Belleville Race Report

Dave Darland of Kokomo, Ind. captured the 22nd Miller Genuine Draft "Belleville Midget Nationals" Saturday on the Belleville (Kansas) High Banks, leading the final 19 laps of the 40-lap MCI WorldCom National/Western Midget Car feature at...

Dave Darland of Kokomo, Ind. captured the 22nd Miller Genuine Draft "Belleville Midget Nationals" Saturday on the Belleville (Kansas) High Banks, leading the final 19 laps of the 40-lap MCI WorldCom National/Western Midget Car feature at the 1/2-mile dirt track. Darland wheeled the #9 Steve Lewis/Wynn's/ASE/Beast Pink Ford to its fifth consecutive feature victory in USAC Midget Car competition. The MCI WorldCom National Midget Car Series stops at Mount Lawn Speedway in New Castle, Ind. this Saturday night for a complete program of events, topped by a 40-lap feature. Practice gets under way at 5:30 pm, with qualifying at 6:30 and racing at 7:30. "I'm glad to win this for Steve Lewis (my car owner)," said Darland in Belleville's victory lane. "His last win here was with Stan Fox 20 years ago (in 1979)! There have been a lot of big-time winners here and it's nice to join that list. It's only my third time to run here. I ran conservative but Jason (Leffler, his teammate) told me before the last restart to dive into turn 1 and use the moisture in the middle of the track. I guess it worked, because I was able to get by Knepper (Steve, the defending race champion)." Darland started fifth in the 25-car field and was running second when Alex Harris flipped over the guardrail in turn two on the ninth lap. He was still second to Knepper when the red flew again just past the mid-way point for Clay Klepper, who also flipped over the guardrail in turn two. Neither driver was seriously injured, although Klepper was treated at Republic County Hospital for a mild concussion. When the race resumed, Darland got by Knepper and led to the finish. Knepper finished second, about 1/4-lap in arrears, followed by Jerry Coons, Jr., A.J. Fike and pole starter Kevin Doty. Darland's win was worth $10,000 and boosted him to sixth in the MCI WorldCom National standings. MCI WorldCom Western point leader Marc DeBeaumont failed to make the 40-lap feature. Jason Leffler, who flew into Belleville to compete on Saturday night only, started last in his heat and scored a sensational victory which had the fans on their collective feet cheering his every move. In the feature he had climbed from 11th to fifth before engine problems forced him to the sidelines just past the half-way point. Darland's victory was his third in five nights in the MCI WorldCom National Midget Car Series, having won a 25-lap prelim at Belleville on Thursday and at Lincoln, Neb. Tuesday. J.J. Yeley led all but the first lap in a convincing 25-lap victory Friday at Belleville in the Boles Chevy/Tom Cherry Mufflers/Hoosier Tire/Alexander's Esslinger. Drake was second, ahead of Tracy Hines, Doty and Bobby Boone. Darland's victory at Eagle Raceway in Lincoln, Neb. Tuesday came on the last lap as Dave Strickland encountered engine problems while leading. Scott Hatton, Klepper, Knepper and Strickland rounded out the "top-five." In Thursday's Belleville prelim, the 500th race in USAC's Western MCI WorldCom Series history, Darland was trailed by Knepper, who led the first 21 laps, Jerry Coons, jr., A.J. Fike and Doty.

MCI WORLDCOM/USAC NATIONAL MIDGET CAR STANDINGS

1.      Jason Leffler           240             6.      Dave Darland    128
2.      Ryan Newman             191             7.      Jay Drake       119
3.      Jerry Coons, Jr.        178             8.      Brian Gerster   111
4.      Ricky Shelton           151             9.      Clay Klepper    111
5.      Tracy Hines             135             10.     A.J. Fike       109

MCI WORLDCOM/USAC WESTERN MIDGET CAR STANDINGS

1.      Marc DeBeaumont 414             6.      Steve Paden     221
2.      Shane Scully    320             7.      Rick Hendrix    154
3.      Alex Harris     311             8.      Clay Klepper    152
4.      Bobby Boone     285             9.      Bryan Stanfill  143
5.      Wally Pankratz  230             10.     Jason Leffler   139

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Series USAC
Drivers Jason Leffler , Ryan Newman , Dave Darland , J.J. Yeley , Tracy Hines , Jay Drake , A.J. Fike , Steve Paden , Jerry Coons , Wally Pankratz , Clay Klepper , Brian Gerster , Bryan Stanfill , Scott Hatton , Rick Hendrix , Ricky Shelton