WHEATLAND, Mo. — In a rare moment over the last few months, Jonathan Davenport appeared vulnerable with about 30 laps remaining in Sunday’s 23rd annual Lucas Oil Show-Me 100 presented by Protect the Harvest at Lucas Oil Speedway.
The Blairsville, Ga., driver’s Longhorn Chassis skittered precariously close to the 3/8-mile oval’s outer concrete walls and his once-dominant lead all but disappeared. He’d lost his winning rhythm.
But shaken back to reality, in part, by Jesse Stovall’s bold slide job on lap 70 that briefly put him out front, Davenport settled down and pulled away again, completing a victory that saw him officially lead all 100 laps of the crown jewel event.
Davenport’s series-leading 10th Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory continued his standout season that’s included 11 victories in his last 13 starts overall, including Saturday’s Diamond Nationals victory that was part of his weekend sweep at the showplace.
“It’s really remarkable. I can’t say enough about everybody,” said Davenport, thanking car owners Lee Roy and Kevin Rumley and other supporters. “I can’t do it myself. This car is just amazing to drive, it really is. I just can’t thank them enough for this opportunity.”
Five-time Show-Me winner Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., rallied from 16th to finish second, but never got close enough to challenge Davenport, who celebrated in victory lane at the state-of-the-art facility in the makeup event from Memorial Day weekend’s rainout.
Tail-starting Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, passed 28 cars in finishing third with three-time Show-Me winner Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., in fourth from the 13th row. Stovall, of Billings, Mo., ran second most of the way and posted the race's best home-state finish since 2010 in rounding out the top five.
Davenport’s pursuers chased him futilely most of the race, but the leader’s straightaway margin on lap 60 began disappearing as Stovall and Bloomquist began tracking him down. Davenport’s near-flawless run suddenly seemed in jeopardy as he nearly hit the wall, got briefly hung up on the flat shelf exiting turn four and struggled keep his car pointed in the right direction.
“I tell you, it was getting rough, and the worst part about it was it was slick, so you couldn’t steer the right front (later in the race), so you had to be a little bit of sideways and you’d hit it, and your car would bounce,” said Davenport, who extended his series points lead. “There wasn’t really nowhere to go. I didn’t know which way the car was going. I about hit this wall over here (in turns three and four) a couple of times, the backstretch a couple of times. I felt like that was the fastest lane for me, so I just had to put my head down, get up on the wheel and get the job done.”
The key moment came on laps 69 and 70 when Davenport, hung up above the slower car of Robert Baker, got sideways off turn four to lose momentum. Stovall, forced inside on the frontstretch by Baker’s bobble, seized the opportunity to drive hard into turn one, sliding in front of Davenport in turn two.
The winner quickly answered by pulling even down the backstretch and sliding back past Stovall in turn three.
“I kind of got to riding there, and the slower I went, the more I pushed,” Davenport said. “(Stovall) showed me his nose there, and I just couldn’t get back in a rhythm fast enough. My (crew member) on the back straightaway said he was closing on me, but I couldn’t get back into a rhythm fast enough. But then I slid (past) him back down here in (turns three and four) and hope I gave him room, but it was just awesome for my team, my crew, everybody back at Longhorn Chassis.”
From then on, Davenport regained his rhythm and slowly pulled away over the final 30 laps, winning by a five-second margin over Bloomquist while Stovall slipped back after a lap-88 miscue exiting turn two.
Davenport relished his second career crown jewel victory — but first that didn’t come via disqualification, like when Scott Bloomquist came up light at the scales at the Eldora Speedway’s $100,000 Dream in June.
“We won the Dream — kind of — we finished second, but we brought the check home. So now we’ve got us a crown jewel we actually won.”
While Bloomquist was the sport’s dominant driver in the second half of 2014, Davenport clearly has claimed that mantle with his spring and summer hot streak.
“I tell you what, everybody thought Scott was untouchable last year when it came to big money,” Davenport said. “He just about picked up every check. So maybe the roles are flipped this year and they might be chasing us.”
