Kokomo, Indiana…….In a rare day show due to rains delaying the Thursday portion of the Stoops Freightliner – Quality Trailer “Sprint Car Smackdown III,” Dave Darland etched his name into the history books along with Tom Bigelow atop the all-time AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car win list. The Lincoln, Indiana veteran came out on top of another great duel between he and Justin Grant to win the 30-lapper, his fifth win of the season.
Grant got the jump from the pole, but he pushed the front end as he moved to the cushion in turn-one, getting sideways and collecting C.J. Leary, who spun. Bryan Clauson had nowhere to go and stopped, as well. Grant continued on as the other two restarted from the tail.
On the second start, Grant beat Jerry Coons, Jr. to turn-one and stuck to the cushion as he opened up an early lead. Coons, Shane Cottle, and Robert Ballou raced hard for the second spot, as Darland had no progress early from his third-row starting spot after again posting the ProSource “Fast Time Award.”
After consecutive cautions on laps seven, eight, and nine, Grant continued to lead as Darland sliced past Cottle and Coons to take second. He whittled away at Grant’s lead, catching him with ten to go. Darland looked low in one and two once, and then tried the middle through three and four on lap 24 just as Grant bobbled on the cushion. Darland ripped through the middle and barely navigated past Grant as the two made slight contact exiting turn-four.
Just a lap later, Kyle Cummins run on the high side came to an end against the turn-one concrete, bringing out the final caution. Darland led on the restart as Grant tried a new approach, going high above the cushion in turn-three and diamonding down through the middle in turn-four. He closed to the back bumper of Darland as they completed the 28th lap, and the next lap Grant had the run he wanted as they took the white flag. He dove to the bottom and slid up the track, leaving a narrow lane to the outside where Darland darted past with the lead and the win.
The 52nd win of Dave Darland’s career came at his home track aboard the Phillips Motorsports – Racer’s Advantage Store #71P DRC/Foxco.
“It’s an amazing moment to put myself at the top with Tom Bigelow. I’m so glad I could do it here, and in another great race with Justin Grant. He is as good as they get around the top here. I was just in the right place at the right time to be able to get him. He threw one at me at the end, but he left me room and I had a decision to make, so I went for the gap and luckily squeezed through. I was trying not to make mistakes at the end after the restart, but I was messing up every lap. You can’t ever rest here – you have to always be running hard and aggressive,” Darland said of his immense success at the popular quarter-mile.
Darland continued on about finally reaching the peak of the USAC Sprint Car win list, “For me to get to where Tom is, it’s just hard to believe even. Definitely the biggest accomplishment of my career. I’m relieved to be there, and I’m glad I can enjoy it with all my fans and friends around here. I’ve won for quite a few different sprint car teams over the years, and I can’t thank all those people enough for the opportunities they gave me. That being said, this Phillips Motorsports team is as great as they come, and we’ll be ready to go for the finale.”
Grant held on for another close second to Darland, thrilling the Kokomo crowd in the Mark Hery Motorsports – Frolic Bar & Grill #40 DRC/Claxton.
“That last-lap slider was my opportunity, but I screwed it up. It was stickier across the middle than I thought it would be, and I didn’t make it to the cushion quick enough to block him. One bobble cost me the lead and one missed opportunity there at the end. I’m tired of running second to him. I’m looking forward to a longer race – it seems like we just get better and better on longer runs. I couldn’t go to my line in three and four until I lost the lead, but it was working. We’re really good up top around here, but it just so happens that the guy who is the best at it is beating us,” Grant said.
Robert Ballou closed on the top-two at the end to round out the podium and become the high point earner going into the Saturday night program with the Ballou Motorsports – Deaton’s Waterfront Services #12x Maxim/Ott.
“I probably stuck to the bottom a lap too long and Dave get by me on the top and those guys got away. I felt better than them at the end, but I think we’re having some issues with this engine, too. It’s great to have another podium and be locked in for the finale, though,” Ballou said.
Chris Windom advanced from 12th to finish fourth and win the PPM Titanium Products “Hard Charger Award” in the Jeff’s Jam-It-In Storage – Hoosier Tire #11 Maxim/Claxton. Jon Stanbrough backed up his win from last night in the Griffin’s Propane – Indiana Underground Construction #37RW Maxim/Fisher.
Ballou and Clauson received qualifying bonuses from Phoenix Racer’s Advantage Store. Leary, Chase Stockon, Brandon Mattox, and Logan Jarrett won the Arizona Open Wheel Museum Heat Races presented by CSI Shocks.
Stanbrough took home the GoPro Semi-Feature, and Chad Boespflug received a right-rear tire for winning the American Racing Ministries “Perseverance Award” as the last transfer. Ryan Bernal was the first non-transfer, receiving the Indy Performance Composites “Close Call Award.” Tracy Hines won the Pace Performance Coatings “Hard Work Award.”
Grant and Leary made up the “Factory Kahne Front Row,” and Chris Windom received a tire from Customized Service Trucks after qualifying 13th.
