Kokomo, Indiana…….Dave Darland didn’t waste any time breaking the tie atop the all-time USAC National Sprint Car win list, as he backed up his win on Saturday to match Tom Bigelow at 52 wins with the record-breaker in Sunday’s Stoops Freightliner – Quality Trailer “Sprint Car Smackdown III” at Kokomo Speedway. The Lincoln, Indiana native put himself alone on top of the mountain at his home track in front of frenzied fans.
“53 feels great! Breaking Tom’s record is special enough, but to do it here with my family and so many friends and fans at Kokomo Speedway, it just couldn’t be better. This place has been really good to me, and it’s nice to get it done. There’s a lot of attention that comes with the chase, so it’s a bit of a relief. We’ve got a lot of races left this season, and it’s off my mind now,” Darland said.
Brady Bacon, who earlier beat out Darland in the B&W Auto Mart “King of the Hill” finals to earn the pole as they made up the “Factory Kahne Front Row,” took the early lead in the 40-lapper. The track was heavy early in the going, but Darland finally carved in a higher line as the track widened out, and he came calling for the lead five laps in. He roared by on the outside to complete lap-six with a lead he would never relinquish.
Only three cautions slowed the pace, with the second coming just past the halfway mark. From there, Robert Ballou came after Bacon and Jon Stanbrough in a torrid battle for the second spot. C.J. Leary also poked his nose as he entered the top-five from 12th.
Darland entered traffic for the second time with just a handful of laps remaining, and Ballou had cleared the runner-up battle to chop Darland’s lead down with five laps to go. Ballou was closing on Darland as they approached a bunch of lapped cars with less than three laps left, but Leary’s night came to an end with a flat right-rear tire, and he stopped in turn-four.
On the restart, Darland stayed on the top as Ballou, who was missing a right-rear wheel cover, tried the bottom and pulled up alongside Darland through the first set of corners. Darland kept his momentum up and rolled the final two laps without a misstep as Ballou tried valiantly to keep up on the cushion. It was Darland finishing the job, however, and bringing home the sixth win of the season for the Phillips Motorsports – Racer’s Advantage Store #71P DRC/Foxco while yet again taking over the point lead.
“I actually was happy to be in traffic because they were mostly blocking the bottom for me. There late in the race, I had all kinds of cars underneath me and made me feel a little better, so I hated to see that last caution. Usually, I would be the other way around. Luckily, we got a good restart and I was able to get my momentum up to get those last three laps over,” Darland said.
Ballou finished out a weekend where he never left the podium, improving by one spot to come home a close second in the Deaton’s Waterfront Services – Don Ott Engines #12x Maxim/Ott.
“We’ve had a great weekend and we ended up running second to the best guy in the business at his home track where he never makes mistakes. We’ve had a great stretch and finished strong this weekend. We just needed to keep a mud cover on it to the end and we may have had a better chance, but our best bet was probably to stay in traffic to the end,” Ballou said.
Bryan Clauson made a late charge on the bottom to round out the podium in the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing – Chevy Performance #20 Beast/Kistler.
“I’d say we probably needed the race to be a little longer to have a shot, but a hundred laps might not have been enough to beat Dave. We were just a tick off there, but we kept digging all weekend and got all we could, so we focus our attention on defending our championship down the stretch and try to give Dave and Brady all they can handle,” Clauson said.
Bacon held on for fourth in the Hoffman Auto Racing – Mean Green #69 Triple X/Williams Mopar, and Stanbrough rounded out the top-five in the Indiana Underground Construction – Griffin’s Propane #37RW Maxim/Fisher.
Justin Grant, Kevin Thomas, Jr., and Jerry Coons, Jr. picked up the 10-lap CSI Shocks Qualifying Races. Grant backed that up by winning the AllStar Performance “Rookie of the Race” as the driver who placed the highest in his first Smackdown finale appearance.
Chad Boespflug won the GoPro Semi-Feature to transfer to the Feature, where he continued to pass cars and win the Arizona Open Wheel Museum “Hard Charger Award.” That added to his pass total for the week, which earned him the Spire Sports + Entertainment “Passing Master Award” for his 30 advances. Boespflug’s car owner, Paul Hazen, was awarded the “Bill Gardner True Grit Award” for his determination over the course of the weekend despite being dealt many obstacles.
Tyler Courtney won the Pace Performance Coatings “Hard Work Award” and then received the Wilwood Brake Systems “Tough Break Award.” Josh Spencer won the American Racing Ministries “Perseverance Award” as the last transfer from the Semi and picked up a C&R Radiator in the feature.
