With $10,000 to win on the line and $4,000 more available in lap money, it was possible for the winner of Saturday night’s USAC Amsoil National Sprint Car Series’ Sprint Car Smackdown II to go home with $14,000 if they led all 40 laps.
Veteran standout Dave Darland did just that, leading every lap after starting outside the front row and riding the cushion flawlessly all 40 laps to hold off a determined charge by Kokomo’s Shane Cottle.
Cottle, who captured the “Hard-Charger” Award for passing the most cars over the three-day show (52), started the feature in the fifth row and after a four-lap tussle back and forth with Chad Boespflug, Brady Bacon and Chase Stockon, finally took over second place and set his sights on the top spot.
By the time that Cottle had taken the runner-up position, Darland had already set sail and held more than a full straightaway advantage over Darland. However with 25 laps in, Cottle had closed to within a car length of Darland and looked poised to take the top spot, however the caution flag flew, thwarting Cottle’s charge.
On the restart Darland again stretched the lead out to a sizeable advantage, but as the laps wound down, Cottle again mounted a final charge but the combination of time running out and his car getting looser by the lap forced him to settle for a hard-earned second.
“I used my car up trying to get up to Dave,” said Cottle. “I had to race everyone so hard just to get to second but it took its toll on the car. I hated to see that caution come out late in the race. I was reeling him in on the long run, but under caution I think the right rear sealed over.
“Dave is so tough to beat here, especially when he is on the cushion,” Cottle continued. “When I got behind him, I realized just how great that guy is. He was perfect running the top. I was just sitting back there watching him and that guy is awesome.”