He’s the winningest driver in USAC National Sprint Car Series history, one of just six members of USAC’s Triple Crown club of drivers having won championships in all three major USAC divisions, one of the most popular drivers in USAC history, and a 2017 inductee to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. He’s still fast; last season he earned three USAC National Sprint Car Series feature wins. And yet, he currently has no fulltime ride.
We sat down with Dave Darland to talk about his career in the sport, from beginning through to today, to find out what comes next.
SC&M: This year, you started out the season with Chase Briscoe Racing and you were set to run for them all season, but that didn’t work out. What happened?
DAVE DARLAND: The sponsor money they were needing to get for that situation just didn’t come through. The money connection just didn’t come through for just a couple different reasons there. So, we were looking forward to running for the Briscoes – you know they’ve got a good team and Chase and Kevin and Dick Briscoe have been friends of mine for all my life, going back to Dick and Kevin. I was certainly looking forward to driving for that team with Chase Briscoe, and Brady Short as the mechanic and another guy on the team that I’m buddies with. You know, we were gonna have some fun. Just, unfortunately it didn’t materialize.
SC&M: You recently told me you’ve driven five different sprint cars so far this year, including your own.
DARLAND: Yeah, I’ve got my own car now. I haven’t driven any USAC races with it. I was gonna run for Michael Dutcher, you know the Dutcher Motorsports team, but we were needing a sponsor there too, and we weren’t getting anywhere with a sponsor for that team. And, he had an opportunity to go wrench on Kevin Thomas Jr. [for Hayward Thomas Motorsports]. He had an opportunity to go make a paycheck there, so he opted to do that, which I certainly don’t blame him. We weren’t getting very far with me and him trying to find sponsors and making it happen. We were set to race for a little bit if we had to, until we just couldn’t do it anymore. When he had the opportunity to take the job working for KTJ he went there. So, that put me out of the 17GP ride.
So, now I’m just kind of looking around for something to piece together whenever I can. I’ve missed a couple races this year already without being able to find a ride. I haven’t missed very many USAC sprint car races in the last 30 years due to any reason. I’ve made most of them, and now it’s getting hard to find something to fill in.
SC&M: Now that you have your own car, how much will you be running your own car?
DARLAND: I have my own car, which we just bought, and was set to run it for a few races. I just have one engine and it was fairly fresh. I was expecting to get a few races out of it, but somehow we hurt the motor in it already. We found that the plugs were just running too lean somehow. I’m not sure…we haven’t investigated yet on why and what happened exactly, but we know that the engine’s hurt and it’s running lean so we’ve gotta figure it out and fix it.
(Jeff) Claxton’s (of Claxton Engines) gonna help me get that thing back together. We will have it back out within a couple weeks.
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