CONCORD, N.C. — Jonathan Davenport could only be slowed for a few seconds on Saturday night at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, and if there’s anything to know about the brief hold up, it didn’t occur on the racetrack.
“Man … I’m out of breath,” said Davenport, his victory lane interview stymied for a moment so he could legitimately catch his breath. "I hadn’t run the top that hard in a while.”
Indeed, Davenport evoked shades of his younger years that were prominent for his cushion-leaning, high-flying ways. There’s good reason Davenport’s nickname Superman has stuck for so long beyond the sheer knack for commonly winning the sport’s biggest races.
Davenport dominated the final 24 laps of Saturday’s 50-lap World Finals finale by virtue of exclusively using the top groove, which culminated in another cool payday of $25,000 and 4.019-second victory from the eighth starting spot over his closest competitor for much of the season in Chris Madden.
It’s the 22nd victory of Davenport’s dazzling season, and many of those victories have been aboard the same Longhorn Chassis the team’s employed most of the season.
“That thing’s been all over the country,” Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., said. “Whenever we break it out, time and time again it always performs. We was a night behind Thursday night over adjustments, but we still had a really good car. We were really good at the end of the race. It was just really hard to pass.”
Riding the momentum of back-to-back runner-ups, Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., figured to finally reach victory lane at Charlotte when he landed the pole, but the World of Outlaws regular never led a lap and eventually finished seventh.
It was Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., who led the early charge using the middle of a racetrack that had been blackened and polished off thanks to earlier features ran by the Super DIRTcar modifieds and World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink sprints.
O’Neal, who was on the threshold of winning his first weekend out in the Rocket Chassis house car, saw his one-second lead vaporize for a caution for Kyle Strickler on lap 19, and by then, Davenport was on the prowl in the fourth position.
Madden maintained second on the lap-19 restart, but that lasted not even five laps as Davenport blasted around May’s Colossal 100 winner at the 4/10-mile oval around the top and within reach of O’Neal.
Davenport then finished O’Neal off on lap 27 with a sweeping slider into turns one and two, which carried him back up to the cushion for the put-away run rounding the top of turns three and four. Madden got around O’Neal on lap 30 to regain second, two laps before a caution for Parker Martin that became an extended stoppage because of a brief rain shower.
But once the rain subsided, officials ultimately deemed the conditions safe enough to finish the final 18 laps. The extra moisture in the track didn’t seem to alter the outcome, either, as Davenport set sail while Madden and company were along for the ride.
“It didn’t really affect that much. It just laid the dust down a little bit,” Madden said. "It didn’t really effect the racetrack at all. We couldn't rip that lip like J.D. He was free enough to rip the lip up there. He got it done. We had a great race car. Hats off to those guys. Thanks to all of my sponsors.
“We came up one spot short this time. Overall, we had a great week. Had a water pump issue the first night, but rebounded good.”
The event’s preliminary winners, Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., and Tanner English of Benton, Ky., were both involved in separate incidents in their respective heat races earlier Saturday. English had actually raced door-to-door with Davenport in the early laps of the fourth heat until Davenport misjudged the space between him and the World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year.
Slight contact with Davenport sent English hard into the turn three wall, forcing English to fall back on a provisional for the 50-lap feature. Marlar, meanwhile, failed to qualify for the main event altogether.
“I did not mean to put him in the back straightaway wall. I felt bad all day about that,” Davenport said. “I offered to help give him parts, whatever I can do. It was a bad calculation on my part. I felt I gave him a little bit of room, but I just didn’t give him enough. He was gracious enough to not wreck me and turn me, but he wrecked himself. Anyway, I apologize to him and his team owner.”
Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., rounded out the podium in third and finally celebrated his first World of Outlaws title in the process.
“It’s just a lot of hard work; years of hard work, getting everything right this year and starting off real good,” Erb said of the keys that went into his first title. “We just had everything rolling throughout the year. We had our momentum up and had good finishes each night, staying up front and not having any failures.
“I think that was the key to keep plugging away each night. I know you ask me all the time if there’s pressure. No. It’s just hard work and going out racing each and every single night. … It means a lot. Just the years of going up and down the road, everything coming together this year. To be able to knock this off my list, it’s a big accomplishment for me.”
Row 1: Shane Clanton, Hudson O’Neal
Row 2: Chris Madden, Dale McDowell
Row 3: Dennis Erb Jr., Jimmy Owens
Row 4: Brandon Overton, Jonathan Davenport
Row 5: Parker Martin Jr., Ricky Weiss
Row 6: Tim McCreadie, Brent Larson
Row 7: Daulton Wilson, Tyler Erb
Row 8: Josh Richards, Scott Bloomquist
Row 9: Carson Ferguson, Trent Ivey
Row 10: Chris Ferguson, Mason Zeigler
Row 11: Ross Robinson, Kyle Strickler
Row 12: Max Blair, Ryan Gustin
Row 13: Tanner English, Gordy Gundaker
Row 14: Boom Briggs
Consolation race results
(10 laps; top two transfer)
First consolation: Chris Ferguson, Kyle Strickler, Garrett Smith, Anthony Sanders, Austin Kirkpatrick, Payton Freeman, Logan Zarin, Dustin Mitchell, John Price, Tim Vance, Freddie Carpenter. DNS: Brett Hamm, Ryan King, Gray Parton, Kyle Bronson, Mike Marlar, Cody Cubbage, Kevin Wilson.
