Darland Takes 2nd Turkey Night GP

Darland Kisses AggiePERRIS, CA -RIS- Dave Darland is now the third driver in the 73 year history of the Turkey Night Grand Prix to win on both pavement and dirt. In an exciting race he seemed to be fated to finish second until Damion Gardner lost his left rear wheel with four laps left while leading comfortably.

It also is worth noting that Darland seems to have found a second home track at Perris Auto Speedway as he also won the Sprint Car Oval Nationals at the track at the start of November so he has the two biggest races of the year at Perris in the same season.

Unlike last years race, won by Kyle Larson in a battle of tire wear where Kyle saved his tires all race, the track this year was wide and had a heavy cushion that lasted all night. This year everyone finished with good tires and there was a lot more aggressive racing in the 98 lap feature.

Photo- Dave Darland kisses the Aggie trophy. Credit Ed Hollowell

Andrew Felker went from the outside of the front row to lead the first 49 laps. Felker ran out a long lead of about half a lap and was passing the back markers by lap 17. The lead went away when the first caution came on lap 26 for Thomas Meseraull who stopped on the front straight. Darren Hagen passed Felker for the lead on the restart but that was called back because Danny Stratton spun and stopped in turn one.

Felker held the lead on the second restart and continued to make it look easy while Hagen followed until lap 43 when Bryan Clauson stopped on track and created another caution. Clauson had lost his ignition and was done for the night.

At this point it was noticed that Felker's left rear tire was looking low. Dispite that he held the lead on the restart. Hagen got in a fight with Darland and Damion Gardner for second place and it ended badly for him with the loss of two positions while Darland was looking super tough as he went after Felker. On lap 50 he caught the slowing leader and and took over the lead. Felker tried to hang on but on lap 52 he went over the cushion and stopped in turn four as his right rear tire started to come apart.

Darland now had control and he was helped by Darren Hagen who was fighting Damion Gardner to regain second place. Jac Haudenschild stopped on track to bring out another caution on lap 56 and on the restart Hagen took second from Gardner. Kevin Swindell stopped on track on lap 69 and on the restart.

The next caution was on lap 78 and it is worth noting that until lap 75 laps turned under yellow counted but all the final 23 laps would be green with caution laps not counting.

Cody Swanson flipped on lap 78 and brought the race to a halt. Crews were allowed to service the cars. Any tire changes would bring a one lap penalty but no one was having trouble with that. Tire pressuers were adjusted and some teams added fuel. Shannon McQueen blew an engine on the lap 78 restart and brought out another yellow. On the next restart Gardner got around Hagen and was making a charge for the lead.

On lap 81 Hagen made his exit after his motor died with ignition trouble. This brought a yellow flag.

Gardner was working on Darland on the restart and drove his Beast/Chevy, the only Chevy in the race, around Darland in turn one. Darland took the lead back in turn two and Gardner got it back again in turn four to lead four the first time. Darland fell back as Gardner appeared to have everything his way. (There is some disagreement on this as USAC says it was not until lap 85 but I have good notes and standby them.)

Taylor Ferns came to a stop on lap 84 and brought out the caution flag again. On the restart Gardner continued his lead while Darland worried about Brad Sweet who was third. By lap 92 Damion was a second ahead and pulling away.

As it looked like it was all over and teams were getting ready for the post race festivities the unexpected jumped and bit Damion Gardner as he slowed in turn four and his left rear wheel passed him and rolled down the front straight. That was on darland flips after win.lap 95, just 13 turns from the finish.

Darland was unchallenged for the final four laps and only had one more problem. How do you do donuts in a midget? He tried in the fourth turn on his victory lap but ended up tipping over on his side. So he walked to the winner's circle. He was joined by Brad Sweet and Caleb Armstrong who finished in that order.

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USAC HONDA NATIONAL/WESTERN MIDGET CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: November 28, 2013 - Perris, California - Perris Auto Speedway - "73rd Turkey Night Grand Prix"

      QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Parker Price-Miller, 9P, Ronk-16.889; 2. Andrew Felker, 11A, Felker-16.958; 3. Brad Sweet, 67z, Kahne-17.1014; 4. Taylor Ferns, 55, Ferns-17.037; 5. Caleb Armstrong, 7c, C&A-17.051; 6. Dave Darland, 73, Ford-17.119; 7. Chris Windom, 3, RFMS-17.140; 8. Darren Hagen, 56A, Hmiel-17.155; 9. Tracy Hines, 24, Parker-17.169; 10. Nick Drake, 55x, Cline-17.228; 11. Christopher Bell, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.230; 12. Dalton Armstrong, 7A, C&A-17.245; 13. Ronnie Gardner, 68, Johnson-17.265; 14. Damion Gardner, 4, Klatt-17.304; 15. Bryan Clauson, 39, Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian-17.306; 16. Nic Faas, 25, Rodela-17.324; 17. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-17.357; 18. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.361; 19. Jarid Blondel, 98, Blondel-17.378; 20. Rico Abreu, 67K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.402; 21. Mike Spencer, 51s, Fly-17.424; 22. Shannon McQueen, 7, McQueen-17.441; 23. Scott Pierovich, 35, Pierovich-17.445; 24. Jake Swanson, 05, VanDyne/Swanson-17.447; 25. Danny Stratton, 56P, Hmiel-17.454; 26. Ricky Shelton, 15, Neverlift-17.470; 27. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-17.473; 28. R.J. Johnson, 51, Martin-17.476; 29. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 72, Ford-17.487; 30. Taylor Simas, 62, Bock-17.539; 31. Shane Golobic, 26, Bock-17.588; 32. Kevin Swindell, 71x, Ronk-17.627; 33. Brad Kuhn, 10, Cook-17.643; 34. Thomas Meseraull, 0, Lamott-17.659; 35. Kyle Edwards, 39K, Edwards-17.659; 36. Nick Chivello, 27, Chivello-17.670; 37. Trey Marcham, 37, McQueen-17.679; 38. Jac Haudenschild, 73x, Ford-17.749; 39. Cody Swanson, 71s, Swanson-17.755; 40. Chris Ennis, 86, Ennis-17.897; 41. Rick Hendrix, 12, Hendrix-18.116; 42. Joey Fabozzi, 84, Fabozzi-18.158; 43. Terry Nichols, 45, Neverlift-18.202; 44. Kyle Smith, 55K, Smith-18.320; 45. Terry Goodwin, 2G, Goodwin-18.440; 46. Randi Pankratz, 8, Pankratz-18.503; 47. Tony Everhart, 55T, Everhart-18.866; 48. Danny Ebberts, 2, Boyd-NT (time of 18.326 disallowed).

      QUALIFYING RACE #1: (12 laps) 1. Daum, 2. Pierovich, 3. T. Thomas, 4. Stratton, 5. Spencer, 6. Clauson, 7. C. Swanson, 8. K. Thomas, 9. Marcham, 10. Golobic, 11. Edwards, 12. Goodwin, 13. Kuhn, 14. Blondel, 15. Hendrix, 16. Nichols, 17. Everhart.

      QUALIFYING RACE #2: (12 laps) 1. Abreu, 2. McQueen, 3. Thorson, 4. Faas, 5. J. Swanson, 6. Swindell, 7. Haudenschild, 8. Meseraull, 9. Simas, 10. Johnson, 11. Chivello, 12. Ennis, 13. Fabozzi, 14. Ebberts, 15. Smith, 16. Pankratz, 17. Shelton.

      FEATURE: (98 laps) 1. Dave Darland, 2. Brad Sweet, 3. Caleb Armstrong, 4. Zach Daum, 5. Ronnie Gardner, 6. Nic Faas, 7. Jake Swanson, 8. Rico Abreu, 9. Mike Spencer, 10. Tanner Thorson, 11. Tracy Hines, 12. Damion Gardner, 13. Brad Kuhn, 14. Tyler Thomas, 15. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 16. Nick Drake, 17. Danny Stratton, 18. Parker Price-Miller, 19. Dalton Armstrong, 20. Trey Marcham, 21. Christopher Bell, 22. Andrew Felker, 23. Taylor Ferns, 24. Darren Hagen, 25. Shannon McQueen, 26. Cody Swanson, 27. Kevin Swindell, 28. Jac Haudenschild, 29. Chris Windom, 30. Scott Pierovich, 31. Bryan Clauson, 32. Thomas Meseraull, 33. Randi Pankratz.

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**Kuhn flipped during the first qualifier. Shelton flipped during the second qualifier. C.Swanson flipped on lap 78 of the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-49, Felker, Laps 50-84 Darland, D, Laps 85-94 D.Gardner. Laps 95-98 Darland.

FINAL HONDA NATIONAL MIDGET DIRT POINTS: 1-Bell-1,101; 2-Clauson-984; 3-Hagen-921; 4-Hines-920; 5-Abreu-873; 6-Jerry Coons, Jr.-770; 7-Daum-758; 8-Felker-709; 9-Kuhn-667; 10-C.Armstrong-650.

FINAL HONDA WESTERN MIDGET POINTS: 1-R.Gardner-1,233, 2-J.Swanson-907, 3-David Prickett-733, 4-McQueen-608, 5-Pankratz-511, 6-C.Swanson-471, 7-Abreu-436, 8-Pierovich-413, 9-Marcham-413, 10-Clauson-395.

FINAL HONDA WESTERN MIDGET DIRT POINTS: 1-R.Gardner-1,233, 2-J.Swanson=907, 3-David Prickett-733, 4-Pierovich-706, 5-McQueen-608, 6-Pankratz-511, 7-C.Swanson-471, 8-Chivello-451, 9-Abreu-436, 10-Marcham-413.

 Results Courtesy USAC

Ed Hollowell

Reporter for RIS since 1996. Photo since 2002.

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Volume 2013, Issue 11, Posted 7:43 PM, 11.29.2013