprint victories during his career, while Larson earned 15 USAC Sprint wins. Larson grabbed three Eldora trophies in 1964 and 1965 and Branson took one each in 1965 and 1966.
Dave Darland and Justin Grant enter the Eldora race separated by a single point in the latest AMSOIL standings. Darland’s three 2014 starts have produced a second, a third and a fourth, while Grant has a win (at Lawrenceburg April 5), a second and a sixth.
Darland, trailing Tom Bigelow by just five wins for the all-time USAC National Sprint Car victory lead, has four Eldora trophies in his case, including one in 2012.
Tracy Hines, just two wins behind Darland in the all-time list, has nine Eldora Sprint wins, which include two in 2012. Chris Windom should also be a top contender Saturday after winning last year’s “4-Crown Nationals” at Eldora.
Defending AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Champion Bryan Clauson enters the race fourth in the 2014 standings. Amazingly, he is still seeking his initial Eldora USAC Sprint win.
Saturday’s race continues a “Branson-Larson” tradition started in 1981 when Dave Peperak was the winner. Other race winners include Jack Hewitt (1982 & 1990), Rich Vogler (1983 & 1987), Steve Butler (1984), Jac Haudenschild (1985 & 1987), Rick Hood (1988), Terry Shepherd (1992), Robbie Stanley (1993), Frankie Kerr (1994 & 1996), Kevin Doty (1995 &1998), Kevin Huntley (1997), Derek Davidson (1999), Jay Drake (2000, 2004 & 2005), Tracy Hines (2001, 2008 & 2012), J.J. Yeley (2002), Boston Reid (2003), Jerry Coons Jr. (2006), Robert Ballou (2007), Jerry Coons Jr. (2009) and Robert Ballou (2010).
2014 AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Standings: 1-Dave Darland-183, 2-Justin Grant-182, 3-Chase Stockon-171, 4-Bryan Clauson-169, 5-Brady Bacon-167, 6-Jon Stanbrough-146, 7-Tracy Hines-138, 8-Chris Windom-118, 9-Robert Ballou-113, 10-Hunter Schuerenberg-108.