PEORIA, Ariz. — Indiana’s Dave Darland added his second consecutive Winter Challenge triumph in wire-to-wire fashion by taking the $3,000 winner’s share in Sunday night’s 30-lap USAC Southwest vs. USAC West Coast Sprint Car feature at Canyon Speedway Park.
Starting outside the front row, Darland led throughout to take the checkered flag ahead of a charging Charles Davis Jr., who emerged from a wild battle for runner-up honors in Darland’s wake.
“We’ve had a great car since we unloaded on Friday night and the track was in great shape again,” Darland said after his triumph in the third of six Winter Challenge rounds aboard the Casey Minks No. 1x entry.
With Darland taking Sprint Car honors, Ricky Thornton Jr., matched him by topping the IMCA modified ranks for the second night in a row. Ty Warner took pure stock honors for the second night as well as did Brenden Priest in the mod lites, with Tyler Seavey victorious in the micro sprints.
While Casey Shuman led the non-wing sprint car feature field to the green flag from the pole position, fellow front row starter Darland battled into the lead on the opening round then rode the high side of the third-mile oval the rest of the way for his second win in a row after an early exit from the Friday night opener.
While Darland raced to the victory virtually unchallenged, the action in his wake was wild with Shuman holding down the runner-up slot before slipping to fifth in the final circuits after a late caution shuffled the top 10.
Just two cautions slowed Darland’s fast pace out front, including one after seven laps for a Mitch Mack spin in turn two and then one with just nine laps remaining when Colby Copeland and Dalten Gabbard got together in turn four. Copeland had held down the third position until slipping back after the initial caution.
With Shuman, R.J. Johnson, Stevie Sussex and Josh Pelkey on Darland’s tail tank on the lap-22 restart, it was sixth-runner Davis making the bottom of the track work to his advantage as he raced up to second by the 27th round and fell just a few car-lengths shy of Darland at the stripe.
Pelkey made his way around Shuman on the 28th lap to snare the show position behind Darland and Davis, Jr., with Ryan Bernal rallying from ninth to fourth in the final rounds.
Shuman rounded out the top five with reigning USAC Southwest champion R.J. Johnson in sixth.
Dave Darland, Charles Davis Jr., Josh Pelkey, Ryan Bernal, Casey Shuman, R.J. Johnson, Aaron Reutzel, Stevie Sussex, Josh Hodges, Mike Martin, Nic Faas, Brady Bacon, Tye Mihocko, Michael Curtis, Jason Grady, Shon Deskins, Jimmy Crawford, Josh Grady, David Dykes, Colby Copeland, Dalten Gabbard, Mitch Mack.