VADO, N.M. (Jan. 11) — A two-day intermission could do nothing to stunt the momentum of Jonathan Davenport, nor offer his nearest competitors additional time to close the gap in the apparent deficit, on Wednesday at Vado Speedway Park.
The Blairsville, Ga., juggernaut rolled to a third straight win in as many days to start the national Dirt Late Model season, commanding all 30 laps from the pole to pocket another $10,000 victory. More notably, Davenport is now three races away from the $300,000 Penske Racing Shocks Paydirt Jackpot should he capture the remaining rounds.
After Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., fell 0.670 seconds shy in the nonstop feature, one question remains: can Davenport be stopped this week?
“I don’t know, there’s always a (different track) condition,” Davenport said. “I may not get a good draw in qualifying or something in the heat race. It’s a real racy racetrack. I don’t know with the amount of competition here, if I start sixth, seventh, eighth on back if I can get to the lead. We’ll have to see. Hopefully we don’t have to find that out.
“We’re going to reset here, and we have three more to win.”
In his victory lane interview, Davenport said he never saw Pierce in his peripheral view, but stick signals from new crew chief Cory Fostvedt suggested that the sport’s top ranked driver wouldn’t win his third straight feature with ease.
“He never separated the sticks. I tried to figure out where I was losing ground and where I couldn’t gain any,” Davenport said. “I tried watching the board over here, but once I got to traffic, I was focused on lapped cars ahead of me there."
Davenport’s largest lead on Pierce came on lap 17 when he stretched the margin to 1.755 seconds, but from there, the race for the win was on. If there was a point in the running where Davenport appeared vulnerable, it was seven laps to go when he’d been held up behind the slower car of Terry Phillips.
Up to that point, Davenport dispatched lapped traffic with a singular move — not needing multiple attempts to pass the slower cars — but for whatever reason, it took him an extra corner to pass Phillips. That sequence then allowed Pierce to draw within a car length rounding six laps to go. It was, on the other hand, Davenport’s only noticeable blemish, which clearly hadn’t been enough for Pierce to capitalize.
“We were catching them there,” said Pierce, who logged the third night in his new Longhorn Chassis. “Wish tonight was 40 laps, but we knew that the 30 laps was tonight. We tried playing the tire game around it. All in all, I think we were really good. We had a shot there and (Davenport) never made any mistakes. He’s a heck of a wheelman. So hard to pass there; you get those lapped cars in between you. It was so much fun. I was very happy with second.”
Davenport added that he didn’t mind the tense moments amid slower traffic.
“I don’t mind it. It’s kind of like a chess game, really,” he said. “There were a couple times I was probably not close enough to slide them. I figured if I could at least park in front of them they wouldn’t try to turn back under me, or if they did, it’d at least fill a gap where Bobby could get to me. I was just trying to make my moves cautiously and try to be smart about it too.
“All the lapped cars gave me a lot of room there. I know a couple of them I didn’t give them a lot of room. I was racing for the win. Hopefully they understand that. Once again, Cory, Vinny Guliani and Michael Bixby did an awesome job on this thing. I’m just the lucky one that gets to hold the steering wheel.”
Brandon Sheppard of Berlin, Ill., occupied the runner-up spot throughout the opening 16 laps and salvaged a third-place effort for his third straight top-four finish to start the new season.
While Sheppard never gave Davenport a shot at the lead in the early going, he’s content at the midway point in the event that continues Thursday with another $10,000-to-win program.
“It was really good,” Sheppard said. “We changed some stuff on the car tonight and I felt like once we started running through the middle into one, I wasn’t quite as good as I needed to be. But my car has been phenomenal all week. I definitely am not hanging my head over a third-place finish. I can’t saying enough about (my) guys. … It’s been a helluva ride so far, hopefully we can get one this weekend.”
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, Bobby Pierce
Row 2: Morgan Bagley, Brandon Sheppard
Row 3: Kyle Larson, Ricky Weiss
Row 4: Kyle Beard, Garrett Alberson
Row 5: Tad Pospisil, Mike Marlar
Row 6: Johnny Scott, Cade Dillard
Row 7: Terry Phillips, McCowan
Row 8: Billy Moyer, Jake Timm
Roa 9: Rodney Sanders, Dustin Sorenson
Row 10: Cole Wells, Bill Leighton Jr.
Row 11: Tyler Erb, Don Shaw
Row 12: Kollin Hibdon, Stormy Scott
(12 laps, top four transfer)
First consolation: Rodney Sanders, Cole Wells, Tyler Erb, Kollin Hibdon, Eston Whisler, Preston Luckman, Clayton Stuckey, Jason Strand, Thomas Hunzicker, Trenton Jessen, Walton Kyle Jr., Jimmy Whisler, Rusty Schlenk, Glen Powell, Justin Duty.
