ROSSBURG, Ohio — Jonathan Davenport further established himself as a heavy favorite and Dennis Erb Jr. emerged as another serious contender in the 21st annual Dirt Late Model Dream presented by Ferris Mowers with preliminary feature victories Friday night at Eldora Speedway.
Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., and Erb of Carpentersville, Ill., both scored impressive 25-lap triumphs at the historic half-mile oval, earning $5,000 apiece in the DIRTcar-sanctioned races. Friday’s results will be combined with finishes from Thursday’s first night of preliminary racing to determine drivers’ starting spots in heat races for Saturday’s $100,000-to-win Dirt Late Model Dream main event.
Davenport was nearly unstoppable in racing to his second prelim victory of the weekend. The current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points leader used a turn-two slidejob to overtake Steve Casebolt of Richmond, Ind., on lap eight and quickly pulled away from the field.
Davenport’s only major obstacle came on lap 12 when he got into the back of a slower car while trying to avoid a tangle between Jared Landers and Wendell Wallace. The contact left Davenport’s machine with slight front-end damage, but it didn’t slow his pace. He cruised through the second half of the race, using the track’s high line to build a lead of 2.620 seconds by the finish.
“This thing was just excellent. It’s just such a pleasure to drive,” Davenport, who scored his fifth straight victory, said of his K&L Rumley Longhorn Chassis. “I was kind of worried when we got in that little wreck. It bent my hood up and I couldn’t turn quite as good getting into the corner. I had to back my corner entry up a little more, but it was still good.”
Casebolt settled for second, holding off Jeep Van Wormer of Pinconning, Mich., who finished third. Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., advanced from his 12th starting spot to finish fourth with Chad Simpson of Mount Vernon, Iowa, rounding out the top five.
The race was slowed by two cautions with the first coming for the lap-12 tangle between Landers and Wallace. The second yellow flag appeared when Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., who was Thursday’s other prelim race winner, slowed from the fifth position.
Erb was just as impressive as Davenport in Friday’s second 25-lap feature, albeit using a different line around the racetrack. He rode the low side of the track from his fourth starting spot to overtake polesitter Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., on lap 13. Erb never looked back from there, pulling to a lead of 4.656 seconds by the end of the caution-free race.
“The car’s working pretty good,” Erb said of the Black Diamond Chassis he debuted at Eldora this weekend. “I think we made the right choice tonight on tires. Hopefully we can keep working on it and be good tomorrow.”
McCreadie, a former World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion, held off a late-race challenge from Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., for the second spot with 10th-starting Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., just behind in fourth. Defending Dirt Late Model Dream winner Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., rallied from the 12th starting spot to finish fifth.
At the conclusion of Friday’s racing, Davenport assisted in determining the invert number for Saturday’s Dream heat races using Eldora’s new Plinko board. Davenport dropped a chip on the number 3, setting up a three-car inversion for Saturday’s six 15-lap heats.
Preliminary notes and results:
After winning the first heat, Jeep Van Wormer acknowledged help he’s receiving this weekend from Bruce Nunnally, the owner of Rocket distributor BruceBilt Performance in Knoxville, Tenn. … Steve Casebolt had some mixed emotions after capturing the second heat. “We dug ourselves a big hole last night so I don’t know if we have a just at (a good Saturday heat starting spot) even if we win tonight,” he said. “Those eight laps were pretty fun though.” … Teenager Josh Rice’s spectacular Dream weekend took a turn for the worst when he slapped the turn-two wall hard on the opening lap of the second heat. His crew was scrambling to repair the car’s right-side damage in hopes of making the B-Main lineup. … Jonathan Davenport sounded like a supremely confident driver after overtaking Duane Chamberlain with two laps remaining to win the third heat. “This things is such a pleasure to drive,” he said. “It’s so stuck in the racetrack, I can barely spin a wheel.” … Brandon Kinzer liked the road he took to victory in the fourth heat: “That was kind of old-school Eldora, (racing) around the top.” … Mason Zeigler pulled to the pit area after one lap of the fourth heat. He hit a hole in turn three so hard that it tore the spring steel off his right-side door; the bar then poked into his car’s right-rear tire. … Chase Junghans stopped on the track with two laps remaining in the B-Main due to terminal engine trouble.
