DARLAND, STEWART, CRAIG CAPTURE USAC 50th ANNIVERSARY AT ELDORA
DAVE DARLAND HOLDS OFF BRYAN CLAUSON TO TAKE $10,500 USAC SPRINT WIN
50th Anniversary Race Sees Tony Stewart and Barney Craig Completing NAPA Auto Parts Tripleheader
ROSSBURG, OH (July 28) – A late race caution may have unnerved him a little, but Dave Darland held off Bryan Clauson for the final four laps to capture Saturday’s 50-lap 50th Anniversary USAC (United States Auto Club) Sprint Car race and $10,500.00 Saturday night at Eldora Speedway. Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart flew in from Brickyard 400 qualifying to capture the NRA (National Racing Alliance) Sprint Invader finale, while Barney Craig completed the NAPA Auto Parts sponsored tripleheader with his Stock Car victory.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” said a jubilant Darland from victory lane. “I didn’t need that yellow, but yet I did need that yellow to regroup and get focused on the cushion. I knew that Bryan was back there and I had to get my marks right.”
The lap 46 caution came for Robert Ballou, who had electrified the crowd with a stellar drive from 25th to 3rd. Ballou had been reeling in Clauson, but his efforts fell short when mechanical woes brought him to a stop on the backstretch.
Coleman Gulick shot from his pole position to lead the first three circuits around the .500 mile clay oval, before giving way to Clauson as he executed a perfect Eldora ‘slide job’ off of turn four. At the same time, Tracy Hines was moving up from his sixth starting position.
Three laps later Darland slipped past Gulick to move into second and set his sights on Clauson. All the while, Ballou was moving forward as was Chase Stockon from 21st.
Clauson entered lapped traffic on the 15th tour, but Darland kept him in sight, and got his chance to move to the front with a turn two ‘slide job’ on lap 22. Two laps later, the red flag appeared as Gulick had an engine expire and oiled the surface.
On the restart, Darland again took command for two more laps before Hines tagged the wall and brought out the final yellow flag for Ballou on lap 46.
Just prior to the yellow Clauson regained his earlier momentum and was within two car lengths of Darland.
Afterwards Clauson explained, “I was gaining on Dave, but I really didn’t know what I was going to do with him when I got to him.”
He never got that chance to find out.
Finishing behind Darland and Clauson were current USAC Sprint Car point leader Jon Stanbrough and Stockon, with Thomas Messeraull completing the top five.
Jared Horstman was the early leader of the NRA night cap event before Kyle Sauder built up a head of steam and appeared to have things under control in the non-stop 20-lap affair. Stewart had other thoughts and after picking Horstman off on lap 15 for second place, he set up a driving clinic over the final five laps.
With Sauder in clear view, it took him only two laps to charge into the lead and eventual victory; his third career NRA win at Eldora. Sauder crossed the lined in second as Horstman, Randy Hannagan and Hud Horton rounded out the top five.
Craig survived several yellow flags to outlast the field and capture his fourth Stock Car feature win of the season. Rob Trent closed within the final few laps, but was unable to grab the lead or win. With Trent settling for second, Shawn Phillippi, Dean Pitts and Mark Wooten followed in that order.