Sometimes luck is on your side and sometimes it displays just how fickle it can be.
On Friday night, Darland was leading the feature event at Bloomington Speedway coming off turn four with checkered flag in sight, his right rear tire exploded and Jon Stanbrough nipped him at the finish line for the victory.
On Champions Night at Lincoln Park Speedway, Darland once more was lightning quick, dominating his heat race and joining the feature along with Josh Cunningham, Patrick Bruns and 2005 sprint points champion, Kenny Carmichael Sr. who each won their heats.
From the green flag, Darland showed he was once again the man to beat, cruising out to a comfortable six car length lead over the first half of the race. However, he had some fast competition in his rearviewmirror.
Kent Christian rapidly joined the battle for a top three spot after starting ninth in the main event and perhaps the fastest car of all in Daron Clayton who blasted his way from 15th to sixth by the midpoint when a caution flew for Cunningham's mechanical difficulties.
Darland still held the point ahead of Carmichael Sr., Christian, A.J. Anderson and Bobby Stines.
On the restart, Darland got another good jump and held a solid lead as Christian flew low into turn two to get past Carmichael for the second spot. Behind them, Anderson moved up to challenge Carmichael and Clayton as Christian set his sights on reeling in Darland.
Christian started nibbling off chunks of Darland's lead heading into the final few laps. Mat Neely zipped into a top-five spot despite having to come from the rear of the field after getting bumped off course in the first couple of laps.
Neely was on a rail around the bottom and got past both Clayton and Carmichael for the third spot as Christian sidled up to Darland heading into the final lap. Heading into turns three and four, Darland slipped just a bit high which was the mistake Christian was looking for.
Coming off turn four, Christian got just enough bite to outrace Darland to the flagstand to end what was a masterful feature for many of the drivers.
Afterwards, Christian voiced what all drivers hold to be true.
"Dave had a little problem off turn four and it was just my turn tonight," commented the pilot of the Eagle Creek Nursery/Shelton Machinery ride. "Sometimes those things happen to you and occasionally they go your way. Tonight it was my turn."
Neely would come home third followed by Anderson and Clayton in fifth with Carmichael Sr., placing sixth and celebrating his points championship.
Carmichael wasn't done celebrating however as he also claimed the Super Stock points championship as well.
Fillmore's Kris Starks got a chance to do a little celebrating of his own as he battled to the wire in holding off last year's points champion, Doug McCullough, to take his first feature win at Lincoln Park Speedway.
Starks started from fifth place and used the first half of the race to get past Doug Arnold and set his sights on McCullough.
He would eventually chase down McCullough and draw even coming into the final couple of laps, running side-by-side into three and four to checkered flag. Starks would have just enough down the backstretch to outnose McCullough be a couple of feet at the flagstand for the win.
Dan McCullough was third followed by Arnold and Curt Leonard wrapping up the top-five. Carmichael finished off his points championship with a seventh place finish in the feature.
In UMP Modifieds, the final outcome once more wasn't decided until the final turn as Travis Shoulders held the point over the second half of the feature. However, Ray Humphrey, after slipping the cushion after leading early, reeled the competition in and got hooked up in turn four to beat Shoulders to the line for the victory.
Tom Russell, who announced he would be retiring from racing at the conclusion of Saturday's card, went out in style by running a fast third place ahead of 2005 points champion, Paul Bumgardner of Greencastle in the Spiker Excavating machine and Rob Brickert in fifth.
Afterwards, Humphrey talked about his car and his competition.
"This Franklin Racecar was real fast tonight. Travis (Shoulders) is really good and Tom (Russell) is one of my favorite guys to race against."
Bumgardner, who celebrated his 20th year of competition at the Putnamville oval, won his fourth points championship, three in modifieds and one in sportsman.
In the bomber class, Harry Shepherd was a familiar face in victory lane, but it was Lloyd Walls who just eked out the points championship to repeat as champion following his title in 2004.
Shepherd was followed to the line by Ron Wallen Sr. of Brazil, Arvis Shepherd, Walls and Travis Heramb.
The pits were full on Champions Night and the drivers did not disappoint their fans with perhaps the best show of the season. Thirty-seven sprints were on hand with 23 UMP Modifieds, 33 Super Stocks and 33 Bombers.
1. Kent Christian, 2. Dave Darland, 3. Mat Neely, 4. A.J. Anderson, 5. Daron Clayton, 6. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 7. Bobby Stines, 8. Jimmy Laser, 9. Jason Holt, 10. Chris Windom, 11. Brad Marvel, 12. Derek O'Dell, 13. Mitch Cunningham, 14. Aaron Mosley, 15. Doug Heck, 16. Kyle Nicholas, 17. Josh Cunningham, 18. Dusty Wright, 19. Patrick Burns, 20. Tim Creech II
B-main winner: Doug Heck
Heat winners: Josh Cunningham, Patrick Bruns, Dave Darland, Kenny Carmichael Sr.
Modified Feature 1. Ray Humphrey, 2. Travis Shoulders, 3. Tom Russell, 4. Paul Bumgardner, 5. Rob Brickert, 6. Wes McClara, 7. Jimmy Hayden, 8. Brad Robinson, 9. Rick Fulford, 10. Schuyler Nahre, 11. Harold Grayless, 12. Tom McKinney, 13. Wayne Cooper, 14. Jeff Wellum, 15. Gary Hall, 16. Garry Ricketts, 17. James Tumey, 18. Phil VanSant, 19. Carlos Bumgardner Sr., 20. Dan Lewellen, 21. Joey Cox, 22. Tom Black, 23. Troy Randall
Heat winners: Carlos Bumgardner Sr., Rick Fulford, Ray Humphrey
Super Stock Feature
1. Kris Starks, 2. Doug McCullough, 3. Dan McCullough, 4. Doug Arnold, 5. Curt Leonard, 6. Ben Williams, 7. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 8. Anthony Walker, 9. Jimmy Saunders, 10. Paul Wright, 11. Ray Bruce Jr., 12. Marty Cooper, 13. Jerry Donica, 14. Mark Dickerson, 15. Mike Wright Jr., 16. Karlie Holt, 17. tim Byrdwell, 18. Dennis Morgan, 19. Chris DeWeese, 20. Mike Vest, 21. Barry Gerkin
B-main winner: Mike Vest
Heat winner: Kris Starks, Chris DeWeese, Ben Williams
1. Harry Shepherd, 2. Ron Wallen Sr., 3. Arvis Shepherd, 4. Lloyd Walls, 5. Travis Heramb, 6. David Wallen, 7. Ritchie Hawkins, 8. Dave Byrdwell, 9. Jeff Shepherd, 10. Ron Smith, 11. Mark Stevens, 12. Gary Long Sr., 13. Tom Courtney, 14. David Daniels, 15. Ron Wallen Jr., 16. Joey Archer, 17. Stan Sandusky, 18. Shane Miller, 19. Doug Dunagan, 20. Joe Murphy, 21. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 22. Marlin Burns
B-main winner: Joey Archer
Heat winners: Shane Miller, Ritchie Hawkins, Kenny Carmichael Jr.