ELLISVILLE, Fla. — Of course Jonathan Davenport would win his last race of the 2022 season, because how could the year's script fade into the black any different?
Superman again pulled through in the nick of time Saturday at All-Tech Raceway, as the sport’s dominating force had his way one last time in the XR Super Series Sunshine State 50, leading the final six laps to pocket another handsome payday of $40,000.
By Davenport’s count, the performance pushed him over the $2 million mark in a history-making season that ends at 24 wins with nine of those wins paying $40,000 or more.
“Ain’t that crazy? I can’t even put it into words, what this team has been able to accomplish this year,” Davenport said. “We started out the year not that great in Florida. We left and came back, and (got my) first win of the season with the XR Series (on April 23 at All-Tech). It’s cool to cap it off with a last win with the XR Series. I have to thank my guys, Jason (Durham) and Tyler (Braggs). Vinny (Guliani) is back at the shop. Cory (Fostvedt) is here with me.
“As everybody knows, this is Jason’s and Tyler’s last race with me. Kind of bittersweet; I hate to see them go. I also understand why. We’re going to keep on digging and see if we can’t do a little better next year.
“Once we all settle down and get together, we’re going to have a helluva party, that’s for sure,” Davenport added. "From then, I don’t know. We’re going to have to get everybody together and see what next year is going to bring. We’re going to come out, and I don’t know if we can duplicate this year, but we sure in hell are going to try. I have to thank everybody that’s helped me ever get to this point on top of the Dirt Late Model world. It’s just surreal, really.”
Though he started from the front row, the 50-lap feature in and of itself didn’t play out like many of the features Davenport’s won from the front row this year. Davenport ran fifth for a good portion of Saturday’s main event and didn’t have a clear shot at the win until with nine laps remaining.
All-Tech regular Mark Whitener of Middleburg, Fla., seemed poised to win the biggest race of his career, leading a race-high 22 laps from the pole and overcoming a multi-second deficit to hustle back to the lead with under 10 laps remaining. A harder tire compound selection, however, caved Whitener’s chances, as Davenport leveraged the bottom to his advantage, powering into the lead on lap 45.
As a result of getting all he can around the top side of the half-mile, Whitener broke a j-bar in the rear suspension and tumbled down the leaderboard to finish fifth.
“I went with a hard tire and I know Davenport was on a soft tire. I think Overton was on a soft tire. So, I don’t know if I cut my edges off my tire and my car gave up. I was on the bottom, and I was trying to be patient. I was on the bottom, and they got up under me to try and pass me, so the only thing I has to do was get up on the top and see if I can run it out around the top. I gave it everything it was worth. I just came up short.”
Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga. — driving a Longhorn Chassis research and development car fielded by Kevin Rumley — led 14 laps and finished second. Overton battled Whitener hard in the closing laps, and in hindsight wish he purposely let Whitener ahead by a few car lengths with hopes he’d use up his tires.
“I think I just did a crappy job driving there,” Overton said. “I kept seeing Whitener roll around the top. I actually passed him back cutting the middle off and catching the brown leaving (the corner). I probably just should have stayed where I was at and let him try to get up there and do what he was going to do — get his tires hot and then drive back by him. I didn’t, so we’ll take our second.
“It’s been a fun weekend. It’s a pleasure to drive this thing, work with Kevin and all his boys I appreciate everything they’ve done for us this weekend and we’ll look forward to the schedule.”
Milton, Fla.’s Joseph Joiner, meanwhile, finished third after rebounding from a mishap in qualifying in which he busted the power steering line following contact with the outside wall. Joiner labored through his heat with no power steering and finished fourth, which started him 12th in the main event. Fortunately for he and the Hunt The Front team they revived their power steering and Joiner was able to pass Kyle Bronson and Whitener on the last lap to round out the podium.
“We’ll certainly take it,” Joiner said. “I hit the wall the first lap of hot laps tonight and knocked the rack out of it, busted a power steering line. I didn’t have power steering until the feature. I ran qualifying and the heat race with no power steering. We barely got it going right before the feature. Hats off to the guys. It means a lot. They worked hard on it tonight. Hats off to them. Everybody is covered in power steering fluid.
