The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series concluded its two-race weekend on Saturday night at the North Georgia Speedway. At the end of the night it would be Jonathan Davenport who would leave the Chatsworth, GA facility with the $12,000 first prize in a race that was filled with plenty of high speed excitement and rough and tumble action.
Ross Bailes led the way in Group A qualifying with a lap of 12.260 seconds around the third-mile clay oval. That time bettered the efforts of Dale McDowell, Josh Richards and Kyle Bronson in that group.
David Payne was the fastest in Group B time-trials and overall when he completed a lap in 12.236 seconds to beat out Jonathan Davenport, Aaron Ridley and Will Roland.
Josh Richards earned the pole position for the feature by winning the first heat race ahead of Don O’Neal, Billy Moyer, Jr. and Michael Page while Dale McDowell took the second preliminary of the night ahead of Devin Moran, Hudson O’Neal and Shanon Buckingham.
David Payne was designated as the outside front row starting position after he won the night’s third heat over Tim McCreadie, Jacob Hawkins and Aaron Ridley just before Jonathan Davenport beat out Tyler Erb, Ryan King and Earl Pearson, Jr. in the fourth and final heat race.
Jason Jameson and Stormy Scott won the two B-main races used to set the remainder of the starting lineup for the main event.
At the start of the 50-lap feature it was Payne who blasted out to the early lead with Davenport, McDowell, Don O’Neal and Moran following close behind. Richards, who had started on the front row used a hard charging slide job maneuver going into the first turn in hopes of gaining the lead. However, Payne countered with a crossover move coming off of turn two which resulted in a side-by-side battle down the back stretch. As the cars went through turns three and four, Richards suddenly went sideways causing him to slow down and lose several positions.
The first of what would eventually be ten caution flags waved on lap 6 with Payne leading over Davenport, Moran, Hawkins, Richards, Don O’Neal and Billy Moyer, Jr.
Numerous drivers would experience trouble in one form or another throughout the night. McDowell, King, Owens, Hawkins, Kyle Bronson, and even early race leader Payne would be among those who would suffer misfortune over the course of the race and end up being a part of one or more of those cautions.
Davenport took the lead from Payne just after one of the restarts. Unfortunately, Payne would come to a stop on the track at the halfway mark just after having passed Moran to reclaim the second position behind Davenport.
A furious race for positions within the back half of the top-10 highlighted the early portion of the race’s second half with Richards, Moyer, Pearson and Hudson O’Neal taking part in that multi-car scramble.
Erb looked as is he might be a contender for the win as he moved into second after getting by Moran on lap 35. However, trouble would befall him just two laps later as he had to come to the attention of his crew and then restart from the rear of the pack.
After the various issues for other drivers played out, Clint Bowyer Racing teammates Don O’Neal and Josh Richards found themselves as the closest pursuers of Davenport as the laps clicked off. However, neither was able to mount a series charge which left Davenport to sail under the checkered flag to collect the win.
Feature Finish: 1. Jonathan Davenport, 2. Don O’Neal, 3. Josh Richards, 4. Devin Moran, 5. Earl Pearson, Jr., 6. Hudson O’Neal, 7. Billy Moyer, Jr., 8. Tim McCreadie, 9. Tyler Erb, 10. Will Roland, 11. Kyle Bronson, 12. Ryan King, 13. Jimmy Owens, 14. David Payne, 15. Jacob Hawkins, 16. Dale McDowell, 17. Stormy Scott, 18. Aaron Ridley, 19. Andrew Littleton, 20. Shanon Buckingham, 21. Michael Page, 22. Jason Jameson, 23. Cla Knight, 24. Dalton Polston