Jonathan Davenport’s name is easily one of the most recognizable in all of Dirt Late Model racing. After all, the Blairsville, GA native just secured his third career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series championship and he has won just about every big race there is to win in the sport. And at the age of 36, there could very well be plenty more wins to come in a profession that often sees its competitors still active and productive well into their forties and beyond.
With as much as he has already accomplished, Davenport has certainly established quite a legacy within the history of the dirt racing no matter what happens from here on out.
“No, I don’t,” Davenport replied when asked if his legacy is something he thinks about. “I’m always looking for the ones I haven’t won yet and there’s still plenty of them out there. I won’t be satisfied until I win them all, and if I get lucky enough to do that, I’m sure that won’t be enough either. That’s what keeps driving us and keeps us working hard.”
The husband and father also takes a practical approach to his racing career.
“This is what I do for a living,” Davenport explained in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “As long as I’m winning I’m putting food on the table. Me and Scott(Bloomquist) were talking last night and it’s like once you get to a certain point the expectations go up so that’s just added pressure. We just keep working hard and keep striving for more because you never know.”
Even with the success he has already achieved and the many feature wins he has compiled, the challenge of racing on dirt is unending. And the driver often referred to as ‘Superman’ by fans and track announcers enjoys taking on each and every situation as it comes.
“Every race is always different and it’s different situations every time you’re out there,” the winner of 17 feature races in 2019 pointed out. “You just try to make the right decisions when you’re faced with adversity and faced with different challenges. It’s always ‘last year I did this and I did that and I did win or I didn’t win’. Like with the championships or a race, if you won last year you want to do it again so it’s just a never ending cycle and it won’t ever be enough.”
Davenport admits that the pressure of racing at such a high level can be intense. However, his Lance Landers-owned team has the pieces in place that allow the driver to step away from time-to-time so that he can be more focused on the task at hand when he is on the track. Crew chief Jason Durham along with crew members Tyler Breashears and Matt Langston keep the No. 49 Longhorn Chassis well maintained so that its performance can be optimized each time it is entered in an event.
Having quality people in place affords Davenport the opportunity to get away and enjoy his favorite hobbies. When not racing, the driver can sometimes be found fishing or hunting to help take his mind off of the last race or the next race.
“It really does,” Davenport responded when asked if his activities away from the track help him when he returns to racing after some time away. “I think I’m more relaxed when I get back to the track. Sometimes I get so involved with the cars but the last couple of years I’ve got to step away and let Jason and Tyler and Matt do their jobs with me taking on more of a role just from the driver standpoint. I’m not worried about did I tighten this bolt or did I do everything physically and mechanically perfect. I don’t have that weighing on me. It definitely helps to get away from week-to-week and to allow other people to do their jobs. That’s what they’re here for and it frees me up to do my one job.”
This three-time series champion and three-time World 100 winner is not very far removed from another time when he was racing regionally with chassis guru Barry Wright. And he still fondly remembers those days.
“I thought it was so cool when I got a chance to drive for Barry Wright,” the two-time Southern Nationals champion recalled. “We could go down the schedule and we would pick whatever paid the most that weekend and that’s where we would go. I thought that was so cool and now being able to follow a series and win titles and crown jewel events, I never thought I really could ever get here.”
Davenport has been able to savor victories in races such as the Dirt Late Model Dream, USA Nationals, North-South 100 and the Show-me 100 just to name a few. He has experienced the highest of highs this sport has to offer and is constantly striving for even more.
He and wife Rachel are the parents of a young son, Blane. So knowing of the rewards that can come along with racing but also knowing the difficulties that can be experienced in chasing those rewards, Davenport has mixed emotions regarding whether or not he would like his son to climb into a race car.
“For right now, I’d rather for him to look for something else to do,” Davenport declared. “This is a very expensive sport that we do and I’ve been really fortunate over the years to have great car owners. I haven’t owned my own stuff in a really long time. It takes a big pocketbook to do this at this level and to make money.
“Nowadays there are so many people trying to make a living doing it and I think that’s the reason there are so many races you can schedule across the country because there are so many cars that are going to go to these bigger shows. I would like for Blane to do it, maybe, if he wants to, but I’m not going to push him toward it. I want him to get an education and he’s got to learn how to work on them like I did before he just jumps in a drivers seat.”
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