By CAREY FOX
PUTNAMVILLE – The sun finally rose for the 2018 season opening event as the 50th anniversary season for Lincoln Park Speedway debuted Saturday night with 121 cars/drivers were on hand for competition.
Thirty-eight sprint cars were in the pits to do battle for the $2,500 top prize, but none could top a legend in the sport.
Lincoln, Ind. native Dave Darland climbed back into the seat of the Goodnight No. 36 and returned to victory lane with a dominant performance. The driver/car duo had been a local force 20 years previous and the combo was magic once again Saturday night as Darland topped Shane Cockrum, who charged from a 17th-place starting position. Oklahoma’s Tyler Thomas was third with Alabama hotshoe Kevin Thomas Jr. in fourth and Kyle Cummins rounding out the top-five.
Josh Cunningham, Darland, Tyler Thomas and Cummins were each heat race winners to set themselves up well for the main event. However, from the opening wave of the green flag it was Darland that set the pace after getting past Cunningham. The pair duked it out closely through the opening five laps before Darland set sail and opened up a solid gap. Tyler Thomas and Arizona’s Stevie Sussex III were in a side-by-side duel ahead of Cummins.
At the midway point, Clinton Boyles pulled into the infield derailing a solid run in the top-10, but Darland continued to roll on restarts to maintain his advantage up front. On lap-15 it was Tyler Thomas that had moved close to Darland on a longer green flag run with Cummins and Cockrum close behind before a red flag came out for a roll over by Nate McMillin.
On the restart, it was once again a masterful job by Darland, who opened up a sizable gap down the stretch as Tyler Thomas and Cockrum were left to fight for second-place. Cockrum would make a late pass stick to take home the second spot behind Darland’s return to victory lane at the scenic Putnamville oval.
Brady Ottinger got to the front early in the second sprint car feature and ran a smooth line, which equaled his first sprint car feature win. Chris Phillips came home second ahead of Jadon Rogers, Brandon Spencer and Kent Christian.
Derek Groomer picked up the UMP Modified victory in dominant fashion after starting outside of Logan Moody. However, Moody was collected in a turn two spin on the start and was forced to restart in the back. Groomer roared out to a consistent lead despite numerous cautions throughout the 20-lap event.
The best race came down to a fight for the runner-up spot as Terre Haute’s Brent Hudson and Brazil’s Tyler Loughmiller battled throughout the race before Loughmiller edged ahead out of turn four with two laps remaining. Loughmiller made his way forward to contend after starting 11th and placed second in the feature. Hudson piloted his No. 2B home for a podium finish as James Walters cruised home fourth ahead of Lynn Johns.
The UMP Super Stock feature came down to the wire between teammates as Wes McClara was able to overcome Greencastle’s Jonny Newgent coming out of the final corner.
A blanket could have been thrown over the duo for the final 15 circuits of the race as McClara stalked a passing lane behind Newgent, who started on the pole. McClara, starting fifth, closed to second quickly and the two pulled out to a solid lead on the rest of the field. Behind them, it was Doug McCullough early before he was forced to pull to the infield with mechanical problems. Justin Massie ran top-five for much of the race before settling for ninth overall. Paul Wright and Bryce Shidler were top-five runners as Brazil’s Larry Raines made his move to the front after starting back in 15th.
A late restart set the final dash for cash as McClara got a good re-start and parlayed that into a door-to-door battle with Newgent heading to the final corner. As the dove into turn four it was McClara that got a strong run out of the corner to win by a half car length over Newgent with Raines placing third ahead of Shidler and Greencastle’s Kris Starks.
There were 33 bombers on hand to compete for the victory this week and 24 were set to start the A-main. On this night it was Paragon’s Josh Litton that overcame early electrical issues to power to the victory in a hard fought battle with Cody Wright. Jordan Almanza came home third.
Wright and Almanza fought wheel-to-wheel over the opening five laps ahead of Beggs and Wright with Ethan Litton and Gary Hayden. Josh Litton jumped into the fray and was able to get to the front on lap eight with a move outside of turn four.
Once out front, it was Josh Litton and Almanza battling for several laps before Wright was able to make the pass for the second spot. Almanza and Beggs went hard after the leaders before placing third and fourth. Ethan Litton placed fifth.
Lincoln Park Speedway
Sprint Car feature
1. Dave Darland, 2. Shane Cockrum, 3. Tyler Thomas, 4. Kevin Thomas Jr., 5. Kyle Cummins, 6. Stevie Sussex III, 7. Joe Stornetta Jr., 8. Josh Cunningham, 9. AJ Hopkins, 10. Colten Cottle, 11. Collin Ambrose, 12. Mario Clouser, 13. Brandon Morin, 14. Tim Creech II, 15. Brandon Mattox, 16. Nate McMillin, 17. Koby Barksdale, 18. Clinton Boyles, 19. Jake Scott, 20. Shelby VanGilder, 21 .Brent Beauchamp
Sprint car feature 2
1. Brady Ottinger, 2. Chris Phillips, 3. Jadon Rogers, 4. Brandon Spencer, 5. Kent Christian, 6. Adam Wilfong, 7. Mitchell Davis, 8. Harley Burns, 9. Eric Perrott, 10. David Gross
B-main winners: Ambrose, Cockrum
Heat winners: Cunningham, Darland, T. Thomas, McMillin, Cummins
UMP Modified feature
1. Derek Groomer, 2. Tyler Loughmiller, 3. Brent Hudson, 4. James Walters, 5. Lynn Johns, 6. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 7. RJ Pruitt, 8. Michael Fish, 9. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 10. Travis Shoulders, 11. Josh McDaniel, 12. Nate Zimmer, 13. Rob Brickert, 14. Jimmy Hayden, 15. Josh Boller, 16. Jeff Deckard, 17. Jerry Bland Jr., 18. Roger Cavaness, 19. Logan Moody, 20. Jake Leitzman
Heat winners: Groomer, Moody, Hudson, Zimmer
UMP Super Stock
1. Wes McClara, 2. Jonny Newgent, 3. Larry Raines, 4. Bryce Shidler, 5. Kris Starks, 6. Scott Ricketts, 7. Carlos Bumgardner, 8. Chris Harcourt, 9. Justin Massie, 10. Austin Phelps, 11. Charley Waldon, 12. Michael Clark, 13. Paul Wright, 14. Matt Jordan, 15. Hayden Rogers, 16. Dale Hayes, 17. Doug McCullough, 18. Edward Freeman, 19. Chris Hillman, 20. Jack Campbell
Heat winners: Newgent, Jordan, Hillman
1. Josh Litton, 2. Cody Wright, 3. Jordan Almanza, 4. Jeff Beggs, 5. Ethan Litton, 6. Jeff Allen, 7. Travis Heramb, 8. Matt Raber, 9. Corey Anstead, 10. Glen Ogden, 11. Robert Farris, 12. Mark Dickerson, 13. Scott Tidwell, 14. Megan Cavaness, 15. Gary Hayden, 16. Jacob Steinway, 17. Josh Foxworthy, 18. Jeremy Farris, 19. Ron Wallen Sr., 20. Jim Litton Jr., 21. Joseph Raber, 22. Shelburn Meeks Jr., 23. Ron Smith, 24. Chris Campbell
B-main winer: Devin Wallen
Heat winners: Foxworthy, Almanza, Wright, Beggs