By Dick Jordan
Dave Darland leads the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Cars to a pair of Indiana ovals this weekend, topping the 2014 series standings after his first National victory of the season. Friday night’s race is at the Gas City I-69 Speedway, while Saturday’s “Spring Showdown” race, co-sanctioned by MSCS, is at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt.
Darland broke the all-time USAC record for consecutive years with at least one National victory in each of the last 22 years by taking Saturday night’s “Don Branson-Jud Larson Classic” at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. His win eclipsed the previous record he shared with A.J. Foyt and Mel Kenyon, each of whom also recorded USAC National feature wins in 21 consecutive years.
Darland dueled with Chase Stockon, trading the lead back and forth before finally taking command on lap 12. He then paced the final 19 laps in his Racers Advantage Store/Frank Daigh DRC/Foxco Chevy. Stockon took second ahead of Tracy Hines, Jerry Coons Jr. and ProSource fast qualifier Brady Bacon. The win was the first at Eldora for Darland’s car owners Steve and Carla Phillips, while it was Dave’s 14th at Eldora in various series.
The win was Darland’s 48th in USAC National Sprint competition, leaving him just four short of Tom Bigelow’s all-time leading total of 52.
Hines, who has 45 career National Sprint wins, competed in his 998th USAC National feature event at Eldora, with his 1,000th now possibly targeted for Saturday night’s event at Haubstadt. He would become only the second driver in USAC history to reach that lofty total, matching the achievement Darland reached earlier this year.
Kevin Thomas Jr. won both Haubstadt races last year and one at Gas City. Jon Stanbrough also scored a Gas City win last year.
2014 AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Standings: 1-Dave Darland-254, 2-Chase Stockon-233, 3-Justin Grant-227, 4-Bryan Clauson-226, 5-Brady Bacon-225, 6-Tracy Hines-204, 7-Jon Stanbrough-195, 8-Robert Ballou-153, 9-Chris Windom-152, 10-Hunter Schuerenberg-146.