CONCORD, N.C. (Nov. 6) — If there were any questions about his relationship with the Dirt Track at Charlotte, Jonathan Davenport provided a clear answer in Saturday’s NGK NTK World Finals finale.
Pulling away from a back-and-forth mid-race battle with upset-minded teen Garrett Smith of Eatonton, Ga., Davenport dominated the second half of Saturday’s 40-lap World Finals feature to compete a sweep of the Late Model portion of the mega weekend that concluded the season for the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series.
“I love this place,” Davenport said of the pristine Charlotte facility located just across the street from Charlotte Motor Speedway. “This is the racing capital of the world.”
In making the racing capital of the world his personal playground for the weekend, Davenport left no doubt who was the event’s dominant car with his second-half performance in both of the weekend’s 40-lap WoO features. But just like his victory in Friday night's weekend opener, Davenport’s win on Saturday didn’t come without some adversity.
After roaring from sixth to third on the race’s opening lap, Davenport's Double L Motorsports Longhorn Chassis settled in behind early leader Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., and the second-running Smith. Just after Smith took the lead from Sheppard on lap nine, Davenport picked up the pace and also moved by Sheppard to take second on lap 10.
Quickly tracking down Smith, Davenport then used a turn-three slidejob to take the lead from Smith on lap 12 and appeared as though he might headed toward an easy victory. But his work wasn’t quite finished yet.
On lap 16, Davenport had trouble lapping the slower machine of Jason Covert, allowing Smith to briefly edge ahead off turn four and lead Davenport but just a few feet at the start-finish line. Davenport pulled back ahead of Smith exiting turn two, but he again struggled to pass Covert in turns three and four and spun the slower driver to bring out a caution.
Because Smith had beaten Davenport across the line on the previous lap, he was moved ahead of Davenport for the ensuing restart.
But the self-inflicted setback proved little challenge to Davenport. Jumping to the high side when the race went back green, he got a strong run exiting turn two on lap 21 and completed the winning pass in turn three.
Davenport ran unchallenged from there, opening more than a straightaway gap over Smith before the race’s final caution with two laps remaining cut his lead to a more modest advantage. The 18-year-old Smith settled for second, while Sheppard closed out his fourth straight championship-winning season on the World of Outlaws with a third-place finish. Eleventh-starting Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., was fourth with third-starting Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., rounding out the top five.
“I gave the lead away being a little too patient with the lapped cars and then I didn’t even mean to hook (Covert) there,” Davenport said of the miscue in traffic that cost him the lead on lap 16. “I was just trying to get up close enough to him to the wall so I could get to the outside of him getting into turn one, but I just barely hooked his quarter-panel and turned him right around.
“I knew the 10 had beaten me the previous lap and I thought, ‘Oh no, what are we gonna do here?’ But I just kept trying that top down there. It got me to third and almost to second on the first lap. Everybody kind of went for the rubber (after the lap-16 restart) and I just blasted the top. It stuck somehow.”
Smith, a Super Late Model rookie making his first appearance at Charlotte at the World Finals, impressed in Saturday’s prelims with the fastest time in the second of the night’s two qualifying groups and an easy heat race victory. After taking the the lead from Sheppard, he appeared to perhaps be headed for an upset victory until Davenport dropped him to second.
“The heat race win felt pretty good, but leading those laps couple of laps right there felt amazing,” Smith said of his breakout performance in his Cody Mallory-wrenched Rocket Chassis. “It feels really good to come up here this weekend and have speed all weekend. It’s fun racing with these guys. Racing with them, you see how they race you and just learn from them.”
Notes: Twenty-one of the race’s 25 starters were running at the finish with 18 cars on the lead lap. … The race was slowed by four cautions. The first was for Covert’s spin after contact from Davenport on lap 12. … The second caution waved on lap 19 when contact between Chris Ferguson and Tyler Erb sent Ferguson spinning up the track and into the turn-one wall. Ferguson was OK, but his car was heavily damaged. … The third caution came on the ensuing restart when Kyle Strickler, Ricky Weiss and Josh Richards all tangled in turn one. … Covert slowed to cause the final caution with two laps remaining.
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Garrett Smith
Row 2: Chris Madden, Kyle Strickler
Row 3: Tyler Erb, Jonathan Davenport
Row 4: Ricky Weiss, Josh Richards
Row 5: Scott Bloomquist, John Blankenship
Row 6: Tim McCreadie, Chris Ferguson
Row 7: Nick Hoffman, Bryan Bernheisel
Row 8: Jimmy Owens, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 9: Brandon Overton, Tyler Bruening
Row 10: Austin Kirkpatrick, Max Blair
Row 11: Ashton Winger, Ross Robinson
Row 12: Ryan Gustin, Boom Briggs
Row 13: Jason Covert
Consolation race results
(10 laps; top three transfer)
First consolation: Brandon Overton, Austin Kirkpatrick, Ashton Winger, Ryan Gustin, Colton Flinner, Brent Larson, Brian Shirley, Cody Overton, Pancho Lawler, Tim Vance, Derek Rogers, Gary Dillon, Steven Roberts, Cla Knight, Brian Ledbetter.
