The long trip to the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway did not go as Jonathan Davenport had hoped. Instead of having a chance to win the $50,000 first prize and collect yet another crown jewel trophy, the driver of the No. 49 Longhorn Chassis and current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series standings leader found himself in his hauler and heading back to his shop well before the feature race had begun in New Richmond, WI. And with a long ride ahead, the 35-year-old racer took to Twitter to express his displeasure with the format used to set the field for that race.
In particular, Davenport was dismayed by the use of passing points as the means for setting the starting lineup. After suffering significant damage to their car during the preliminary action, the Lance Landers-owned team opted to leave Cedar Lake rather than use a backup car in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series-sanctioned event. With the North-South 100 at Kentucky’s Florence Speedway set for next weekend, Davenport and crew believed it served them better to return to their shop and repair the damaged car instead of running the risk or hurting a second car with a LOLMDS points-paying race coming in the very near future.
The use of passing points rather than qualifying and standard heat racing has become more common over the past few years with some of the bigger races such as the USA Nationals, North-South 100 and Silver Dollar Nationals using some form of the system. The format typically calls for drivers to draw for position in order to set the alignments for two sets of heat races. Drivers then score points based on the number of cars they pass in their two heats. The driver with the most points starts from the pole in the feature and so on.
While riding home in his hauler, Davenport invited fans to offer their views on the subject of the passing points format.
“Passing points is a terrible format for high paying profile races. At the pinnacle of our sport events the teams that put in countless hours to make their car the best shouldn’t be handicapped. Anyone want to argue go ahead & reply I’ve got an 18 hour ride to the jig,” the frustrated Davenport began.
After being asked just what the format entails, Davenport replied,
“You draw a pill for ur position in first set of heats then that number is inverted for the second set. But some have different point formulas for finishing vs passing positions. It’s a more favorable way to have stacked heats and easy heats.”
Davenport was asked why he opted to attend the race knowing the format was one he was not in favor of. He insisted that he is not the only driver to take exception to the passing points format.
“Yes I know but that doesn’t mean I can’t say what I think and what most drivers will agree with”
He then added after a fan stated that this is the first time he had heard any complaints regarding the format.
“I’ve never liked it just like most of the drivers and owners but someone has to speak up”
When asked what format he prefers, Davenport offered up two examples.
“For big high profile races either eldora format (maybe less inverts) or like fairbury for the pdc.”
And finally, Davenport made an even bigger point when he said that drivers and teams are left with little to no recourse when they disagree with formats used by tracks and/or series.
“Possibly but who knows. This isn’t about me wrecking it’s about all the drivers and the team owners not having a voice in our sport.”
There was much more to the discussion so checking out @TheFast49 on Twitter will provide more information.
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