Mike Darne picked up his first career Southern National Motorsports Park championship and his second career Late Model Stock Car championship this season.
Darne, 47, from Concord, North Carolina, won the track championship at Old Dominion Speedway in 2002. 2018 marked the first time the veteran racer has raced for a championship since then and, with four wins on the season, Darne was able to pick up the title at a track he has become very familiar with over the years.
“We really haven’t tried to run for a championship in quite a few years,” Darne said. “This is the first year I’ve really tried to run for points. It feels good to win the title. I wish we would have had more cars because we were pretty good down there this year. I hope we can show what we’ve really got in the Thanksgiving Classic.”
Darne is no stranger to winning championships at Southern National – just not as a driver. Darne won championships as a crew chief with Jonathan Findley in 2015, Mason Diaz in 2017 and also coached Andrew Grady to the Limited Late Model championship in 2018.
“When you run the same place a lot like we do, you get a lot of practice and a lot of time to really fine-tune your cars,” Darne explained. “That’s really what it boils down to. These guys who run every week, they build on that and get better and better as they go. That’s what we’ve done up at Southern National. We just built on it and we’ve got a setup on it that really works well.”
The championship came down to the final race of the season in a showdown between Darne and former Orange County Speedway track champion Terry Dease. Darne won the championship in fashion, by sweeping twin races on Championship Night.
“It was really exciting for me just because I’m so late in my career,” Darne remarked. “I never really thought I’d be running for any type of championship at 47-years-old. I’ll take it. For the team and everybody who helped me, it’s really good for those guys to experience something like that because it doesn’t happen very often.”
Darne concluded the season at the Thanksgiving Classic, finishing 14th. In the Limited Late Model portion of the race, Mike Darne Racing cars swept the top two spots with Adam Murray and Andrew Grady.