Fitzpatrick Wins Feature, Darland Takes KISS Championship

From Mike O’Leary, TWC Photo

June 26, 2011 – It was to be expected. The 2011 King of Indiana Sprint Series came down to the final weekend, the last two races, and wasn’t decided until the last 30-lap feature race was checkered. The feature race was dramatic at Paragon Speedway on Saturday, hugely changing the complexion of the title battle. Then, at Kokomo Speedway on Sunday, the final hands were played out. The winner was Dave Darland, one of Indiana’s most respected sprint car veterans, who is this year’s King of Indiana Sprints.

Shane Cottle took advantage of a rare opportunity to drive for Jeff Walker and scored the victory at Paragon, while young Blake Fitzpatrick showed the fast way around Kokomo Speedway, leading flag-to-flag. With finishes of second and third, Darland earned his first KISS championship, by 16 points, over Jon Stanbrough and Chris Windom.

“We thought it was going to be around the bottom and the bottom went away and the top came in and we got up there before somebody got past us and that was the key to the whole situation,” Cottle said after his victory lane celebration. He had only driven once before for Walker, as a last minute replacement when Ricky Stenhouse was injured, for a single race. This was one neither will forget anytime soon, Cottle admitted, “You’ve got Jeff Walker hiring you to do it. You know his track record, somebody’s always going to win in it, so you’re pressured to win. He gave us a good car tonight.”

Chris Windom led early, from the pole, running the bottom, while Cottle, Darland and Stanbrough barked at his tail. Darland moved to the top and tried Cottle in turn three on the third circuit, but the caution flew, slowing the field. When they restarted, Cottle quickly went to the top and charged past Windom going into turn three on the next lap. Darland also got past Windom before he, too, moved up to the top groove, which had begun to take rubber and became very fast.

After racing most of the next 20 laps dodging through traffic, Windom tried a slide job on Darland on lap 23. He said later that Darland hadn’t gone into turn three as quickly as he anticipated and he had to change his line slightly and just got in too hard. In any event, as they came through turn four, Windom got crossed up right as he slid in front of Darland, and they made contact. For a second, the track was blocked with both cars sideways, fighting for their tires to bite. It was at this time that Stanbrough arrived, with a full head of steam, and turning his car as much as he could to avoid a direct hit, he plowed into both machines. This turned Darland’s to continue down the straightaway, but both Windom and Stanbrough were stopped in the turn.

While Cottle charged brilliantly to the victory in the Jam-It-In Storage Maxim, Stanbrough and Windom fought their way from the tail of the field to ninth and tenth at the finish. The impact on the points was dramatic. Stanbrough held a 25-point lead over Brady Short coming into the race, and 37 over Darland. Short had decided to skip the last weekend to be with his wife, who had just delivered a new baby. But Darland had closed the gap to a narrow two point margin with just one race remaining.

Once the track took rubber like it did, it was hard to pass under conditions like that,” Darland said. “We were lucky to get into second before the track got one-lane. We’re pretty happy with the second place and it will help us in the KISS points. The car was good, we just didn’t set up for the rubber like it went, we set up for the slick, especially there late. The tire got bald and the car just got super tight.”

Blake Fitzpatrick started Sunday’s feature, at Kokomo Speedway, from outside the front row, and quickly charged into the lead. It is easy to note that he led every lap, and wasn’t really challenged. But he tells the story differently.

The young driver from West Terre Haute said that it was a much needed win for his First Financial Spike machine. “To be up front with the guys that we’re running with and finally pick up a win this year is really good. We lost brakes there two laps into the feature and just kind of rode around. On the last yellow I was able to put a few laps together to get ahead of Windom. I knew he was coming.”

He noted that with a nearly round shape, the Kokomo track allows a driver to carry a lot of speed, but it also has a good cushion. “You can really lean on it and depend on it. I really used that to my advantage, with no brakes.”

Starting side-by-side with Stanbrough, Darland held third early, before taking second from Tracy Hines on lap 3. While Fitzpatrick built a full straightaway lead, Windom was scrapping his way to the front. On the ninth circuit, Darland caught the cushion in turn four and biked-up on two wheels and Windom grabbed second. At the finish, Fitzpatrick had a half-straightaway lead over Windom, while Darland held off Keith Bloom for third.

“He started on the front row and we started fifth,” Windom said later. “He had a good car, probably a little better than us. We caught him about halfway through the race and we hung with him, we just didn’t have enough to get around him.”

After the victory photos and celebration, Darland talked about being the new King of Indiana. “Me and my team are really proud of it. Daryl (Tate) hasn’t won the championship before either and he’s been sprint car mechanic and owner for years and they have given me a good race car day in and day out. All of us are pretty happy about this championship.”

The veteran from Lincoln, Indiana, explained that in the past he had always been committed to competing in USAC events and hadn’t been able to run all of the KISS races in any season. This had been his first chance, and it paid dividends.