Second consolation: Mason Zeigler, Max Blair, Ross Bailes, Colton Flinner, Brian Shirley, Cla Knight, Michael Brown, Tanner English, Trevor Gundaker, Taylor Puckett, Ethan Wilson, Brian Ledbetter, Larry Grube. DNS: Bryan Bernheisel, Greg Clark, Mike Benedum.
Third consolation: Ross Robinson, Ryan Gustin, Gordy Gundaker, John Blankenship, Zack Mitchell, Steven Roberts, Kenny Collins, Dale Hollidge, Boom Briggs, Jason Miller, Jordan Koehler, Mike Lupfer, Parker Price-Miller, Deak Bowen, Chuckie Lepsch, Brandon O’Neil.
Heat race results
(Eight laps; top three transfer)
First heat: Shane Clanton, Brandon Overton, Daulton Wilson, Chris Ferguson, Garrett Smith, Brett Hamm, Austin Kirkpatrick, Logan Zarin, Payton Freeman. DNS: Gray Parton, Kyle Bronson, Cody Cubbage.
Second heat: Dale McDowell, Parker Martin Jr., Josh Richards, Kyle Strickler, Anthony Sanders, Freddie Carpenter, Ryan King, Dustin Mitchell, John Price, Tim Vance, Mike Marlar, Kevin Wilson.
Third heat: Chris Madden, Tim McCreadie, Carson Ferguson, Max Blair, Ross Bailes, Cla Knight, Colton Flinner, Trevor Gundaker, Larry Grube. DNS: Bryan Bernheisel, Greg Clark.
Fourth heat: Jimmy Owens, Jonathan Davenport, Tyler Erb, Mason Zeigler, Brian Shirley, Michael Brown, Ethan Wilson, Taylor Puckett, Brian Ledbetter, Tanner English. DNS: Mike Benedum.
Fifth heat: Hudson O’Neal, Ricky Weiss, Scott Bloomquist, Gordy Gundaker, Zack Mitchell, John Blankenship, Dale Hollidge, Jordan Koehler, Mike Lupfer, Dean Bowen, Chuckie Lepsch.
Sixth heat: Dennis Erb Jr., Brent Larson, Trent Ivey, Ross Robinson, Ryan Gustin, Steven Roberts, Kenny Collins, Boom Briggs, Jason Miller, Parker Price-Miller, Brandon O'Neil.
(Eight laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Shane Clanton, Brandon Overton
Row 2: Daulton Wilson, Garrett Smith
Row 3: Chris Ferguson, Payton Freeman
Row 4: Brett Hamm, Austin Kirkpatrick
Row 5: Logan Zarin, Gray Parton
Row 6: Kyle Bronson, Cody Cubbage
Row 1: Mike Marlar, Dale McDowell
Row 2: Kyle Strickler, Josh Richards
Row 3: Dustin Mitchell, Ryan King
Row 4: Parker Martin, Anthony Sanders
Row 5: John Price, Freddie Carpenter
Row 6: Tim Vance, Kevin Wilson
Row 1: Tim McCreadie, Chris Madden
Row 2: Max Blair, Carson Ferguson
Row 3: Cla Knight, Ross Bailes
Row 4: Colton Flinner, Bryan Bernheisel
Row 5: Trevor Gundaker, Larry Grube
Row 6: Greg Clark
Row 1: Tanner English, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Tyler Erb, Jonathan Davenport
Row 3: Michael Brown, Brian Shirley
Row 4: Mason Zeigler, Ethan Wilson
Row 5: Taylor Puckett, Mike Benedum
Row 6: Brian Ledbetter
Row 1: Hudson O’Neal, Ricky Weiss
Row 2: Dale Hollidge, Gordy Gundaker
Row 3: Scott Bloomquist, Zack Mitchell
Row 4: Jordan Koehler, John Blankenship
Row 5: Mike Lupfer, Dean Bowen
Row 6: Chuckie Lepsch
Row 1: Dennis Erb Jr., Trent Ivey
Row 2: Brent Larson, Ryan Gustin
Row 3: Ross Robinson, Kenny Collins
Row 4: Steven Roberts, Boom Briggs
Row 5: Jason Miller, Parker Price-Miller
Row 6: Brandon O’Neil
(All times local)
2:30 p.m. - Drivers’ meeting/Sprints push for heat
- Big-block modified heats (8 laps)
- Sprint car heats (8 laps)
- Late Model heats (8 laps)
- Track prep
- Redraws and flag ceremony
- Big-block modified consolations (10 laps)
- Sprint car C-main (10 laps)
- Sprint car Dash (6 laps)
- Sprint car B-main (12 laps)
- Late Model consolations (10 laps)
- 3x4 Wide Salute to Fans
- Big-block modified feature (40 laps)
- Sprint car feature (30 laps)
- Late Model feature (50 laps)
- Series championship awards (all three divisions)