When it comes to Dirt Late Model racing’s biggest stars, Jonathan Davenport is one of the most active on social media. The winner of multiple championships and crown jewel events graciously interacts with fans, sponsors, and media on Twitter giving his followers a look into his day-to-day life along with answering questions about racing and other topics. And easily, the most frequently asked questions he is asked to respond to have to do with his racing schedule.
The ‘Will you be at (insert track name here)?’ questions come in rapid fire fashion to the 38-year-old fan favorite.
So how does Davenport decide when and where he is going to race?
“It’s just a team decision between me, my car owner, and my guys,” Davenport told Insidedirtracing.com. “We just see what’s best for us. We talk to the race tracks and the promoters and look for whatever is best suited for us. We just want to have fun and keep our schedule open so if we want to go somewhere new, we can, or if we decide we want to take off that weekend, we’re not locked into something where we have to go.”
More goes into the decision of when and where to race than one might think. Of course, purse money, location of the track, and prestige of the event matter. But with multiple crew members and their families being impacted by the team’s racing schedule, other factors also play into those plans.
“I’m dealing with four or five different families here now(his own and crew member families) so if somebody’s birthday comes up or if somebody’s wife gets off and they want to go on vacation or something, we try to consider all that,” the three-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion pointed out. “We’re just going to try to make this a fun year. This is the best year to do it because there’s so much money available with other series and unsanctioned races so we’re just going to take it week by week.”
Among some of the events Davenport plans to take part in this season are many of the XR Super Series races as well as the traditional crown jewel shows. As he has already shown by missing some of the Georgia-Florida SpeedWeeks events of the early season, the driver of the No. 49 Lance Landers-owned Longhorn Chassis does not plan to take on the full Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series schedule in 2022.
“We do have a little bit of a schedule out there,” he explained. “Of course, most of it is tentative but there are a few that we’re going to try our best to be at. We’re not guaranteeing that we’re going to be at all of them or any of them but we’re going to try our best to make the ones that are on our schedule.”
The driver known as ‘Superman’ has no fewer than 17 races on his schedule that will pay at least $50,000-to-win. Not being locked into a particular schedule of races will allow his team to dedicate the bulk of their efforts to those more lucrative events.
As a result, Davenport’s hauler will rarely leave its shop for features paying less than $20,000. However, he did take part in races this past weekend at Smoky Mountain Speedway and Cherokee Speedway which paid $12,000 and $10,000-to-win respectively. The fact that his team just built a new car that needed to be tested and he wanted to support those two tracks played a role in his decision to race.
“100%,” Davenport agreed when asked if the focus on bigger races was part of his plan. “We’re focused on the big races. We weren’t going to come here but we built a brand new car and we know this place pretty good. We love supporting Roger Seller(SMS owner) and everything he does. We’ve got a $50,000-to-win race coming up here at Smoky Mountain later on in the year so this will give us a perfect test session for that. Obviously, Cherokee is another place and it’s a hometown track for me now. These are probably the least paying races that I’m going to go to over a weekend.
“For the rest of the year, when I leave home we’re going to race for 20 grand or more,” he added. “That’s what our sport has come to, which is awesome. We can take off a week or two to prepare for the $50,000, $100,000 and $1,000,000 race and really focus on those.”
Racing with a series has its advantages. Provisional starting positions and travel money are among those. But Davenport and his team believe it is worth the trade off for scheduling flexibility.
“Sure, it’s really not smart for me because just looking at percentages and things like that,” he admitted. “I’m guaranteed money to show up, I’m guaranteed a provisional. If it’s a $1,000-to-start race and Lucas gives $800 to show up, I’m guaranteed $1,800 to just roll it out of the trailer. If you go to a $5,000-to-win race you’ve got run at least third to get that money and you’re not guaranteed to do that. From that standpoint, it might not have been the best decision for me but I think we can have a better quality of races with less quantity.”
Other issues may also play a role in scheduling as the season plays out.
“We’re going to dial back our schedule and not try to run 100 races but we’ll still probably wind up running around 80 or so. But with the day and times we’re living in right now, I just paid $5 for diesel, and our parts are really hard to get right now. That’s the reason we didn’t run some of Florida. We’re not running $5,000 or $10,000 races because we want to keep our equipment fresh as we can for the bigger races at the end of the year.”
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