Dave Darland was the winner of the first Jason Leffler Award. It was presented to the popular racer during the United States Auto Club’s (USAC) Night of Champions awards dinner at the Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis, Ind., on December 13. The dinner coincided with the Performance & Racing Industry Show held at the nearby Indianapolis Convention Center.
Darland has competed in USAC racing over 25 years and has won many racing awards and championships. Darland was a friend of the Jason Leffler during the late racer’s USAC career. Leffler took USAC National championships in the Silver Crown Series in 1998 and the Midget Series in 1997-1999. He was killed in a racing accident in New Jersey last June.
USAC officials announced that the award will be presented annually at the Night of Champions dinner. The award honored Darland’s intense appreciation of motorsports history, his professionalism and his work as an ambassador of USAC goals. USAC officials said he “exhibited the same standard of ideals upheld by the late Jason Leffler during his USAC racing career.”
Darland is one of just five drivers recognized as USAC Triple Crown Champions. The others are Tony Stewart, J.J. Yeley, Pancho Carter and Jerry Coons Jr. Leffler was 1997 Silver Crown Champ, 1999 Sprint Car Champ and 2001-02 Midget King. He also won USAC’s inaugural Super License championship in 1999, earning more National points than any other driver.
Leffler also captured the Jimmy Caruthers Award in 2003, He ranks fourth all-time in terms of USAC National feature wins with 90 (including 47 in sprint cars). He ranks second behind Tom Bigelow’s 52 wins. Leffler has an all-time record of 551 USAC Sprint car starts that produced 142 podium finishes.