WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — The 46th career AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series victory for Dave Darland came in unorthodox fashion, as he benefitted from problems with leader Bryan Clauson with less than 10 laps to go to take the victory in Saturday’s 40-lap “Topless at the Ditch” feature.
The Lincoln, Ind., veteran made it his sixth win of the year, leading the final seven laps to win by .479 seconds in the Phillips Motorsports – Racer’s Advantage No. 71p DRC/Foxco. The win tied him with Jack Hewitt for second on the all-time USAC sprint car win list, just six behind Tom Bigelow.
“It’s just an unbelievable feat to catch Jack. He was a great race car driver, and I never really considered myself in the same category. It’s an amazing accomplishment for me, and I’ve done it with a lot of different teams. Six wins with Carla and Steve Phillips — I have to thank them tremendously for all the work they put into this. And all the great teams who have given me the opportunities, I have to thank them and luckily we’ve made the most of them. Tonight isn’t the way we drew it up — we were gonna run second behind Clauson — with his misfortune, and luckily the lapped cars and I slipping by him when he stopped, we’ll definitely take the win.”
After an opening lap tangle sent front-row starter Jerod Roller flipping into the turn-one fence, it took only until lap two for another red flag to be displayed as leader Zach Pringle flipped in turn three after contact battling for the lead.
From there, the race went green for thirty laps as Clauson moved by early leader Keaton Dobbs to grab the point, with Darland following close behind, along with ProSource “Fast Qualifier” Tyler Courtney. Clauson opened up his lead as he sliced through lapped traffic, eventually lapping up to sixth before a caution flew with nine laps left for Brady Bacon.
Just after that restart, Clauson’s right-rear tire went completely flat after suffering a puncture, leading him to hop and spin in turn-one on lap 34. That was all Darland needed, as he received the lead and open track to head for the win, as ninth-starting Jon Stanbrough kept pace over the final few laps to finish second in the Marion Underground Construction – Shane Wade Enterprises #66 J&J/Dynotech.
“We had a better idea of this race track after coming here last year, and it didn’t hurt that Rick Stenhouse has run here quite a bit and builds our engines. He kept the motor tuned and helped us with knowing what the track would do. I knew passing would be at a premium, with it mostly being around the top. It came in more in places, so I could turn down at times and get a run on guys. We made the right choices tonight to go forward,” Stanbrough said.
With just five laps to go, the battle for third had heated up between Courtney and Tracy Hines, leading to contact in turn-four, but both continued on and Courtney claimed his third podium finish of the year in the All-Pro Auto Reconditioning – Butlerbuilt No. 23c Maxim/Foxco.
“I’ve never been here before, and I wasn’t sure what to think when we pulled in, looking like it would blow dust. They dumped some water on it, and it never even got a hint dry. With the track so good, we were all pretty equal up there. That’s the hardest I’ve gotten to race with those guys up front on a track like that. We struggled qualifying a lot this year, but tonight worked out for us. That set us up great for the rest of the night,” Courtney said.
Hines finished fourth with Dobbs fifth.