Darland Runs Down Thomas At Kokomo

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Dave Darland (71p) races around Kevin Thomas Jr. en route to victory Friday night at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway. (Gene Crucean photo)
Dave Darland (71p) races around Kevin Thomas Jr. en route to victory Friday night at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway. (Gene Crucean photo)
Dave Darland (71p) races around Kevin Thomas Jr. en route to victory Friday night at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway. (Gene Crucean photo)

KOKOMO, Ind. — When Dave Darland rolled the black No. 71p Phillips/Racers Advantage DRC into the pits behind their hauler after winning Friday’s second night of the Sprint Car Smackdown at Kokomo Speedway, crew members broke into spontaneous applause.

It was a huge night for the race team as it was Darland’s third win of the season, and widened his AMSOIL USAC national sprint car point lead.

“It’s a great night. It’ss a small team that I driver for, the Phillips,” Darland said. “They don’t have a lot of money. They just put a lot of effort into it. They put their heart and soul into this racing and they do a great job. It’s a great night for me and the team.”

After breaking the USAC qualifying track record, Darland started the main event in sixth. Alabama’s Kevin Thomas Jr. led easily from pole and built a straightaway lead in the first six laps. Christopher Bell was battling Chase Stockon and Brady Bacon for third when he got a wheel into the turn four wall and somersaulted down the front straightaway.

On the restart, Darland grabbed the lead going into turn three, but Thomas fought back to even in turn four. The duel continued for the next two laps, before Darland was able to clear Thomas. Running a high line, right against the cushion, he established a straightaway advantage which he held until an incident on lap 26 brought out the caution. When Wes McIntyre stopped against the outside wall in turn three, he was hit by Thomas Meseraull, who rolled the Baldwin Bros machine onto its side.