Jonathan Davenport has won a lot of crown jewel races over the course of his career but the Lucas Oil Knoxville Late Model Nationals had not been one of them until Sunday afternoon. The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series-sanctioned race had to run a day later than planned because of weather conditions the night before. In the end, the driver known as ‘Superman’ checked off another big race win.
The Longhorn Chassis driver from Blairsville, Georgia earned a hefty $50,000 from the track located in Knoxville, Iowa in a race shown live by FloRacing.com and MavTV.
The top-24 for the feature starting lineup were set from points earned in the preliminary features held on Thursday and Friday nights.
B-main Results: 1. Tyler Erb, 2. Daniel Hilsabeck, 3. Ross Robinson, 4. Justin Duty, 5. Daulton Wilson, 6. Matt Furman
Feature Starting Lineup: 1. Bobby Pierce, 2. Jonathan Davenport, 3. Tyler Bruening, 4. Ricky Thornton Jr., 5. Earl Pearson Jr., 6. Chris Simpson, 7. Shane Clanton, 8. Brandon Overton, 9. Tim McCreadie, 10. Jimmy Owens, 11. Brandon Sheppard, 12. Kyle Strickler, 13. Hudson O’Neal, 14. Ricky Weiss, 15. Spencer Hughes, 16. Ryan Gustin, 17. Tad Pospisil, 18. Aaron Marrant, 19. Chase Junghans, 20. Brian Shirley, 21. Garrett Alberson, 22. Mike Marlar, 23, Justin Zeitner, 24. Spencer Diercks, 25. Tyler Erb, 26. Daniel Hilsabeck, 27. Ross Robinson, 28. Justin Duty, 29. Daulton Wilson, 30. Matt Furman
Feature Re-cap: Officials opted to shorten the race from the originally scheduled 75 laps to 50 laps.
When the 50-lap feature got underway, it was Davenport who went to the early lead ahead of Pierce, Bruening, Pearson and Thornton. On the second circuit, Thornton got around Pearson to grab fourth.
Pierce took the lead from Davenport on lap 9 as the lead duo worked through slower traffic as Bruening closed in as well. The first yellow flag of the day waved when Zeitner stopped on track after 9 laps. On the restart, Bruening passed Davenport for the runner-up spot while Pearson regained fourth.
The stalled car of O’Neal brought out another caution on lap 10. Under that yellow, leader Pierce pulled off track and into the pit area to retire his machine. When green flag action resumed, Bruening assumed the lead with Pearson, Davenport McCreadie and Thornton trailing.
On lap 13, LOLMDS points leader pulled off the track with smoke trailing from his car.
Bruening had built an advantage of just over one second until a caution came out on lap 19 when Marrant slowed. That restart allowed Davenport to move back into second with Bruening continuing to lead. Further back, Sheppard took fourth away from Thornton.
Another yellow flag waved for Simpson when he stopped on track on lap 21. Pearson returned to second dropping Davenport to third with Bruening leading the way. Weiss moved into the top-5 on the restart as well.
Just after the halfway mark, Bruening pulled out to a lead of more than two seconds with Pearson, Davenport and Sheppard running in tight formation for positions 2-4. Those three competitors then closed in on Bruening with 15 laps remaining.
With 10 to go, Pearson and Davenport exchanged second with Pearson holding the spot as those two ran just in front of Sheppard and Weiss. However, Davenport would finally take second on lap 43.
Davenport swept by Bruening to claim the lead on lap 47 as he sought another big victory. Eventually, the driver known as Superman would score his first Knoxville Nationals victory.
“I wish I could say I planned like that,” Davenport said in victory lane. “We was just really too tight right there. We didn’t have the best race car by far. I made a mistake, first in lapped traffic, I thought I could roll them on the outside and I let Bobby around me. Then I went to the bottom because I thought that might be better and I let Tyler around me and me and earl raced there. I was trying to race Earl as clean as I could but I knew I had to get by him.
“I got a big run on Tyler there going into one and I could have blasted on in there but I knew this was going to be his first crown jewel and i didn’t want to take it away from him like that,” the race winner added. “I finally said the hell with it and started just going to the top and spinning the hell out of it. That’s normally not my style but that’s what you’ve got to do at Knoxville, even in the sun.”
Feature Results: 1. Jonathan Davenport, 2. Tyler Bruening, 3. Brandon Sheppard, 4. Ricky Thornton Jr., 5. Earl Pearson Jr., 6. Ricky Weiss, 7. Shane Clanton, 8. Spencer Hughes, 9. Brandon Overton, 10. Kyle Strickler, 11. Garrett Alberson, 12. Brian Shirley, 13. Tyler Erb, 14. Chase Junghans, 15. Tad Pospisil, 16. Daulton Wilson, 17. Daniel Hilsabeck, 18. Ross Robinson, 19. Justin Duty, 20. Chris Simpson, 21. Mike Marlar, 22. Ryan Gustin, 23. Aaron Marrant, 24. Spencer Diercks, 25. Tim McCreadie, 26. Bobby Pierce, 27. Hudson O’Neal, 28. Matt Furman, 29. Justin Zeitner, 30. Jimmy Owens
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