ROSSBURG, Ohio — Winning never seems to get old for Dave Darland.
To him, every checkered flag is as important and exciting as the first one and Saturday’s triumph in Eldora Speedway’s Don Branson/Jud Larson Classic was no exception.
Victory lane was pure jubilation for the popular Indiana veteran as he collected his fifth AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series win on the venerable half-mile clay Eldora oval and in doing so, extended his USAC cumulative point lead.
Getting to the front was no easy task for fourth-place starting Darland. Polesitter Chase Stockon charged into the lead at the dropping of the green flag, with Dallas Hewitt, Jerry Coons Jr. and Darland in tow.
Within three laps, Stockon had built up an eight car length lead over Hewitt, as Darland moved into third to challenge for the runner-up position. Driving hard into turn three on the fifth circuit, Hewitt brushed the outer wall, which sent him into a series of flips and ended his night.
The ensuing restart set up an eight-lap battle highlighted by classic Eldora slide jobs.
Darland slid under Stockon going into turn three, but Stockon retaliated by diving off of turn four and ran wheel to wheel down the frontstretch with Darland before doing a slide job of his own into turn one. That move outsmarted Darland and again Stockon began increasing his margin over the field.
Darland began building up his steam and coming down to complete lap ten, he not only caught up to the leader, but tried yet another slide job going into turn one. While this time the slide job was successful, before the lap could be completed, another red flag appeared for a flipping Jarrett Andretti.
That relegated Darland back to second and set up two laps of see-saw battling between the fast-running pair. Persistence paid off for Darland as he executed a successful pass coming down to complete lap 13 to move out front, where he was to remain throughout the distance.
Stockon refused to give up and kept Darland in sight as he held off all challenges from Tracy Hines. They crossed the finish line in that order, with Coons and Brady Bacon completing the top five.
Sharing victory lane honors with Darland were Matt Westfall in the UMP DIRTcar Modifieds and Jeff Koz in the stock cars.