A race that won’t be forgotten.
That was the sentiment of the huge crowd filing out of the Kokomo Speedway on Saturday night after Dave Darland held off Justin Grant to win by the slightest of margins in the second leg of the Indiana Sprint Week for the USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series.
Darland took the lead from last year’s winner, Kevin Thomas Jr., on the sixth lap and opened a comfortable advantage over Grant, Chris Windom, Bryan Clauson and Brady Bacon. In the waning laps, however, the Lincoln veteran got bottled up behind slower traffic aboard his Phillips Racing No. 71P.
Twice Grant got in front of Darland in the closing laps, but Darland countered by diamonding off the corner to reclaim the top spot. On the final lap, with Darland riding the rim around turns three and four, Grant hammered his Hery Racing/Claxton Engines No. 40 hard into the third corner, then diamonded off the corner and pulled alongside Darland but couldn’t make the pass.
“I’m a little winded,” said Darland. “Riding the cushion around here for 30 laps is hard work. Justin is a helluva a racer and he’s a lot of fun to race against. He drives me clean and I drive him clean. I knew he was there. He runs here a lot and he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve on how to get around here.
“My crew gives me a fast car every night out,” Darland continued. “I can’t thank them enough for all they do to give me a fast race car every time out. A week ago I was [complaining] about the track out here but [Saturday] it was fast all night long. The O’Connors do a great job both here and Terre Haute and I’m looking forward to getting to Terre Haute Wednesday night.”