Terre Haute, Indiana…….It was another night of historical importance on the AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship tour at the Terre Haute Action Track as 47-year-old Dave Darland won his 50th career race with the series at the same place where he won his first. The man closing in on the all-time win record took his first victory in the 1993 “Tony Hulman Classic” and made it his second score in the legendary race on Wednesday night.
Kevin Thomas, Jr. started from the pole and beat Darland to the lead, jumping to the top as those two raced away from the rest of the field. Tracy Hines slowed the early pace as he slowed in turn-four with ten laps complete, just after the leaders had encountered traffic.
From there, Darland stalked Thomas as they opened up ground on the rest of the field. Darland got enough of a run on lap 17 to attempt a slide-job into turn-three, but he couldn’t get past the Cullman, Alabama driver. Shortly after, they entered traffic again, and this time Darland caught a break. As they completed lap 21, Thomas dropped low just as the slower car in front of him did the same, leaving the high side open for Darland to circle him with the lead.
After a quick yellow, Darland drove away from the field as Thomas tried to hold back Jon Stanbrough and Brady Bacon. Stanbrough tried to slide past Thomas for second, but he couldn’t complete the pass, which allowed Bacon to pounce for third.
Another late caution gave Thomas one last chance, and he tried a last-ditch effort into one on the restart that didn’t stick. Darland’s third win of the year in the Phillips Motorsports – Racer’s Advantage Store #71P DRC/Foxco puts him just two behind all-time wins leader Tom Bigelow.
“It’s exciting to get to 50, especially here at such a historical place. I’ve had some great memories here, and winning here 21 years after my first is pretty unbelievable. I gave him a little bit of a slider a couple times just to show him I was there and try to force a mistake. It was unfortunate for him to pick the wrong spot with the lapped car, but it gave me the cushion and took advantage of it. My Phillips team gave me a great car to put ourselves in that position, because we were probably about the same speed and it was gonna be tough to get him,” Darland said.
Thomas enjoyed a strong night with his first podium finish of the season as he now drives the Jeff’s Jam-It-In Storage – Hoosier Tire #11x Maxim/Claxton.
“That one really hurt. I love this place, especially the way it was tonight. You kinda get into a rhythm there, and then you mess up in traffic and it’s over. I guess it’s another case of the young guy getting out-smarted by Dave Darland. I had been cruising and not feeling any pressure until I saw him looking under me, wanting to make sure I didn’t kill the tires. As soon as you see the black 71, you get your elbows up as high as you can get them. It’s nice to get back on track and run second, especially to him,” Thomas said.
Bacon made a run at Thomas for second in the closing lap but had to settle for third in the Hoffman Auto Racing – Mean Green #69 Triple X/Williams, and he put his name on the all-time Track Record around the storied half-mile after circling in 19.225 seconds.
“The Hoffmans like track records, but they like wins more. Tonight got pretty good in the feature, but it was still so fast around the top that it made passing difficult. It’s cool to have this track record, and hopefully it stays for a while. We have a lot of momentum right now, so we’ll try to take that to Pennsylvania and get a couple wins,” Bacon said.
Stanbrough came home fourth in the Michael Dutcher Motorsports – MP Environmental Services #37RW Maxim/Fisher, and Chase Stockon rounded out the top-five in the Superior Tank & Trailer – Crescent Electric Supply #32 DRC/Fisher.
AMSOIL USAC SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: May 21, 2014 – Terre Haute, Indiana – Terre Haute Action Track – “Tony Hulman Classic”
QUALIFYING: 1. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-19.225; 2. Chase Stockon, 32, 32/TBI-19.462; 3. Tracy Hines, 4, Hines-19.481; 4. Jon Stanbrough, 37RW, Dutcher-19.522; 5. Dave Darland, 71P, Phillips-19.589; 6. Kevin Thomas Jr., 11x, Walker-19.606; 7. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-19.685; 8. Chris Windom, 11, Walker-19.718; 9. Bryan Clauson, 20, Stewart/Curb-Agajanian-19.787; 10. Hunter Schuerenberg, 20N, Schuerenberg/Nolen-19.791; 11. Justin Grant, 40, Hery-19.800; 12. Carson Short, 21, Short-19.817; 13. Robert Ballou, 12x, Ballou-19.891; 14. Shane Cottle, 2E, Epperson-19.936; 15. Daron Clayton, 3R, Byram-19.962; 16. Jerry Coons Jr., 10E, Edison-20.057; 17. Brandon Mattox, 28, Mattox-20.204; 18. Jarett Andretti, 18, Andretti-20.220; 19. Aaron Farney, 15F, Farney-20.242; 20. Chris Gurley, 12G, Team Automotive-20.291; 21. Mark Smith, 1M, Smith-20.352; 22. Shane Cockrum, 66, Amati-NT; 23. Mitch Wissmiller, 1, Wissmiller-NT.
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Schuerenberg, 2. Bacon, 3. Coons, 4. Stanbrough, 5. Leary, 6. Ballou, 7. Farney. 2:42.44
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Cottle, 2. Windom, 3. Stockon, 4. Grant, 5. Darland, 6. Mattox, 7. Gurley, 8. Wissmiller. 2:43.91
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Hines, 2. Clauson, 3. Clayton, 4. Short, 5. Thomas, 6. Smith, 7. Andretti. 2:43.61
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Dave Darland, 2. Kevin Thomas Jr., 3. Brady Bacon, 4. Jon Stanbrough, 5. Chase Stockon, 6. Chris Windom, 7. Robert Ballou, 8. Tracy Hines, 9. Shane Cottle, 10. Bryan Clauson, 11. C.J. Leary, 12. Daron Clayton, 13. Hunter Schuerenberg, 14. Shane Cockrum, 15. Jarett Andretti, 16. Aaron Farney, 17. Carson Short, 18. Chris Gurley, 19. Brandon Mattox, 20. Justin Grant, 21. Mitch Wissmiller, 22. Mark Smith, 23. Jerry Coons Jr. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-21 Thomas, Laps 22-30 Darland.
NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Bacon-526, 2-Darland-497, 3-Clauson-492, 4-Hines-476, 5-Stockon-468, 6-Stanbrough-455, 7-Grant-430, 8-Schuerenberg-402, 9-Windom-366, 10-Leary-309.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: June 3 – Bechtelsville, PA – Grandview Speedway – “Eastern Storm”