King of Indiana Sprint Series, Round 5

Paragon Speedway, June 25, 2011

Heat 1 (10 laps): 1. Chris Windom 5 (5); 2. Ty Deckard 48 (1); 3. Matt Mitchell 2x (3); 4. Robert Ballou 81 (9); 5. Kyle Cummins 3c (8); 6. Tony Reed 8 (7); 7. Ryan Tusing 16 (6); 8. Kyle Wissmiller 29 (4) ; 9. Adam Beliles 66 (2);

Heat 2 (10 laps): 1. Shane Cottle 11 (8); 2. Bub Cummings 71 (4); 3. Aric Gentry 10 (3); 4. Rob Botts 33b (5); 5. Cody Gentry 2x (7); 6. Buddy Lowther 31 (9); 7. Doug Heck 55 (6); 8. Dale Dillon 36l (2); 9. Kerry Kinser 99 (1)

Heat 3 (10 laps): 1. Jon Stanbrough 53 (3); 2. Jared Harris 81h (1); 3. Chase Briscoe 5b (5); 4. Josh Cunningham 6s (7); 5. Jake Scott 22 (2); 6. Mark Perry 3m (4); 7. Randy Johnson 48j (9); 8. Warren Perkins 30 (6); Wesley Hickman 23 DNS

Heat 4 (10 laps): 1. Dave Darland 21x (1); 2. Jeff Miller 33m (3); 3. Eric Edwards 44 (4); 4. Nick Johnson 15j (8); 5. Joe Liguori 6rr (6); 6. Drew Tarr 3x (2); 7. A.J. Francis 21f (7); 8. Johnny Johnson 72 (5)

B Main (12 laps): 1. Cummins (1); 2. Heck (10)l 3, Reed (5); 4. Liguori (4); 5. Perry (7); 6. Kinser (18); 7. R. Johnson (11); 8. Francis (12); 9. Perkins (15); 10. Tarr (8); 11. J. Johnson (14); 12. Tusing (9); 13. Scott (3); 14. Wissmiller (13); 15. C. Gentry (2); 16. Lowther 6)

Feature (30 laps): 1. Shane Cottle (3); 2. Dave Darland (5); 3. Bub Cummings (2); 4. Robert Ballou (13); 5. Ty Deckard (8); 6. Jeff Miller (4); 7. A. Gentry (10); 8. Doug Heck (18); 9. Chris Windom (1); 10. Jon Stanbrough (6); 11. Eric Edwards (12); 12. Jared Harris (7); 13. Joe Liguori (20); 14. Tony Reed (19); 15. Rob Botts (14); 16. Nick Johnson (16); 17. Josh Cunningham (15); 18. Chase Briscoe (11); 19. Kyle Cummins (17); 20. Matt Mitchell (9)

King of Indiana Sprint Series, Round 6

Kokomo Speedway, June 26, 2011

Heat 1 (10 laps): 1. Chris Windom 5 (4); 2. Jon Stanbrough 53 (3); 3. Hunter Schuerenberg 2e (5); 4. J.R. Douglas 09 (1); 5. Shane Cottle 10e (6); 6. Andrew Elson 27a (9); 7. Kyle Robbins 17r (2); 8. Seth Parker 38p (7); 9. Jake Blackhurst 7 (8)

Heat 2 (10 laps): 1. Tracy Hines 24 (2); 2. Dave Darland 21x (4); 3. Daron Clayton 69 (3); 4. Robert Ballou 81 (5); 5. Chad Boespflug 98 (7); 6. Josh Spencer 66j (1); 7. Wes McIntyre 83 (9); 8. Conner Donelson 42 (6); Logan Jarrett 29 DNS

Heat 3 (10 laps): 1. Keith Bloom Jr. 27 (2); 2. Blake Fitzpatrick 10 (4); 3. Thomas Meseraull 57 (6); 4. Matt Mitchell 2 (1); 5. Justin Grant 40 (3); 6. Kyle Larson 11 (8); 7. Jamie Fredrickson 58 (5)

B Main (12 laps): 1. Elson (1); 2. McIntyre (5); 3. Larson (3); 4. Parker (7); 5. Fredrickson (6); 6. Donelson (8); 7. Spencer (2); 8. Blackhurst (10); 9. Robbins (4)

Feature (30 laps): 1. Blake Fitzpatrick (2); 2. Chris Windom (5); 3. Dave Darland (4); 4. Keith Bloom Jr. (6); 5. Daron Clayton (8); 6. Robert Ballou (11); 7. Jon Stanbrough (3); 8. Kyle Larson (18); 9. Shane Cottle (13); 10. Tracy Hines (1); 11. Chad Boespflug (14); 12. Thomas Meseraull (9); 13. Andrew Elson (16); 14. Matt Mitchell (12); 15. Justin Grant (15); 16. Wes McIntyre (17); 17. J.R. Douglas (10); 18. Hunter Schuerenberg (7); 19. Jamie Fredrickson (20); 20. Seth Parker (19)

Final KISS Points: 1. Dave Darland 703, 2. Jon Stanbrough 687, 3. Chris Windom 668, 4. Robert Ballou 633, 5. Shane Cottle 526, 6. Keith Bloom Jr. 467, 7. Chad Boesplfug 441, 8. Daron Clayton 390, 9. Blake Fitzpatrick, 10. Anderw Elson (382)

The King of Indiana Sprint Series is organized and conducted by the individual Indiana sprint car race track promoters to provide the best sprint car racing. Many thanks to the series sponsors, including Sprint Car & Midget Magazine, Simpson Performance Products and Van Horn Tint & Accessories for the KISS champion’s helmet, Elliottbrand Web Designs, in Westport, IN, and Kiva Networking in Bloomington for the KISS website (

May 6 Bloomington Speedway Brady Short
May 13 Gas City I-69 Speedway Rain
May 21 Lawrenceburg Speedway Daron Clayton
June 19 Tri-State Speedway Rain
June 25 Paragon Speedway Shane Cottle
June 26 Kokomo Speedway Blake Fitzpatrick

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