A Darne good evening

Mike Darne and defending champion Dustin Storm each took home victories in twin-50-lap races in Late Models at Old Dominion Speedway Saturday night.

It was Darne’s fourth win of the year and Storm’s second. Darne, however, was the night’s big winner. In one of the most dramatic turnarounds in track history, Darne captured the points lead after leader Mark McFarland finished two laps down in the first race and had a flat tire in the second race.

Darne is now eight points ahead of McFarland.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Darne referring to his taking over the points lead with a win and a second-place finish Saturday. “I couldn’t be more tickled. We couldn’t have done any more tonight. We got the pole, the points lead and a win. But I hate to see this happen to Mark [McFarland]. But we’ve had our bad luck this year and it just all came together tonight.”

In the first race, Dustin Storm grabbed the lead from rookie driver Matt Bucher in the backstretch on lap one. McFarland then attempted to pass Bucher for second going into turn three of lap 10 but got into the rookie driver. Bucher lost control and spun in front of McFarland who then crashed into Bucher’s car.

McFarland had extensive sheet metal damage and could not get out of the pits and wound up going two laps down, losing 40 points to Darne. McFarland led Darne by only eight points going into the second contest.

On the restart after the wreck, Darne was able to move from fourth to second, finishing there behind Storm. Franklin Butler was third, Mike Southard fourth and Brian Jenkins fifth.

Coming into the twin 50s, McFarland was the Atlantic Regional points leader, which carries a cash prize of over $40,000.

“I got [all the bad luck] in one night,” said McFarland. “But we’ve got three more races. We’ll go home and fix the car and we’ll bounce back.”

In the second twin 50, Danny Fair took the lead from Mike Southard in turn one of the first lap. In the same lap, Darne got around Southard for second. On lap 20, Darne wheeled by Fair in turn three to take first.

Fair, who finished second, said he wasn’t surprised to see Darne run so well.

“He ran good last week and a bunch better than everybody else here today,” said Fair, who finished sixth in the first race. “I knew Mike was going to be tough in the second race. But he drove me clean last week and I knew I was going to drive him clean this week.”

McFarland was running in sixth in lap 31 when one of his tires blew, which put the Winchester resident down a lap. Franklin Butler came in third, Storm fourth and Richard Boswell fifth.

In Grand Stocks, Jimmy Hardin collected his eighth win of the year. Hardin, who started fifth, got ahead of fourth-place Chris Donnelly and third-place runner Jack Crocker with a deft move going into turn three of the first lap. Hardin wasted no time in passing Tom Rice for second in turn one of lap four.

Hardin motored by Ron Jardine for the lead in turn four of lap seven. Donnelly was running in second by lap 15 but could make no progress on Hardin.

“I’ve always said that once we get in our groove that nobody can run with us,” said Hardin. “To win a race against Chris [Donnelly], it’s whoever is in front that’s going to win.”

In Mini Stocks, Tom Beckman snagged his first win in the division. Beckman, who started second, passed Vince Langan in turn four of the first lap for the lead. Beckman held on for the remainder of the race even as he was pressed by points-leader Sean Dawson. Dawson took second place after getting around Jeremy Wilson in turn one of lap 11.

Keith Machleit was third, Langan fourth and Colt White fifth. Beckman was surprised at the win after having motor problems this season.

“The way our luck’s been, it looks like it finally took a turn for the better,” said Beckman. “I was really happy [with the win].”

In Speedway Sportsman, Jamie De Mattio picked up his third win of the season. De Mattio, who started on the pole in Gus Pearson’s car, took the lead early and had a 15-car lead by lap 10. De Mattio maintained his lead while Jeff Pearson, Les Miranda, James Lucas and Jeff Sisak fought for position. Jeff Pearson finished second, Miranda third, Lucas fourth and Sisak fifth.

In Legends, Kyle Hendershott notched his second win of the season with an improbable come-from-behind victory. Hendershott started from the rear twice and finally picked his way through the field, frequently passing on the outside until he took over the lead from Mike Bryant on lap 24. Bryant was second, Kevin Yeatts third and Rick Bowman fourth.

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