Sunday night’s sprint car feature at the Kokomo Speedway was one of those races that folks will be talking about years from now.
The track’s winningest sprint car driver in history, Dave Darland, rode the rim to perfection all 25 laps of the main event. However, perfection almost wasn’t enough as the veteran had to hold off numerous challenges throughout.
The most notable being Justin Grant’s last-corner, last-lap pass attempt that was too close to call by the naked eye. Track officials had to double-check the scoring transponders before declaring Darland the winner, the 50th of his career at the track.
Starting alongside two-time defending USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series champion Bryan Clauson, Darland shot to the top on the drop of the green aboard Dave Stensland’s Physical Medicine Consultants No. 41. While he was riding strong around the top of the track, Brownsburg’s Jon Stanbrough, who sits third all-time in feature wins at the local oval with 40, was inching closer lap after lap.
On the 11th lap Stanbrough actually nosed his Indiana Underground No. 37RW into the top spot at the flagstand only to see Darland reclaim the top spot the next time around. From that point on, the duo swapped the lead back and forth around the track with Stanbrough nosing ahead at the north end of the bullring and Darland inching away at the south end. With just six laps remaining, Stanbrough again held the lead at the flagstand, but Darland fought back to reclaim the top spot the next time around.
On the 22nd lap, Justin Grant got in on the fun, skirting by Stanbrough into second, making the top three all within a few feet of one another until the white flag waved. With Darland committed to the high side and Stanbrough to the bottom, Grant used the middle of the track flawlessly with all three cars charging to the finish line side by side.