MARYVILLE, Tenn. (June 20) — After capturing nine straight victories in as many starts, Jonathan Davenport’s hot streak came to an end Saturday night at Smoky Mountain Speedway at the hands of fellow Longhorn Chassis driver Randy Weaver of Crossville, Tenn.
Advancing from the third starting spot, Weaver sailed past polesitter Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C. on lap 17 of 50, dominating the remaining distance for his first career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory. He earned a $10,000 payday in Smoky Mountain’s Ole Smoky Moonshine Classic.
“When you race with this bunch … I knew he (Ferguson) was setting a pretty fast pace there,” Weaver said. “I was trying to take care of my right-rear tire and I set there for a while and he finally got where he was hanging out up top and I got by him. But I grew up watching that 0 (Bloomquist) around this area and you can’t wait around and let them guys get up there and get a chance. So we just tried to set a pace that we could get in some traffic and hold our own.”
Weaver, who started the season with eight consecutive victories, including two special event victories at Smoky Mountain, dedicated the victory to his late father.
“This is for my dad,” Weaver said in victory lane. “Tomorrow’s Father’s Day and it’s a tough time, but I got to thank the Lord. He’s good to me and lets me do what I want to do for a living. We just got off a little bit … everybody took off. You win eight in a row and it’s the greatest thing in the world. You lose three and they think you quit driving or something. But hats off to (Jonathan) Davenport and them. If there was anybody going to have to beat him, which I know he had circumstances, I’m glad it was me. Maybe both of us can start another one.”
Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., held on to his second-place starting spot, with Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., rallying from the 10th starting position to notch a podium finish. Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., finished fourth, with Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., rounding out the top five.
“He was pretty strong from the start,” Bloomquist said of Weaver’s run. “We were a little too loose tonight. The track got a lot blacker and a lot slicker than what I was expecting. And the tire rule we ended up with, we actually had a softer tire than what we would normally run here in this condition. We may have drove a little too hard early and hurt our tires a little bit. But overall, he run a good race and we’ll settle for second.”
The night got off to a shaky start for Davenport, who entered Saturday’s event with a nine-race personal win streak, including five straight Lucas Oil Series victories. Mechanical issues in time trials had the Dream winner starting on the tail end of a heat race. While his hot streak came to an end, he was still pleased with his finish.
“We had a little bit of brake issue there qualifying,” Davenport said. “Something happened there and I just couldn’t have any brakes. Instead of trying something and sticking it in the fence, we just rolled around there.
“That thing’s just awesome. We just needed one caution. I don’t know if I could have passed him, but we could have definitely made it interesting. I just got to thank everybody that’s helped me get this far. This streak’s been something awesome.”
The race was slowed by two cautions. A yellow flew on the first lap when fourth-starting Skip Arp hit the turn-two wall. Chris Brown drew a caution on lap six when he got into the frontstretch wall.
Notes:Weaver has nine special event victories on the 2015 season, three of which came at Smoky Mountain. He captured an Ultimate series triumph on March 28, following it up with a Southern All Stars victory on April 24. ... The winner snapped a six-race winless drought, his longest of the season. ... Davenport had a nine-race personal win streak snapped.