Jonathan Davenport is a great Dirt Late Model driver. He has plenty of success in the record books to confirm that.
Kevin Rumley is a great Dirt Late Model engineer and crew chief. He has plenty of success in the record books to confirm that.
However, with these two men having achieved their greatest successes together, some pundits have taken to message boards and social media to pose the question asking which of them was most responsible for the wins and championships. Was it Davenport’s driving or Rumley’s engineering that led to their remarkable achievements?
At the end of the 2018 season it was announced that Rumley would leave the No. 49 team to re-form his K&L Rumley team along with his father, Lee Roy Rumley. They will employ reigning World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion and two-time Knoxville Late Model Nationals winner Mike Marlar as their driver in 2019.
Another great racing combination will likely face the same type of questions as driver Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus have been separated after a highly successful run together in NASCAR that resulted in seven championships and 83 victories for Hendrick Motorsports.
(Please consider reading “Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus looking to find success separately”)
These types of questions are not new in the world of sports. After all, with the Super Bowl coming up this weekend, people have often pondered whether New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick would have as many championship rings without quarterback Tom Brady. Or, would Brady be regarded as one of the all-time great passers in NFL history if he didn’t play within that coach’s system?
The answer with Davenport and Rumley, just like with Johnson & Knaus or Belichick & Brady, is that each has made the other great. But in the end, they are all great in their own right.
All that said, should Davenport get off to a hot start with his Lance Landers-owned team during the early portion of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series schedule there will without doubt be posts on social media and message boards claiming that it was he who was the key ingredient in earning those two LOLMDS titles and all those crown jewel wins.
Conversely, if Rumley immediately makes trips to victory lane with Marlar steering his car there will be some who will claim that it was his engineering and setups that propelled Davenport into the winner’s circle.
Davenport won two Southern Nationals titles and numerous feature races while driving for Barry Wright before he ever linked up with Rumley. And, Rumley worked successfully with other drivers throughout his racing career, but without a doubt, his greatest achievements have come with Davenport involved.
In 2015 the duo experienced what was probably the greatest season in Dirt Late Model history. Then again in 2017 when they were reunited with car owner G.R. Smith they won the Hillbilly 100 and the World 100. Their 2018 partnership on the Landers effort, this time with Rumley serving as chief engineer, led to a second Lucas Oil title and 13 feature victories.
Davenport has a very strong support system around him with his current team. Rumley has the pieces in place with Marlar to win races. And more, Rumley will still be involved with Longhorn Chassis, which Davenport’s No. 49 team will continue to campaign so there will still likely be some sharing of information.
Still, both coming out of the gate strong in 2019, which would surprise no one, will help to prevent some annoying questions.
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