Jonathan Davenport is now $1,002,022 richer than he was when the day began. For the first time since 2001, a Dirt Late Model has offered a purse in which the winner received a paycheck with a seven-digit number on it. After rain interrupted the planned show for Wednesday, a full afternoon of racing then turned into a full night of action on the famed Eldora Speedway clay.
And that clay itself provided much of the story leading into the event as new dirt that had been laid down during the off-season was removed just days before the event.
Davenport had to fight off late challenges from Tim McCreadie and Chris Madden to earn the payday.
The Longhorn Chassis driver from Blairsville, Georgia was awarded the biggest single-day prize in the history of the sport at the historic facility in a race shown live by FloRacing.com.
A total of 124 cars were signed in for competition in both the A & B Groups combined.
The starting lineups for heat races were determined by points the drivers earned during the preliminary action held earlier in the day.
Heat 1 Results: 1. Chris Ferguson, 2. Mike Marlar, 3. Shannon Babb
Heat 2 Results: 1. Kyle Bronson, 2. Ricky Thornton Jr., 2. Spencer Hughes
Heat 3 Results: 1. Bobby Pierce, 2. Tim McCreadie, 3. Johnny Scott
Heat 4 Results: 1. Devin Moran, 2. Earl Pearson Jr., 3. Dennis Erb Jr.
Heat 5 Results: 1. Jonathan Davenport, 2. Darrell Lanigan, 3. Trent Ivey
Heat 6 Results: 1. Hudson O’Neal, 2. Gregg Satterlee, 3. Ricky Weiss
B-main 1 Finish: 1. Jimmy Owens, 2. Nick Hoffman
B-main 2 Finish: 1. Dale McDowell, 2. Brandon Sheppard
Feature Re-cap: At the start of the 101-lap feature race it was Davenport to the early lead trailed by Pierce, O’Neal, Moran and Ferguson. By the fourth lap Davenport had already built an advantage of almost three seconds as it looked as if the competitors were logging laps in the early going.
By lap 10, Davenport’s lead had extended to four seconds over Pierce, O’Neal, Moran and Ferguson. Moran took third away from O’Neal on lap 14 with Ferguson then moving in to challenge O’Neal. Three laps later, Ferguson would in fact take fourth from O’Neal as Davenport continued to dominated the early laps.
Moran moved around Pierce on lap 21 for second then Ferguson also got by Pierce soon thereafter. Further back, McCreadie entered the top-5 and looked to move up even further. Just before lap 30, McCreadie went around Ferguson for third while Madden entered the top-5 at the same time.
The race continued at a caution free pace with Davenport working slower traffic while maintaining a lead of just over three seconds. McCreadie, Madden and Ferguson rounded out the top-5 at that time.
McCreadie moved to second on lap 45 when he passed by Moran. By the halfway mark, Davenport had lapped up through 11th place in a feature that still had not seen a yellow flag.
On lap 60, second running McCreadie had cut Davenport’s lead to under three seconds as both cars continued working slower traffic. And that gap continued to shrink as Davenport’s lead was less than one second on lap 70.
With 25 circuits remaining, McCreadie was right on the rear spoiler of Davenport as they fought for the lead. Both cars ran right on the very bottom of the speed as they circulated in tight formation.
The first caution flag of the night came out on lap 83 when Owens slowed. By that time, only the cars of Davenport, McCreadie, Madden, Moran and Ferguson remained on the lead lap. McCreadie took the lead on the restart with Davenport staying close.
After McCreadie bobbled Davenport went back to the race lead one lap later then McCreadie again went to the top spot just before a caution came out with 15 laps to go for a flat tire on Satterlee.
Davenport went back to the lead following the lap 86 restart with McCreadie, Moran and Madden trailing. The No. 49 began to pull away again with 10 laps to go but a yellow flag came out one lap later when Weiss spun. That erased a lead of almost two seconds for Davenport.
Davenport pulled away after the lap 91 restart leaving McCreadie, Moran, Madden and Ferguson to battle over the other top-5 positions. McCreadie slowed with two laps to go as his right rear tire went flat bringing out a caution. The No. 39 returned with a fresh right rear and restarted from the fifth position.
But Davenport would not be denied as he fought off a slide job from Madden to earn the biggest payday in Dirt Late Model history.
“It ain’t really sunk in yet,” Davenport said in victory lane. “What a hell of a race. These guys gave me one hell of a race car. Me and Timmy, we’re good friends but when it comes to a million dollars, I wasn’t going to wreck him and he wasn’t going to wreck me either but we were going to race each other hard. Then Madden, me and him, we’ve had our differences growing up and I think we’ve finally put all of that behind us. For him to slide me and me to slide him back with one or two to go, it was a hell of a feeling.”
Feature Results: 1. Jonathan Davenport, 2. Chris Madden, 3. Devin Moran, 4. Tim McCreadie, 5. Chris Ferguson, 6. Dale McDowell, 7. Mike Marlar, 8. Kyle Bronson, 9. Brandon Sheppard, 10. Hudson O’Neal, 11. Bobby Pierce, 12. Earl Pearson Jr., 13. Ricky Weiss, 14. Spencer Hughes, 15. Dennis Erb Jr., 16. Johnny Scott, 17. Gregg Satterlee, 18. Darrell Lanigan, 19. Jimmy Owens, 20. Trent Ivey, 21. Shannon Babb, 22, Ricky Thornton Jr., 23. Nick Hoffman, 24. Shane Clanton
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