Outside front-row starter Wendell Wallace led all 10 laps. Fourth-starting Gregg Satterlee advanced two spots to finish second. Using a late-race restart to his advantage, Earl Pearson Jr. edged Morgan Bagley for the third-place spot. Bailey finish fourth to transfer to the feature. The lone caution flew on the ninth lap for Chase Junghans, resulting in a green-white-checkered finish.
Finish (10 laps; top four transfer): Wendell Wallace, Gregg Satterlee, Earl Pearson Jr., Morgan Bagley, Garrett Albertan, Terry Phillips, Josh Rice, Mack McCarter, Austin Siebert, John Gill, Mason Zeigler, Jason Riggs, Mark Dotson, Casey Noonan, Charlie LaPlant, Jay Johnson, Rodney Hamblin, Ernie Cordier, Chase Junghans, Cody Mahoney, Brian Gray
(10 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Mack McCarter, Wendell Wallace
Row 2: Morgan Bagley, Gregg Satterlee
Row 3: Terry Phillips, Chase Junghans
Row 4: Garrett Alberson, Jay Johnson
Row 5: Cody Mahoney, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 6: Austin Siebert, Brian Gray
Row 7: John Gill, Casey Noonan
Row 8: Jason Riggs, Mason Zeigler
Row 9: Charles LaPlant, Mark Dotson
Row 10: Rodney Hamblin, Josh Rice
Row 11: Ernie Cordier
Brandon Kinzer emerged from a tight battle with fellow front-row starter Brandon Sheppard and Mason Zeigler on the first lap and completed an eight-lap victory. Sheppard stayed with Kinzer before brushing the wall on the sixth lap in turns one and two, and Jimmy Mars moved up to finish a close third. They transferred to the first prelim feature along with Davey Johnson and James Rice. Zeigler retired on the second lap with apparent right-side damage.
Finish (top five transfer): Brandon Kinzer, Brandon Sheppard, Jimmy Mars, Davey Johnson, James Rice, Gregg Satterlee, Jay Johnson, Brian Gray, Mason Zeigler.
Held up by an early duel for second with Devin Moran, Jonathan Davenport finally broke away, reeled in early leader Duane Chamberlain, and led the final two laps. Davenport pulled away to win by more than 2.3 seconds over Chamberlain while Moran was further back in third after swapping slide jobs with the winner in the early laps. Jared Landers and Jimmy Owens got the other two transfer spots in the caution-free heat.
Finish (top five transfer): Jonathan Davenport, Duane Chamberlain, Devin Moran, Jared Landers, Jimmy Owens, Morgan Bagley, Garrett Alberson, Austin Sieberg, Jason Riggs.
Outside front-row starter Steve Casebolt grabbed a victory, transferring along with Chad Simpson, Shannon Babb, Billy Moyer Jr. and Shane Clanton. Josh Rice, 16, the group's fastest qualifier, got into the wall on the first lap and never completed a lap.
Finish (top five transfer): Steve Casebolt, Chad Simpson, Shannon Babb, Billy Moyer Jr., Shane Clanton, Wendell Wallace, Chase Junghans, Earl Pearson Jr., Casey Noonan, Mark Dotson, Josh Rice.
Outside front-row starter Jeep Van Wormer led all the way for an easy victory in the opening heat. Van Wormer had a half-straight lead on polesitter Jake O'Neil at halfway and never let up. O'Neil held the second spot until the final corner when Scott Bloomquist slid past for a runner-up finish. Behind O'Neil, Darrell Lanigan and Randy Weaver grabbed the other transfer spots in the caution-free prelim.
Finish (top five transfer): Jeep Van Wormer, Scott Bloomquist, Jake O'Neil, Darrell Lanigan, Randy Weaver, Mack McCarter, Terry Phillips, Cody Mahoney, John Gill, Charles LaPlant, Ernie Cordier.
Scott Bloomquist skipped hot laps because he didn’t want to go out on a still-wet track surface as the first driver in line, but obviously the lack of practice didn’t hamper him. He was the fastest qualifier in the first group (and the second-fastest overall) with a lap of 15.406 seconds and showed some swagger during an interview on stage when he revealed his confidence-level for Saturday’s Dream on a scale of 1-10: “Ten,” he said. … Josh Rice continued his head-turning performance as a 16-year-old Dream rookie, turning the fastest lap in his heat-race group. … Shane Clanton missed the invert in his heat-race group, timing fifth-fastest. He expressed plenty of confidence in the speed of his car in Thursday night’s feature; he said he felt good enough to battle for victory in the second feature but fell to fourth because he “overheated my tires” when he made an early bid for the lead. … Earl Pearson Jr. was the slowest qualifier in his heat-race group after slapping the wall during his time-trial laps. It marked the second straight night that he caught the concrete, but the bodywork damage to his Moring Motorsports car this time wasn’t as severe as when he got into the wall during a heat on Thursday night. … Jason Bodenhamer did not take a qualifying lap. He loaded up his car this afternoon after crashing hard during Thursday night’s program.
