Eagle, Nebraska…….For the 49th time in his illustrious career, Dave Darland drove his way to AMSOIL National Sprint Car victory lane in Friday’s “Rumble in the Bullring” at Eagle Raceway. The Lincoln, Indiana veteran became the first repeat winner of the season.
Bret Mellenberndt got the jump from outside the front-row, but polesitter Bryan Clauson snuck under him to lead the opening lap. The show early on, however, was Justin Grant, who started seventh but immediately jumped up above the cushion and made his way to the front. After rocketing off turn-two on lap five, he rode the cushion to the lead at the line.
After a short red flag for Cody Brewer, a lap-14 restart gave Darland the opportunity he needed to attack Grant. After getting a good run down the fronstretch, Darland dove down underneath Grant into turn-one and came away with the lead.
Grant did not give up, as he ran Darland back down with just a few laps remaining but bobbled on the turn-three cushion, allowing Darland to gain some breathing room and cruise to the win in the Phillips Motorsports – Racer’s Advantage Store #71P DRC/Foxco.
“Justin was really sailing around the top, but it was pretty choppy especially into one. I was just waiting to take advantage of that if I could. We finally got that restart and I had such a good run, I was able to slide him into there. It worked out that we got that opportunity and could get by him and to the lead when we did,” Darland said.
Grant repelled late challenges of Brady Bacon to retain the second spot in the Mark Hery Racing – Dick’s Paint & Body #40 DRC/Claxton.
“I really like this track, but not the result. (Car owner) Mark (Hery) and I talked and thought it looked like Kokomo on the nights we would go up above the cushion. We freed it up a lot and tried to do something spectacular. It was working for a while. I should have slid myself on that restart, especially with Dave behind me, but I hadn’t even gone anywhere but the top through that end. Dave is good and snuck under us. I got my rhythm back late and we were a little better, but there wasn’t much of anywhere to go,” said Grant, whose high-side exploits earned him the Weld Wheels “Move of the Night.”
Bacon was another one on the move in the feature, climbing from tenth to a podium finish in the Hoffman Auto Racing – Mean Green #69 Triple X/Stanton Mopar.
“It’s good to be good at the end of the night, but we have a few little tweaks to make to be sure we’re not buried so deep after qualifying. Tonight was a great recovery. The car was great both high and low. Once we got to Justin, I almost got him on the bottom a couple times and tried to slip up on him a little and he was able to use his momentum to get back past us,” Bacon said.
Fast qualifier Tracy Hines finished fourth in The Carolina Nut Company – Hansen’s Welding #4 DRC/Stanton Chevy and Clauson held on for fifth and continues to lead the series standings in the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing – Chevy Perofrmance #20 Beast/Kistler.
AMSOIL USAC SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: May 2, 2014 – Eagle, Nebraska – Eagle Raceway
QUALIFYING: 1. Tracy Hines, 4, Hines-13.642; 2. Shane Cockrum, 66, Amati-13.756; 3. Chase Stockon, 32/TBI-13.769; 4. Dave Darland, 71P, Phillips-13.774; 5. Bret Mellenberndt, 97, Mellenberndt-13.906; 6. Bryan Clauson, 20, Stewart/Curb-Agajanian-13.938; 7. Justin Grant, 40, Hery-13.963; 8. Hunter Schuerenberg, 20N, Schuerenberg/Nolen-14.000; 9. Jon Stanbrough, 37, Dutcher-14.003; 10. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-14.023; 11. Chris Windom, 11, Walker-14.089; 12. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-14.138; 13. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-14.362; 14. Dylan Kadous, 11x, RHR-14.714; 15. Tony Rost, 99, Rost-14.717; 16. Cody Brewer, 96, Brewer-15.158; 17. Alex Schriever, 0, Davis-15.166; 18. Brandon Stevenson, 0x, Stevenson-15.183; 19. Nathan Moore, 48, Moore-NT.
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Leary, 2. Grant, 3. Darland, 4. Hines, 5. Andretti, 6. Brewer. 1:48.77
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Windom, 2. Schuerenberg, 3. Cockrum, 4. Kadous, 5. Mellenberndt, 6. Schriever. NT
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Stanbrough, 2. Bacon, 3. Clauson, 4. Stockon, 5. Rost, 6. Stevenson. 1:50.37
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Dave Darland, 2. Justin Grant, 3. Brady Bacon, 4. Tracy Hines, 5. Bryan Clauson, 6. Jon Stanbrough, 7. Hunter Schuerenberg, 8. Chris Windom, 9. Shane Cockrum, 10. Chase Stockon, 11. Jarett Andretti, 12. Bret Mellenberndt, 13. Tony Rost, 14. C.J. Leary, 15. Cody Brewer, 16. Dylan Kadous, 17. Brandon Stevenson, 18. Alex Schriever, 19. Nathan Moore. NT
**Brewer flipped on lap 14 of the Feature.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-4 Clauson, Laps 5-13 Grant, Laps 14-30 Darland.
NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Clauson-398; 2-Bacon-390; 3-Grant-376; 4-Darland-372; 5-Stockon-366; 6-Hines-361; 7-Stanbrough-342; 8-Schuerenberg-300; 9-Windom-264; 10-Leary-229.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: May 3 – McCool Junction, Nebraska – Junction Motor Speedway