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East Alabama Motor Speedway

Madden tops Davenport, wins Bama Bash at EAMS

March 1, 2014, 11:31 pm
From staff reports
Chris Madden (44) holds off Jonathan Davenport (6). (Eric Gano)
Chris Madden (44) holds off Jonathan Davenport (6). (Eric Gano)

PHENIX CITY, Ala. (March 1) — Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., turned back a last-ditch challenge from polesitter Jonathan Davenport on Saturday at East Alabama Motor Speedway to capture the 17th annual Bama Bash.

The third-starting Madden, who regained the lead on lap 55 when hometown driver Terrance Nowell had fuel pickup problems, led half the 75-lap feature while earning $17,017 in the first National Dirt Racing League points event of the season. | Video | Slideshow | Prelims

Davenport, of Blairsville, Ga., made slight contact with Madden exiting turn four on the final lap but finished just behind the winner after leading the first 28 laps. Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., who started 20th, rallied to finish third followed by Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., and Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind.

Nowell, who started 21st in the 25-car field, made a fourth-to-second move around Davenport and Chris Ferguson on lap 43, then grabbed the lead from Madden on lap 46. But his engine wasn’t getting fuel during a lap-55 caution for Ferguson’s flat right-rear tire and his car was pushed off the track; he finished four laps down in 18th.

The caution-plagued event, which lasted 70 minutes, started with two major incidents. Outside front-row starter Steve Francis spun after contact with Davenport coming to the initial green flag and collected Bloomquist, Jimmy Mars, Tim Fuller, Bub McCool and Tim McCreadie. Mars was eliminated.

On the next start, not everyone completed the opening lap as Fuller and Tony Jackson Jr. tangled in turn four. With the cars hooked together, a red flag was thrown to untangle them, and Jackson’s race was over.

Besides Ferguson’s flat tire, among drivers drawing yellows for flat tires were McCool (lap 53), Billy Moyer (lap 51), Tim McCreadie (lap 39) and Kent Robinson (lap 22). Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., retired on the 19th lap while running in the top five.

Davenport led Madden early with Clanton taking the third spot from Robinson on the ninth lap. After Clanton’s departure and Robinson’s lap-22 flat, Davenport led Madden, Bloomquist, McCreadie and Ferguson back to green.

On lap 29, Madden muscled past Davenport after making contact in turn four, shuffling Davenport back to the fourth spot with Bloomquist and McCreadie moving into second and third.

“I felt like at that point of the race, we had the best opportunity,” Madden said. “My car was rolling real free through the corner, and I didn’t feel like I was using any tire and was able to get up beside him and get the pass without taking a chance on burning my tires up.”

Said Davenport: “Madden thought, you know, I guess my pace wasn’t fast enough, so anyway, he got into us a little bit. But hey, that’s just racing in the rubber."

Several cars pitted to change tires when McCreadie slowed for his lap-39 flat, and Nowell soon broke into the top five with an eye on the lead.

After overtaking Ferguson and Davenport, a lap-44 caution flew for Tom Maddox, and two laps later Nowell, the Bama Bash winner 11 years earlier at Green Valley Speedway, overtook Madden.

During a caution period nine laps later for Ferguson, Nowell lost power because of fuel cell issues. That handed the lead back to Madden with Davenport in second and 20 laps remaining.

Nowell said his demise was caused by an apparent problem with a recently purchased car.

“The fuel cell, I believe there’s something in the fuel cell going wrong, maybe the pickup or something, just getting some air,” he said.

Smith, who pitted on lap 22 to change tires, took second from Davenport and began challenging for the lead as Bloomquist, who also made an earlier tire change, broke back into the top five.

With Madden still in control in the late stages, Davenport regained second from Smith and began turning up the heat on the leader. Davenport threw everything he could at Madden, who held on for his first victory on the second-year NDRL tour.

“We made a run at him there at the end,” Davenport said. “I felt like we saved our stuff good enough. I just didn’t quite time it right. I was about a car-length too late.”

Notes: Madden’s Bloomquist Race Car is powered by a Clements Automotive Engine and sponsored by Century Plastics, Henderson Amusements, Cushman Paint & Body, Hamrick’s of Gaffney, Ohlins Shocks, Hypercoils and VP Fuels. … Madden notched his second victory of the season; he won Feb. 7 in Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series action at Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Ga. … Hometown driver William Thomas started the race with a brace on his left hand after having a growth removed recently; he retired after making one lap. ... Jimmy Mars drove Jason Krohn's backup car. ... The Bama Bash relocated to EAMS for its 17th edition after former home Green Valley Speedway closed last fall. .. More than 200 race cars entered among seven divisions for the weekend at EAMS. ... Montana Dudley of Phenix City, Ala., held off a hard-charging Josh Adkins of Talladega, Ala., for a $3,017 victory in the Crate Late Model portion of the program; Joe Armistead Jr. of Senoia, Ga., earned $3,017 in the Limited Late Model event. ... The NDRL returns to East Alabama Nov. 1-2 for the 40th annual National 100.

Bama Bash: (1) Chris Madden, (2) Jonathan Davenport, (3) Clint Smith, (4) Scott Bloomquist, (5) Don O'Neal, (6) Ray Cook, (7) Tom Maddox, (8) Dennis Erb Jr., (9) Bub McCool, (10) Billy Moyer, (11) Chris Ferguson, (12) Max Blair, (13) Kent Robinson, (14) Tim Fuller, (15) John Blankenship, (16) Billy Moyer Jr., (17) Mason Zeigler, (18) Terrance Nowell, (19) Mike Benedum, (20) Tim McCreadie, (21) Steve Francis, (22) Shane Clanton, (23) William Thomas, (24) Tony Jackson Jr., (25) Jimmy Mars. Fast qualifier (among 38 cars): 14.949 seconds. Heat race winners: Madden, Davenport, Francis, Robinson. Consolation winners: Erb, Benedum. Provisional starters: Thomas, Jackson, Blair.

Correction: Clarifies Terrance Nowell's demise.

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