“I can’t believe I’m up here tonight. I thought I was going to get start-and-park money and just go back to the truck. I couldn’t drive it, and here we are up here on the podium. Just had some things go our way there through the race to be on the bottom and be able to pass a few cars.”
Row 1: Mark Whitener, Jonathan Davenport
Row 2: Brandon Overton, Payton Freeman
Row 3: Shane Clanton, Carson Ferguson
Row 4: Kyle Strickler, Trent Ivey
Row 5: Matt Sheppard, Kyle Bronson
Row 6: Jensen Ford, Joseph Joiner
Row 7: Cla Knight, Ashton Winger
Row 8: John Gill, Clayton Stuckey
Row 9: Brenden Smith, Ryan Crane
Row 10: Jason Garver, Austin Kirkpatrick
Row 11: Hunter Peacock, Jeff Mathews
Row 12: Tim McCreadie, Jesse Enterkin
Consolation race results
(10 laps; top four transfer)
Finish: Jason Garver, Austin Kirkpatrick, Hunter Peacock, Jeff Mathews, Cruz Skinner, John Winge, Jesse Enterkin. Scratched: Tim McCreadie, Chad Tuten, Adam Boyd
Heat race results
(Eight laps; top six transfer)
First heat: Mark Whitener, Payton Freeman, Kyle Strickler, Kyle Bronson, Cla Knight, Clayton Stuckey, Hunter Peacock, Austin Kirkpatrick, Jeff Mathews, John Winge.
Second heat: Jonathan Davenport, Shane Clanton, Trent Ivey, Jensen Ford, Ashton Winger, Brenden Smith, Jason Garver, Jesse Enterkin. Scratched: Chad Tuten
Third heat: Brandon Overton, Carson Ferguson, Matt Sheppard, Joseph Joiner, John Gill, Ryan Crane, Cruz Skinner, Tim McCreadie. Scratched: Adam Boyd
Driver (car no.), hometown
1. Mark Whitener (5W), Middleburg, Fla., 18.623
2. Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 18.770
3. Matt Sheppard (58), Waterloo, N.Y., 18.877
4. Cla Knight (42), North Augusta, S.C., 18.882
5. Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 18.901
6. Brandon Overton (5), Evans, Ga., 19.211
7. Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 19.215
8. Jensen Ford (83), Johnson City, Tenn., 19.236
9. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 19.263
10. Hunter Peacock (44D), Macon, Ga., 19.350
11. Trent Ivey (88), Union, S.C., 19.403
12. Joseph Joiner (10), Milton, Fla., 19.424
13. Payton Freeman (22*), Commerce, Ga., 19.451
14. Jason Garver (01), Starke, Fla., 19.474
15. Carson Ferguson (93), Concord, N.C., 19.669
16. Kyle Strickler (8), Mooresville, N.C., 19.788
17. Brenden Smith (17SS), Dade City, Fla., 19.806
18. John Gill (C02), Mitchell, Ind., 19.933
19. Clayton Stuckey (15), Shreveport, La., 19.965
20. Jesse Enterkin (1), Milton, Fla., 20.155
21. Cruz Skinner (37), Oxford, Ala., 20.195
22. Austin Kirkpatrick (11), Charlotte, N.C., 20.205
23. Chad Tuten (51), Blackshear, Ga., 20.333
24. Ryan Crane (10), Panama City, Fla., 20.389
25. John Winge (17J), Harrisburg, S.D., 20.799
26. Ashton Winger (12), Senoia, Ga., no time
27. Jeff Mathews (33), Brandon, Fla., no time
28. Adam Boyd (6B), Riverview, Fla., no time
2 p.m.: Pits open, driver registration, draw and transponder opens
4 p.m.: Grandstands open
6:30 p.m.: Drivers' meeting
7:15 p.m.: Hot Laps
- Super Late Models
- Street stocks
7:55 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
8 p.m.: On-track activity
- Super Late Model qualifying
- Street stock heat races (8 laps)
- Super Late Model heat races (8 laps)
9:30 p.m.: Consolation races
- Super Late Models (10 laps)
10 p.m.: Main events
- Street stocks (20 laps)
- Super Late Models (50 laps)