Heat race lineups
(Eight laps; top five transfer)
Row 1: Jake O’Neil, Jeep Van Wormer
Row 2: Randy Weaver, Scott Bloomquist
Row 3: Terry Phillips, Darrell Lanigan
Row 4: Cody Mahoney, Mack McCarter
Row 5: John Gill, Charles LaPlant
Row 6: Ernie Cordier
Row 1: Chad Simpson, Steve Casebolt
Row 2: Billy Moyer Jr., Josh Rice
Row 3: Shane Clanton, Shannon Babb
Row 4: Wendell Wallace, Casey Noonan
Row 5: Mark Dotson, Chase Junghans
Row 6: Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 1: Devin Moran, Duane Chamberlain
Row 2: Jimmy Owens, Jonathan Davenport
Row 3: Morgan Bagley, Garrett Alberson
Row 4: Jared Landers, Jason Riggs
Row 5: Austin Seibert, Rodney Hamblin
Row 1: Brandon Kinzer, Brandon Sheppard
Row 2: Davey Johnson, Mason Zeigler
Row 3: James Rice, Jimmy Mars
Row 4: Gregg Satterlee, Jay Johnson
Row 5: Brian Gray, Jason Bodenhamer
Time trials (unofficial)
(Drivers qualify and heat race in groups)
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.406
Randy Weaver (116), Crossville, Tenn., 15.626
Jeep Van Wormer (55), Pinconning, Mich., 15.680
Jake O’Neil (68J), Tucson, Ariz., 16.093
Terry Phillips (75), Springfield, Mo., 16.196
Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 16.201
Cody Mahoney (77), Madison, Ind., 16.320
Mack McCarter (51m), Gatlinburg, Tenn., 16.337
John Gill (75), Mitchell, Ind., 16.353
Charles LaPlant (3c), East Prairie, Mo., 16.577
Ernie Cordier (4c), Brodhead, Ky., 18.663
Josh Rice (11), Verona, Ky., 15.717
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 15.737
Steve Casebolt (c9), Richmond, Ind., 15.742
Chad Simpson (25), Mount Vernon, Iowa, 15.828
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 15.861
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 15.897
Wendell Wallace (6m), Batesville, Ark., 15.998
Casey Noonan (1N), Sylvania, Ohio, 16.200
Mark Dotson (85D), Cameron, Mo., 16.324
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 16.366
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 16.379
Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., 15.707
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.822
Duane Chamberlain (20c), Richmond, Ind., 15.826
Devin Moran (99m), Dresden, Ohio, 15.946
Morgan Bagley (14m), Longview, Texas, 16.009
Garrett Alberson (F5), Las Cruces, N.M., 16.067
Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 16.085
Jason Riggs (81jr), Harrisburg, Ill., 16.343
Austin Siebert (16), Grandview, Mo., 16.621
Rodney Hamblin (14H), Downs, Ill., 17.958
Mason Zeigler (25z), Uniontown, Pa., 15.874
Davey Johnson (1j), Latrobe, Pa., 15.895,
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 16.033
Brandon Kinzer (18), Allen, Ky., 16.125
James Rice (11r), Verona, Ky., 16.175
Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 16.291
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 16.338
Jay Johnson (93), West Burlington, Iowa, 17.018
Brian Gray (3), Hamilton, Ohio, 18.157
Jason Bodenhamer (2), Centerview, Mo., no time
5 p.m. - Drivers’ meeting
6 p.m. - Hot laps (by groups) followed by time trials
7:40 p.m. - Pre-race ceremonies
8 p.m. - Racing begins
• Eight heat races (top four inverted by time; eight laps; top five transfer; first and second groups alternate)
• First B-main (10 laps; top four transfer)
• Second B-main (10 laps; top four transfer)
• First feature (25 laps; first two rows inverted by time)
• Second feature (25 laps; first two rows inverted by time)