Gas City, IN — (July 9, 2011) — The importance of getting off to a good start on Indiana Sprint Week was evident last night at Gas City I-69 Speedway. Dave Darland and his team led by Darrell Tate rolled off their second win in a row on Friday and notching Darland’s 76th National win in the process. After qualifying tenth the intense racing chewed up and spit out several of the top six qualifiers, elevating him to outside of the front row for the feature event. Darland ran his line to perfection with Chris Windom right on his back bumper to the very popular victory to kick off sprint week.
Momentum is a key factor during long stretches of racing like Sprintweek for driver and crew morale. Darland is fresh off of winning the KISS championship and two straight features, and would be a safe pick to visit victory lane again during sprint week. The win was celebrated by the team and several members of the Darland family including his mother.
Wes McIntyre played the underdog role to perfection and delight of the sellout crowd at Gas City on Friday. McIntyre won the Last Chance Qualification race after timing in 34th during qualifications. McIntyre’s reward for winning the event was an immediate turn around into the first heat race with no break. McIntyre promptly jumped up to the cushion, sometimes all four wheels over it, riding the rim to the fourth and final transfer spot. McIntyre finished 17th in the feature event.
Heat race action lived up to the high expectations for Indiana Sprintweek with no holds bared intensity for every transfer position in the four heat race events. There are not words to accurately describe the intensity and action that occurred for positions three through the back of the field in each and every heat race event.
The first heat saw an intense battle to directly transfer to the feature that culminated in a three wide dash to the finish for the final transfer spot. Tracy Hines ended up getting crossed up and opened the top lane for McIntyre’s exciting run from the LCQ to the final transfer spot.
The second heat race saw fireworks when Levi Jones and Ted Hines made contact, sending Hines out of a transfer spot. Hines was able to climb back up to within inches of Jones back bumper coming to the checkered, but was unable to reclaim the final transfer spot. Hines was visibly unhappy about the outcome and made it known with Jones and Hines jockeying for position while pulling off the race track.
Bobby East rode out several near bicycles to hold the final transfer spot until the end of the third heat race, relinquishing the position to Jonathan Hendrick.
The fourth heat race saw Bryan Clauson thwart Shuman’s effort to climb from the LCQ to a direct transfer to the feature via the heat race by taking the final transfer spot.
Shane Cottle made one of the biggest moves in the feature from 14th up to fifth place in the Jeff Walker car. Cottle seemed very relaxed just before the heat races relaxing on a tire while talking about his change from his long time ride in Monte Edison’s car. Walker and Cottle started discussing getting together and already have a win under their belt. Walker and Cottled walked the track during the final rework alone, and came up with a setup to advance through the field.
On the other end of the spectrum Damion Gardner and Hunter Schuerenberg did not get off to the starts they were looking for on Sprint Week. Both of their qualification times religated them to the last chance qualifier race. Although both cars transferred from the LCQ, Gardner was caught up in a heat race incident that forces the Pace Electronics crew to change a rear end. Gardner skipped the B-Main and took a provisional to start the feature. Schuerenberg did start the B-Main, but went pitside to also use a provisional to start the feature.
Dustin Morgan returned to non-wing action for Sprint Week. Morgan’s crew indicated picking and choosing events was still the plan for this season, deciding to forego the ASCS National Tour trip out west for Indiana Sprintweek. Morgan ended up getting tangled up in a crash in the B-Main and retired with front end damage.
Brett Burdett had two eventful qualification laps that relegated him to the last chance qualifier. Burdette ended up upside down during the LCQ, but was able to restart but just fell short of a transfer position.
The Semi-Feature lived up to its “dreaded B-Main” moniker with no less than four attempts to get the initial start underway and several caution flags. The eventful semi-feature was topped off when Casey Shuman drove in attempting to get the final transfer spot going into turns three and four and when everyone ran out of room Jason Robbins and Casey Riggs, who was in a transfer spot, were sitting backwards while Chris Gurley motored from nowhere into a transfer spot.
When Gurley was asked about what was going through his mind when all of the cars spun in front of him, he responded by slamming his right foot down on the trailer, exaggerating about how many RPM’s the engine was turning, full throttle full the gas to the finish line. Gurley eventually dropped out of the B-Main.
Shuman arrived with a brand new race car, no lettering, pulling the car himself to the race track. Upon unloading the car on his own Shuman indicated the car was just finished that morning and did not have a chance to test fire the car before bringing it to the race track. To keep things simple Shuman carried the letter “X” on his tail tank for Gas City.
The Daron Clayton/Hoffman Auto Racing combination has running better of late after a string a local shows that were used to tune their combination. Crew chief Rob Hoffman indicated that after some shock changes and trademark cutting on the car that their baseline setup was comfortable for driver and crew. Unforeseen problems crept up for the Mean Green sponsored team though when the engine was starved of fuel during the heat race, prompting a trash to change the tail tank and trouble shoot the fuel system. Clayton transferred from the semi-feature and finished 9th in the A-Main. The Hoffman crew had their car stripped down in the hotel parking lot on Saturday morning to make sure the problem would not return.
In what has become the norm Gas City featured another overflow crowd for Indiana Sprintweek. Jiggs Thomason and his crew dug up the track and watered the track just before the last chance qualification race and the feature event. The track prep before the feature combined with the thunder cars that chewed up the racing surface du