Brase Yourself posted two awards for the night, with Kyle Cummins winning the “Smackdown Newcomer of the Year Award” and Trevor Kobylarz being voted the “Best Appearing Car.”
Chris Gurley and Parker Price-Miller won “Close Call Awards” from Indy Performance Composites and Impact Racing. C.J. Leary won a Weld wheel for his charge on the cushion during Saturday’s feature. Wingo Racing, who fielded Thomas Meseraull on Friday and Saturday, received the DRC Chassis “Hard Luck Award.”
QuickCar Racing Products posted two awards for the weekend, both won by Darland.
Other awards handed out on Saturday came from Simpson Racing, Hinchman Racewear, Arizona Sport Shirts, Hoosier Tire, Rod End Supply, and Traxxas.
AMSOIL USAC SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: August 24, 2014 – Kokomo, Indiana – Kokomo Speedway – Stoops Freightliner “Sprint Car Smackdown III”
FIRST QUALIFYING RACE: (10 laps) 1. Justin Grant (#40 Hery), 2. C.J. Leary (#30 Leary), 3. Logan Jarrett (#29 Jarrett), 4. Tyler Courtney (#23c Courtney), 5. Brian Karraker (#3R Byram), 6. Chad Boespflug (#57 Hazen), 7. Brandon Mattox (#28 Mattox). NT
SECOND QUALIFYING RACE: (10 laps) 1. Kevin Thomas Jr. (#9k KT), 2. Brady Short (#11p Pottorff), 3. Casey Shuman (#21k Krockenberger), 4. Landon Simon (#24 Simon), 5. Trevor Kobylarz (#14 Becker), 6. Parker Price-MIller (#9p Ronk), 7. Max McGhee (#17m McGhee). NT
THIRD QUALIFYING RACE: (10 laps) 1. Jerry Coons Jr. (#10E Edison), 2. Kyle Cummins (#21x Pollock), 3. Tracy Hines (#4 Hines), 4. Chris Gurley (#12G Team Automotive), 5. Jarett Andretti (#18 Andretti), 6. Josh Spencer (#66J Spencer). 2:18.21
B&W AUTO MART “KING OF THE HILL” 2-CAR SHOOTOUTS: (3 laps each) Round 1: Chase Stockon (#32 32 TBI) defeated Robert Ballou (#12x Ballou); Dave Darland (#71p Phillips) defeated Bryan Clauson (#20 Stewart/Curb-Agajanian); Brady Bacon (#69 Dynamics) defeated Chris Windom (#11 Walker); and Jon Stanbrough (#37RW Dutcher) defeated Shane Cottle (#2E Epperson). Round 2: Darland defeated Stockon and Bacon defeated Stanbrough. Final Round: Bacon defeated Darland.
ALSO AT THE TRACK: Lee Dakus (#75 Dakus).
B MAIN: (15 laps) 1. Boesplfug, 2. Courtney, 3. Simon, 4. McGhee, 5. Spencer, 6. Gurley, 7. Price-Miller, 8. Kobylarz, 9. Karraker, 10. Andretti, 11. Mattox. NT
FEATURE: (40 laps) 1. Dave Darland, 2. Robert Ballou, 3. Bryan Clauson, 4. Brady Bacon, 5. Jon Stanbrough, 6. Justin Grant, 7. Shane Cottle, 8. Kevin Thomas Jr., 9. Chase Stockon, 10. Kyle Cummins, 11. Logan Jarrett, 12. Chad Boespflug, 13. Brady Short, 14. Tracy Hines, 15. Max McGhee, 16. Josh Spencer, 17. Brian Karraker, 18. C.J. Leary, 19. Casey Shuman, 20. Landon Simon, 21. Jerry Coons Jr., 22. Tyler Courtney, 23. Chris Windom. NT
**McGhee flipped during the second qualifying race. Mattox flipped during the B-Main. Andretti flipped during the B-Main.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-5 Bacon, Laps 6-40 Darland.
NEW AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Darland-1,520, 2-Bacon-1,515, 3-Clauson-1,480, 4-Stanbrough-1,428, 5-Stockon-1,297, 6-Grant-1,230, 7-Windom-1,206, 8-Hines-1,195, 9-Ballou-1,085, 10-Hunter Schuerenberg-1,067.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: August 29 – Terre Haute (IN) Action Track – “Jim Hurtubise Classic”