Second consolation: Tyler Bruening, Max Blair, Ross Robinson, Jesse Glenz, Blake Spencer, Jason Covert, Dan Stone, Ryan King, Dustin Mitchell, Bryson Harper, Dylan Lewis, Boom Briggs, Chris Nash, Benji Hicks, Mike Lupfer.
Heat race results
(eight laps; top four transfer)
First heat: Brandon Sheppard, Jonathan Davenport, Scott Bloomquist, Nick Hoffman, Brandon Overton, Austin Kirkpatrick, Ryan Gustin, Colton Flinner, Cody Overton, Tim Vance, Pancho Lawler, Brian Ledbetter.
Second heat: Kyle Strickler, Josh Richards, Tim McCreadie, Jimmy Owens, Ashton Winger, Brian Shirley, Steven Roberts, Brent Larson, Gary Dillon, Derek Rogers, Cla Knight.
Third heat: Garrett Smith, Ricky Weiss, John Blankenship, Bryan Bernheisel, Max Blair, Boom Briggs, Jason Covert, Dan Stone, Bryson Harper, Blake Spencer, Ryan King, Mike Lupfer.
Fourth heat: Chris Madden, Tyler Erb, Chris Ferguson, Dennis Erb Jr., Tyler Bruening, Ross Robinson, Jesse Glenz, Benji Hicks, Dustin Mitchell, Dylan Lewis, Chris Nash.
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
- Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 15.627
- Kyle Strickler (8), Mooresville, N.C., 15.639
- Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 15.829
- Josh Richards (14), Shinnston, W.Va., 15.925
- Nick Hoffman (2), Mooresville, N.C., 15.935
- Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 15.983
- Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 16.021
- Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.027
- Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa, 16.064
- Ashton Winger (12), Hampton, Ga., 16.144
- Austin Kirkpatrick (11), Ocala, Fla., 16.242
- Steven Roberts (111), Jesup, Ga., 16.295
- Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 16.358
- Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 16.483
- Colton Flinner (48), Allison Park, Pa., 16.545
- Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 16.598
- Cody Overton (91), Evans, Ga., 16.708
- Cla Knight (42), North Augusta, S.C., 16.917
- Tim Vance (17T), Clover, S.C., 17.090
- Gary Dillon (K7), Elm City, N.C., 17.276
- Pancho Lawler (93), Glenville, Pa., 17.475
- Derek Rogers (23), Spelter, W.Va., 17.535
- Brian Ledbetter (07), Dallas, N.C., no time
- Garrett Smith (10), Eatonton, Ga., 15.811
- Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., 15.873
- Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 15.896
- Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 15.915
- John Blankenship (23), Williamson, W.Va., 16.095
- Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, 16.113
- Bryan Bernheisel (119), Jonestown, Pa., 16.206
- Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.245
- Jason Covert (72), York Haven, Pa., 16.247
- Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 16.258
- Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.330
- Ross Robinson (7), Georgetown, Del., 16.348
- Ryan King (1G), Seymour, Tenn., 16.357
- Dustin Mitchell (32), Pine Level, N.C., 16.372
- Max Blair (111), Centerville, Pa., 16.499
- Benji Hicks (55), Mount Airy, N.C., 16.520
- Dan Stone (2), Thompson, Pa., 16.526
- Jesse Glenz (99), Chippewa Falls, Wis., 16.531
- Bryson Harper (20H), Forest City, N.C., 16.837
- Dylan Lewis (44), Oakland, Md., 16.879
- Mike Lupfer (O6), Shermansdale, Pa., 17.108
- Chris Nash (354), Vicksburg, Mich., 17.126
- Blake Spencer (6s), St. Augustine, Fla., 17.290
1 p.m. - Opening ceremonies
On-track action begins
- WoO Sprint Car hot laps
- WoO Sprint Car qualifying
- Big-block modified hot laps
- WoO Late Model hot laps
- Big-block modified qualifying
- WoO Late Model qualifying
- WoO Sprint Car heat races (8 laps)
- WoO Late Model heat races (10 laps)
- Big-block modified heat races (8 laps)
- Track maintenance (if needed)
- WoO Late Model redraw
- WoO Sprint Car C-main (10 laps - if necessary)
- WoO Sprint Car Dash (6 laps)
- WoO Sprint Car B-main (12 laps)
- WoO Late Model consolations (10 laps)
- Big-block modified consolations (10 laps)
- WoO Sprint Car feature (30 laps)
- Super DIRTcar Series big-block modified feature (40 laps)
- WoO Late Model feature (50 laps)