The USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series kicked off its Western swing over the weekend at Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, Arizona. The “Arizona Hall of Fame Classic” started on Friday night with a 30-lap feature event that was co-sanctioned by USAC/CRA which saw Dave Darland pick up the win. Darland found his way around early race leader Kevin Thomas Jr. on the 18th lap to take the lead. Darland then fought of a late charge from Bryan Clauson to pick up the win by 1.093 seconds.
In victory lane Darland said, “The race track was pretty slick tonight, and we got up into second when Bryan was up trying the top. KT slipped wide a little bit there in turn-two and that was our opportunity. The race track kinda dictated what we had to do there, but we stayed patient and took advantage. I want to thank Kevin Montgomery (Canyon Speedway promoter) for having us out here, and my whole team for giving me a great car, and thank Steve (Stroud, of Parker Store) and everybody for coming out.”
The win was Darland’s 6th USAC win of the season and 40th of his career which now ties him for 6th all-time with Gary Bettenhausen. Clauson came home in the runner-up spot with Thomas in third, Mike Spencer in fourth, and Robert Ballou rounded out the top-five. After the race Clauson actually gained one point on Darland’s championship point lead which Darland still holds a 22-point lead over Clauson.
Saturday night at the “Arizona Hall of Fame Classic” was a crowdpleaser as local driver Mike Martin of Yuma, Arizona took home a popular victory. Martin jumped to an early lead from his outside pole starting position and would lead all 30 laps of the feature to take the victory. After the victory “Magic Mike” Martin said, “I tell you what, that was no easy chore. We needed every bit of help to get it done tonight. Fortunately, the track was in our favor, and we’ve been running well here. Everything just worked out for us tonight, starting on the front row and all. I was nervous coming up on lapped cars, but everything turned out perfectly.” Martin would hold off Robert Ballou who finished in the runner-up spot with Damion Gardner in third, Hunter Schuerenberg in fourth, and Jon Stanbrough completing the top-five.
The championship points battle took a twist as Dave Darland was involved in two incidents that dropped him to a 17th place finish with Bryan Clauson coming home 7th as he held on to finish with a flat left front tire. As a result Clauson took a 6 point lead over Darland with only two races remaining in the season. Those final two races will be held November 2nd and 3rd at California’s Perris Auto Speedway for the “Budweiser Oval Nationals.” For more information on the Amsoil USAC National Sprint Car Series fans can visit www.USACracing.com.