Chad Boespflug now leads the standings for the Spire Sports + Entertainment “Passing Master Award” after advancing 18 total positions. Chris Windom sits second at 16, with Tracy Hines third (15).
Tonight’s B&W Auto Mart “King of the Hill” to line up the first four rows of the 40-lap Feature on “AMSOIL Championship Night” will include Ballou, Stanbrough, Bacon, Darland, Clauson, Windom, Cottle, and Stockon. One-on-one races will decide the winner.
AMSOIL USAC SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: August 23, 2014 – Kokomo, Indiana – Kokomo Speedway – Stoops Freightliner Quality Trailer “Sprint Car Smackdown III”
QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Dave Darland, 71p, Phillips-12.791; 2. Robert Ballou, 12x, Ballou-12.985; 3. Bryan Clauson, 20, Stewart/Curb-Agajanian-13.176; 4. Jerry Coons Jr., 10E, Edison-13.178; 5. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-13.189; 6. Justin Grant, 40, Hery-13.197; 7. Jon Stanbrough, 37RW, Dutcher-13.267; 8. Shane Cottle, 2E, Epperson-13.281; 9. Max McGhee, 17m, McGhee-13.286; 10. Kevin Thomas Jr., 9k, KT-13.328; 11. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-13.338; 12. Scotty Weir, 18x, Keen-13.361; 13. Chris Windom, 11, Walker-13.465; 14. Casey Shuman, 21k, Krockenberger-13.484; 15. Brady Short, 11p, Pottorff-13.532; 16. Landon Simon, 24, Simon-13.553; 17. Logan Hupp, 2m, Marshall-13.586; 18. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-13.597; 19. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-13.605; 20. Josh Spencer, 66J, Spencer-13.612; 21. Chris Gurley, 12G, Team Automotive-13.631; 22. Kyle Cummins, 21x, Pollock-13.641; 23. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-13.692; 24. Chad Boespflug, 57, Hazen-13.723; 25. Logan Jarrett, 29, Jarrett-13.737; 26. Parker Price-Miller, 9p, Ronk-13.798; 27. Nathan Moore, 48, Moore-13.970; 28. Tracy Hines, 4, Hines-13.977; 29. Trevor Kobylarz, 14, Becker-14.054; 30. Brian Karraker, 3R, Byram-14.060; 31. Ryan Bernal, 27a, Elson-14.212; 32. Daron Clayton, 92, Clayton-14.227; 33. Lee Dakus, 75, Dakus-14.305; 34. Tyler Courtney, 23c, Courtney-14.946; 35. Hunter Schuerenberg, 20N, Schuerenberg/Nolen-NT; 36. Thomas Meseraull, 77, Wingo-NT.
FIRST HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Leary, 2. Darland, 3. Windom, 4. Gurley, 5. McGhee, 6. Price-Miller, 7. Karraker. 8. Hupp, 9. Courtney. 2:18.13
SECOND HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Stockon, 2. Thomas, 3. Grant, 4. Ballou, 5. Shuman, 6. Cummins, 7. Bernal, 8. Moore. 2:19.11
RAIN AFTER SECOND HEAT - REMAINDER OF PROGRAM HELD AUGUST 23 (Day)
THIRD HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Mattox, 2. Bacon, 3. Short, 4. Clauson, 5. Andretti, 6. Stanbrough. 7. Hines. 2:15.45
FOURTH HEAT: (10 laps) 1. Jarrett, 2. Coons, 3. Spencer, 4. Cottle, 5. Simon, 6. Kobylarz, 7. Dakus. 2:16.39
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Stanbrough, 2. Cummins, 3. McGhee, 4. Hines, 5. Shuman, 6. Boespflug. 7. Bernal, 8. Price-Miller, 9. Courtney, 10. Dakus, 11. Karraker, 12. Kobylarz, 13. Simon, 14. Andretti, 15. Meseraull. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Dave Darland, 2. Justin Grant, 3. Robert Ballou, 4. Chris Windom, 5. Jon Stanbrough, 6. Kevin Thomas Jr., 7. Brady Bacon, 8. Shane Cottle, 9. Brady Short, 10. Chase Stockon, 11. Jerry Coons Jr., 12. Bryan Clauson, 13. C.J. Leary, 14. Tracy Hines, 15. Max McGhee, 16. Chad Boespflug, 17. Chris Gurley, 18. Logan Jarrett, 19. Brandon Mattox, 20. Josh Spencer, 21. Kyle Cummins, 22. Brian Karraker, 23. Casey Shuman. NT
**Meseraull flipped during the semi. Andretti flipped during the semi.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: 1-23 Grant, Laps 24-30 Darland.
NEW AMSOIL USAC NATIONAL SPRINT CAR STANDINGS: 1-Bacon-1,464, 2-Darland-1,460, 3-Clauson-1,426, 4-Stanbrough-1,380, 5-Stockon-1,261, 6-Windom-1,193, 7-Grant-1,185, 8-Hines-1,170, 9-Schuerenberg-1,067, 10-Leary-1,036.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: August 24 – Kokomo (IN) Speedway – Stoops Freightliner Quality Trailer “Sprint Car Smackdown III”