UNION, Ky. (MAY 30) – With Eldora Speedway’s Dirt Late Model Dream less than a week away, Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., is right where he wants to be — in victory lane.
Winning Saturday’s third heat race, Davenport started outside the front row of the main event, charging to the front of the field at the drop of the green flag and leading all 50 laps for a $10,000 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory in Florence Speedway’s 29th annual Ralph Latham Memorial.
“It’s definitely awesome to come here and win,” Davenport said. “I’ve never really run good here. Me and Kevin (Rumley) sat down and talked over setup for this place and he was right once again. We were a little bit off in hot laps and regrouped and come back and was pretty good. I’m glad that cushion stayed as good as it did around the top there.
“We probably could have run through the middle or the bottom, but I wasn’t really sure, leading the whole time, how to judge myself. I tried to go to the bottom that one restart and missed it a little bit and Scott (Bloomquist) got up beside of us. But then I just went back to the top and stayed up there.”
Despite a wild rollover in Friday’s series event at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway, polesitter Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., posted up a runner-up finish at Florence, with sixth-starting Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., finishing third. Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., advanced from the 14th starting spot to finish fourth, with 10th-starting Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark., rounding out the top five.
“We had a good car all night,” Pearson said. “The outside was definitely dominant. Jonathan (Davenport) got the jump on us there. He was good up top all night and we had a second-place car. At the end there we got a little bit better, but after last night to come home here second, we’re tickled to death with that. I wish I could have gotten in front of Jonathan there late in the race. I think we had something for him.”
Bloomquist, who challenged Davenport for the lead on a late-race restart, settled for a third-place finish after running in the second-place spot for much of the distance.
“It really only helped it seemed like the first lap on the start,” Bloomquist said of his tire choice. “After that, I could tell we were in trouble and we just kind of had to hold on, move around a lot on the racetrack. We were just kind of holding on. I really wish I would have went on a harder tire.”
With his Florence triumph, Davenport returns to the top of the Lucas Oil Series points standings, with a 10-point advantage over Pearson. He has a series-leading four victories on the 2015 season.
“The thought never even crossed our mind, running Lucas Oil this year,” Davenport said. “But we went to Brunswick and had some good runs. Actually, we were leading a race down there and broke, so we’d have been even better in points. We went on to East Bay just to have fun and ended up running good down there and now here we are leading the points. We still ain’t a 100 percent confident or committed yet, to running the whole deal. But we will probably go through Wheatland again and whenever we get done with the Show-Me, we’ll talk about whether or not we want to go to I-80.”
The first yellow flew on lap three when Greg Johnson brought his smoking No. 15 machine to a stop in turn four. Eric Wells drew a caution on lap 12 with a right-rear flat. A red flag fell on lap 16 when Dustin Linville jumped the cushion, rolling his car in turn two. He climbed from the car with possible injury to his arm. Seventh-running Don O’Neal and eighth-running Jimmy Owens tangled in turns one and two to draw a lap-20 caution. The final yellow flew for Steve Casebolt on lap 32 when he slowed in turn one.