Second consolation: Dustin Sorenson, Bill Leighton Jr., Don Shaw, Stormy Scott, Steve Stultz, Chris Simpson, Jon Kirby, Devan Smith, Brandon Brzozowski, Mikey Kyle, Chris Hawkins, Terry Carter, Jeff Schildmeyer. Scratched: Mercedes Abercrombie, Justin Mills.
Heat race results
(Eight laps, top four transfer)
First heat: Bobby Pierce, Kyle Larson, Tad Pospisil, Terry Phillips, Rusty Schlenk, Cole Wells, Rodney Sandes, Justin Duty, Preston Luckman, Eston Whisler, Jason Strand, Walton Kyle Jr.
Second heat: Morgan Bagley, Kyle Beard, Johnny Scott, Billy Moyer, Clayton Stuckey, Kollin Hibdon, Tyler Erb, Jimmy Whisler, Thomas Hunzicker, Glen Powell, Trenton Jessen.
Third heat: Jonathan Davenport, Ricky Weiss, Mike Marlar, Dillon McCowan, Don Shaw, Steve Stultz
Jon Kirby, Chris Hawkins, Stormy Scott, Brandon Brzozowski, Chris Simpson, Justin Mills.
Fourth heat: Brandon Sheppard, Garrett Alberson, Cade Dillard, Jake Timm, Dustin Sorenson, Bill Leighton Jr., Devan Smith, Jeff Schildmeyer, Mikey Kyle, Terry Carter, Mercedes Abercrombie.
Driver (car no.), hometown, time (unofficial)
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 14.850
Morgan Bagley (14m), Longview, Texas, 14.903
Tad Pospisil (04), Norfolk, Neb., 14.947
Kyle Beard (86), Trumann, Ark., 14.978
Terry Phillips (75), Springfield, Mo., 14.985
Johnny Scott (1st), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.085
Justin Duty (15), Molalla, Ore., 15.242
Kollin Hibdon (02), Pahrump, Nev., 15.247
Kyle Larson (6), Elk Grove, Calif., 15.272
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 15.312
Eston Whisler (82), Otis, Ore., 15.404
Clayton Stuckey (15s), Shreveport, La., 15.432
Preston Luckman (77), Coos Bay, Ore., 15.439
Glen Powell (26), Nixa, Mo., 15.550
Rodney Sanders (20), Happy, Texas, 15.617
Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, 15.649
Rusty Schlenk (91), McClure, Ohio, 15.743
Jimmy Whisler (28w), Olis, Ore., 15.865
Jason Strand (E85), Portland, N.D., 15.870
Thomas Hunziker (38), Bend, Ore., 15.897
Cole Wells (7c) Aurora, Mo., 16.029
Trenton Jessen (89J), Pineville, Mo., 16.702
Walton Kyle Jr. (250), Las Cruces, N.M., not time
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 15.194
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 15.434
Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.471
Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 15.554
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 15.581
Garrett Alberson (58), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.604
Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 15.655
Jake Timm (49), Winona, Minn., 15.682
Dillon McCowan (8), Urbana, Mo., 15.706
Dustin Sorenson (28), Rochester, Minn., 15.737
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 15.866
Mikey Kyle (25), West Lake, La. 15.867
Don Shaw (42S), Ham Lake, Minn., 15.929
Bill Leighton Jr. (24), La Vista, Neb., 15.962
Chris Hawkins (USA1), Neosho, Mo., 15.993
Devan Smith (01), Las Cruces, N.M., 16.018
Steve Stultz (78s), Peoria, Ariz., 16.059
Terry Carter (6T), Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta,, 16.064
Brandon Brzozowski (10-4), LaVernia, Texas, 16.084
Mercedes Abercrombie (29x), Deming, N.M., 16.087
Jon Kirby (11), Russellville, Ark., 16.144
Jeff Schildmeyer (19), Las Vegas, Nev., 16.248
Justin Mills (38m), Pineville, Mo., 16.352
(All times local)
2 p.m.: Pits open
3:30 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
4 p.m.: Grandstands open
4:30 p.m.: Hot laps (by heat races)
- Super Late Models hot laps/time trials
5:55 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
6 p.m.: Heat races
- X-Mods (8 laps)
- Modifieds (8 laps)
- Super Late Models (8 laps)
- X-Mods (10 laps)
- Modifieds (10 laps)
- Super Late Models (10 laps)
- Super Late Models (30 laps)
- X-Mods (20 laps)
- Modifieds (25 laps)