Bloomquist was indeed among those chasing the No. 6, promising that he was going to do this best to catch him. His advice to Davenport: “Savor the flavor, it won’t last forever.”
Said Bloomquist: “We’ve just been coming up a little bit short. We’ve been working hard on our car, and he’s been really good. It seems like he’s just hit on something that’s working everywhere he’s going.
“I think the things we’ve been working on changing, we’re quite a bit different than what we were at the end of (last) year, and anytime somebody finds something, that puts you to work,” said Bloomquist, who also finished second Saturday at Wheatland. “We’re working hard and we’re going to do some testing the next couple of weeks, and we’ve got a lot of things we need to try. You’ve gotta be optimistic. We feel good about at least going forward.”
Simpson, who opted to start 31st in the 100-lapper instead of taking the $2,000 for winning the Midwest Sheet Metal Show-Me Challenge non-qualifiers’ race, was asked who could beat Davenport.
“I don’t know. Hopefully we can next week,” he said, considering the $32,000-to-win Silver Dollar Nationals coming up at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb.
Simpson, making one of his guest starts for Louisiana-based Childress Racing, gave it his best shot at the Show-Me 100, climbing all the way to third without the benefit of a caution the final 49 laps.
“The cautions we did have, I got stuck up top (on the restarts), and I wanted to be on the bottom. It was a heckuva run, 31st-to-third against this competition. This car, I’ve only been in it four or five times. It’s all top-notch stuff.
“Our right-rear tire looks good. I’m not ready for 100 more (laps), but the car is.”
Five cautions slowed the action, none for serious incidents. Jake O’Neil stopped in turn two on lap 35, then a lap-43 yellow flew for Robert Baker’s turn-one spin. Billy Moyer Jr. pulled up lame on the backstretch on lap 45 and his fifth-running father joined him pitside two laps later after getting too high in turn four.
The final yellow appeared on the 51st lap when Kent Robinson ended up facing the wrong way on the inside of the frontstretch.
After climbing out of his car amid confetti in victory lane, Davenport reflected on the team that has helped him reach racing’s upper stratosphere.
“We’re just really proud of what we’ve done,” he said. “Kevin, he’s a brilliant guy. Lee Roy, he’s just the same. That apple didn’t far to far from the tree. Lee Roy builds great power, Kevin built a great chassis, JRi Shocks helps us out, we’ve just got a great combination going right now. I hope we can stay with it.”
Notes: Davenport has 14 victories overall in 2015, 12 of them since May 21. … Brian Shirley ran as high as fifth but slipped back when he got too high in turn four. … Fellow Illinois driver Dennis Erb Jr. ran as high as fourth but ended up seventh. … Earl Pearson Jr., who started 17th, reached fifth late in the race but ended up sixth. … The race’s five cautions were compressed in a 16-lap stretch. … Seven drivers of Black Diamond-Club 29 cars finished among the top 10.
23rd annual Lucas Oil Show-Me 100 presented by Protect the Harvest
Pos. Driver (car no.), hometown, chassis, earnings
1. Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., Longhorn, $30,000
2. Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., Sweet-Bloomquist, $10,000
3. Chris Simpson (R5), Oxford, Iowa, Black Diamond, $6,000
4. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., Club 29, $4,000
5. Jesse Stovall (00), Billings, Mo., Black Diamond, $3,000
6. Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., Black Diamond, $2,500
7. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., Black Diamond $2,400
8. Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., Club 29, $2,300
9. Tony Jackson Jr. (56), Lebanon, Mo., Club 29, $2,200
10. Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., Rocket, $2,100
11. Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., Rocket, $2,000
12. Chris Brown (21B), Spring, Texas, Club 29, $1,975
13. Eddie Carrier Jr. (28), Salt Rock, W.Va., Rocket $1,950
14. Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., Sweet-Bloomquist, $1,925
15. Jack Sullivan (18), Greenbrier, Ark., Rocket, $1,900
16. Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., Barry Wright, $375
17. Jason Papich (91P), Nipomo, Calif., Club 29, $1,850
18. Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., Barry Wright, $1,825
19. Devin Moran (99m), Dresden, Ohio, MasterSbilt, $1,800
20. Robert Baker (17m), Bryant, Ark., Rocket, $1,750
21. Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind., Club 29, $1,700
22. Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., Victory, $1,650
23. Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., Longhorn, $1,600
24. Shane Essary (15), Aurora, Mo., Rocket, $1,550
25. Jason Utter (31), Columbus Junction, Iowa, Black Diamond, $1,500
26. Terry Phillips (75), Springfield, Mo., Bloomquist, $1,500
27. Austin Siebert (16), Grandview, Mo., Rocket, $1,500
28. Wendell Wallace (6m), Batesville, Ark., Black Diamond, $1,500
29. Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa, Rocket, $1,500
30. Jake O’Neil (0), Tucson, Ariz., Bloomquist, $1,500
31. Chad Simpson (25), Mount Vernon, Iowa, Victory Circle, $1,500
Fast qualifier (among 82 cars): Jackson, 15.962 seconds
Heat race winners: Jackson, Stovall, Shirley, Moyer, Davenport, Moran,
Consolation winners: Phillips, Carrier, Papich
Non-qualifiers’ race winner: Chris Simpson
Provisional starters: Owens, Sheppard, Francis, Utter, Chad Simpson, Wallace
Correction: Fixes chassis make for Phillips.
Chris Simpson slung around leader Hunter Rasdon on a lap-five restart and raced to a victory in the Midwest Sheet Metal Show-Me Challenge for non-qualified drivers. He elected to pass on the $2,000 winner's purse to start on the tail of the $1,500-to-start 100-lapper. Jeremy Payne finished a half-straight back in second with 11th-starting R.C. Whitwell in third. Ross Nicastri spun inside turn four on the fifth lap for the first of two cautions. Another yellow appeared after the ensuing restart when Randy Roth, Jason Bodenhamer and Brantlee Gotschall tangled in turn three.
Finish (winner transfers): Chris Simpson, Jeremy Payne, R.C. Whitwell, Brantlee Gotschall, Kyle Berck, Jason O'Brien, Hunter Rasdon, Jacob Magee, Kolby Vandenbergh, Jeff Roth, Jason Bodenhamer, Gavin Landers, Ross Nicastri, Randy Roth, Rick Kimberling, Garrett Alberson.
Non-qualifiers’ race lineup
(20 laps; winner option to start feature)
Row 1: Hunter Rasdon, Randy Roth
Row 2: Kyle Berck, Chris Simpson
Row 3: Jeremy Payne, Jason O'Brien
Row 4: Jeff Roth, Garrett Alberson
Row 5: Gavin Landers, Brantlee Gotschall
Row 6: R.C. Whitwell, Jason Bodenhamer
Row 7: Mark Dotson, Jacob Magee
Row 8: Dan Shepherd, Scott Lewis
Row 9: Ross Nicastri, Kolby Vandenbergh
Row 10: Rick Kimberling
Jason Papich built nearly a straightaway lead after seven laps and cruised to a 20-lap victory. MLRA rookie Jake O'Neil got the other transfer spot, pulling away from brothers Chad and Chris Simpson over the second half of the race. A second-lap caution appeared when Jacob Magee spun over the turn-two banking.
Finish (top two transfer): Jason Papich, Jake O'Neil, Chad Simpson, Chris Simpson, Steve Francis, Garrett Alberson, Brantlee Gotschall, Jason Bodenhamer, Jacob Magee, Scott Lewis, Ross Nicastri, Kolby Vandenbergh, Rick Kimberling.
Eddie Carrier Jr. cruised to victory in the second consolation, wrapping up a 20-lapper that started on May 23. Dan Shepherd's weekend ended quicky when he hit the backstretch wall, losing a wheel and damaging car without completing two laps. The race was postponed by rain on Memorial Day weekend. Ryan Gustin joined Carrier in transferring to the main event while Hunter Rasdon was third. Mark Dotson was running fifth on the final lap but jumped the cushion in turn four.
Finish (top two transfer): Eddie Carrier Jr., Ryan Gustin, Hunter Rasdon, Kyle Berck, Jeremy Payne, Jeff Roth, Gavin Landers, R.C. Whitwell, Mark Dotson, Dan Shepherd.
The conclusion of the 23rd annual Lucas Oil Show-Me 100 presented by Protect the Harvest is rolling Sunday evening at Lucas Oil Speedway with a $30,000-to-win purse on the line for Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series competitors.
Rain halted the event during the second consolation race on Memorial Day weekend, forcing the postponement to mid-July in conjunction with Saturday’s Diamond Nationals, which was won by Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga.
The program resumes midway through the second consolation race while a third consy will send two more drivers to the main event. The winner of the Midwest Sheet Metal Show-Me Challenge for non-qualifiers has the option of taking a 16th-row starting spot in the 32-car field.
Two-time series champ Scott Bloomquist, who drove a Jared Landers car to a runner-up finish in Saturday’s Diamond Nationals, is back in his own car Sunday. His hauler broke down en route to Wheatland but was repaired last night. … At least two drivers will be in different chassis than their Memorial Day weekend visits to Wheatland. Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., is piloting a Club 29 Race Car (he’s set to start 18th in the main event) and Kyle Berck of Marquette, Neb., is debuting a Black Diamond Chassis (he’s running third in the second consolation with 10 laps remaining). … The last four rows of the 32-car field are made up of special starters, including Jimmy Owens and Brandon Sheppard who are set in the 23th row as Lucas Oil Series provisionals. Two emergency provisionals are set for Row 14 and MLRA provisionals are set for Row 15 (MLRA co-sanctions the race). Wendell Wallace starts inside the 16th row with a past championp provisional and the final starting spot potentially goes to the non-qualifiers’ race winner, if he decides to start the feature. ... Billy Moyer Jr. made an overnight trip to Wheatland after his UMP DIRTcar Summernationals victory Saturday at Oakshade Raceway in Wauseon, Ohio. ... Newcomers Kolby Vandenbergh and Ross Nicastri will start on the tail of the third consy.
Show-Me 100 feature lineup
Row 1: Tony Jackson Jr., Jesse Stovall
Row 2: Jonathan Davenport, Brian Shirley
Row 3: Devin Moran, Billy Moyer
Row 4: Kent Robinson, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 5: Jared Landers, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 6: Austin Siebert, Chris Brown
Row 7: Jack Sullivan, Shane Essary
Row 8: Don O’Neal, Scott Bloomquist
Row 9: Earl Pearson Jr., Shannon Babb
Row 10: Terry Phillips, Eddie Carrier Jr.
Row 11: Jason Papich, Robert Baker
Row 12: Ryan Gustin, Jake O'Neil
Row 13: Jimmy Owens, Brandon Sheppard
Row 14: Steve Francis, Jason Utter
Row 15: Chad Simpson, Wendell Wallace
Row 16: Chris Simpson
(Race resumes after 10 of 20 laps; top two transfer)
Running order: Eddie Carrier Jr., Ryan Gustin, Kyle Berck, Jeff Roth, Hunter Rasdon, Mark Dotson, Jeremy Payne, Dan Shepherd, R.C. Whitwell, Gavin Landers
(20 laps; top two transfer)
Row 1: Jake O’Neil, Jason Papich
Row 2: Chad Simpson, Scott Lewis
Row 3: Chris Simpson, Garrett Alberson
Row 4: Jason Bodenhamer, Brantlee Gotschall
Row 5: Jacob Magee, Steve Francis
Row 6: Rick Kimberling, Kolby Vandenbergh
Row 7: Ross Nicastri
4 p.m.: Gates open
5:-5:45 p.m.: Autograph session
6:30 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
7 p.m.: Hot laps
- Late Model consolation cars
7:30 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
7:35 p.m.: Racing begins
- Late Model consolations (20 laps)
- Late Model hot laps (top 18)
- Modified consolations (12 laps)
- Midwest Sheet Metal Show-Me Challenge (20 laps; non-qualifiers)
- Late Model main event (100 laps)
- Modified main event (30 laps)