BARBERVILLE, Fla. — A change of venue did little to slow down Jonathan Davenport’s Georgia-Florida Speedweeks assault. The Blairsville, Ga., driver dominated Monday’s 30-lap UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned DIRTcar Nationals opener at Volusia Speedway Park, racing to a convincing victory over Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C.
In winning Monday’s $7,000 prize, Davenport picked up his fourth Speedweeks victory of the season and first career win at Volusia.
Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., briefly grabbed second from Madden on lap seven but gave up the spot a few laps later and eventually settled for third. Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., advanced from the seventh spot to finish fourth, while eighth-starting Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., finished fifth.
Coming 24 hours after he notched a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory at Bubba Raceway Park in nearby Ocala, Fla., Monday’s win gave Davenport’s newly-formed Lance Landers-backed team its third win in its last four starts.
While Davenport handled the competition on the track relatively easily, it was hardly a light day at work for his team, however. Following Sunday’s Ocala triumph, the team pulled an all-nighter preparing Davenport’s Longhorn Chassis, barely making it to Volusia for Monday’s program.
“This one here is definitely for my crew. We stayed up all night last night,” said Davenport. “We put a new body on this thing. We changed motors. We went all through the car. It was raining on us and we was working in the mud plumb up to our ankles at Ocala.
“We’d work for an hour and it would rain for 30 minutes. We was just soaking wet. We got here just in time for what would’ve been hot laps, but they pushed (the start of the Late Model program) back. We didn’t even know they was gonna do that or we wouldn’t had to get here so fast.
“I just gotta take my hat off to them … thank everybody that works on this thing. I can’t thank them enough. Thanks to Lance Landers definitely for putting me in such a great opportunity. I can’t thank him enough. CPS (Crop Production Service), of course Steve Martin. He’s helped us out tremendously. Spartan Mowers, ACS Warranty, Midwest Sheet Metal, Mega Plumbing, Sunoco, Hoosier Tires, Penske Shocks … I don’t know who all I’m forgetting. I’m sure I am (forgetting someone).”
Davenport’s fourth Speedweeks victory of ’18 came at the third different track — along with Bubba Raceway Park, Davenport also had a pair of wins last week at East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla. — and gave Davenport 12 career victories during the annual three-week stretch of February racing. It was his first win at Volusia, however, a fact not lost on the likable Georgian.
“Man I’ve been wantin' one of these things for so long,” Davenport said of Volusia’s uniquely designed gator trophies. “We’ve been close and I just ain’t never got it done. I ‘bout burnt my brakes up there just trying to take it easy on my right rear tire and ‘bout lost it at the end.
“I was just staying conservative. I just wanted that first gator (trophy). That’s the only thing we was shooting for. And that’s the reason we worked so hard to get here, to get one more chance at it. So that was definitely for (the crew). Now we can look forward and try to get that big one.”
Madden did all he could to prevent Davenport from his first Volusia victory. But after falling behind on the opening circuit, he had little choice but to trail in Davenport’s tire tracks, especially on a racing surface that soon began to take rubber. Madden gave up the second spot to Clanton following a restart for a caution on lap seven, but battle back to reclaim the position. As Davenport began to reach the tail of the field late in the 30-lapper, Madden slowly reeled in the leader.
“I found something in (turns) one and two there I should’ve been doing earlier,” said Madden. “But when you’re racing in the rubber … me and Jonathan’s (raced) a long time in the rubber. Most of the time when you roll out of the rubber and you roll into the dust, you kinda seal your tires up so you’re very loose (through) the next corner in the rubber, so I didn’t really want to move around much. But when I did, I was actually better in (turns) one and two than I was in the rubber.
“I dove down there and I was able to carry some speed off the corner there. Maybe I should have put on a charge a little bit earlier and tried to move around a little bit sooner than I did.”
Madden managed to take a peak to Davenport’s inside on the final lap, but had little hope of getting by.
“I knew he had to be getting close, because I didn’t want to close much more on Dennis (Erb Jr.) because the closer I got to him the dirtier the air got and I started slipping my right rear tire,” Davenport said. “I wasn’t really concerned a whole lot about tire wear, but I knew it was gonna be pretty close. I just wanted to keep the tires under me and stay straight. Chris (Madden), he growed up racing in the rubber there at (Cherokee Speedway in) Gaffney (S.C.) and other places like I have. I knew he was gonna be tough. We just needed to keep our car straight and not make any mistakes.”
Madden, in his maiden voyage in his new Barry Wright Race Cars mount since rejoining the Hall of Fame chassis builder in the offseason, was pleased with the result.
“Overall, for the first night out with the team, with a new car from Barry (Wright) and them guys and a new powerplant that Clements and them are working hard on (with) a whole new program that their working hard on too … all in all, I think we done a great job,” Madden said. “All in all, to come out of the box and run second to Jonathan … he’s been a ball of fire this week … so to stand on the podium with him was a plus tonight.”
Clanton, who, like Madden, was a winner at Volusia last year, felt the same.
“That’s what I told Davenport down there in victory lane,” said Clanton, who has six Winternationals wins at Volusia. “I was just proud to be standing next to him. He’s won so much the last two weeks. We changed some stuff testing at Brunswick (at Golden Isles Speedway) Saturday and it really picked up the pace up a little bit, so hopefully we can just carry it on the rest of the week.”
Notes: Though Davenport was able to stretch his lead throughout the race, the final margin of victory was a mere .367 of a second as Davenport caught lapped cars in the final circuits. … The race was slowed by three cautions. Chase Jughans slowed on lap six to bring out a yellow and Dennis Erb Jr. got turned around in turn four on lap 12. … Heat 4 winner David Breazeale of Four Corners, Miss., was running in the top five before getting shuffled all the way to 10th on the restart following the caution on lap 12. He finished ninth. … Davenport’s lead at the halfway mark was 1.060 seconds and he was pulling away. … With rain scattered throughout the area, officials moved the open wheel modified finale to the front of Monday’s program, leaving the compete Late Model show at the back. Most driver understood. “Mother Nature was gonna throw them a curveball tonight and she held off,” said Shane Clanton. “I hope she holds off the rest of the week. I know track prep is hard to do … hopefully they can just get it right the rest of the week.” … A happy Davenport said he wasn’t sure where his first gator trophy would end up. “That gator’s going back to the shop,” Davenport said. “I don’t know which shop it’s going to, but this is definitely all a team effort and I gotta thank each one of them.” ... Brandon Sheppard slowed in the final laps with a deflating tire, dropping him out of the top 10 to a 13th-place finish.
Preliminary results and notes:
Three of the four heat winners — Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., and David Breazeale of Four Corners, Miss. — drove cars that saw their first competitive action. Madden was in a new Barry Wright Race Car, Clanton a fresh Capital and Breazeale a new XR1 Rocket. … Madden will shoot to win Volusia’s DIRTcar Nationals opener for the second straight year while Clanton is seeking to reach victory lane at Volusia for the fourth consecutive DCN. … Breazeale said he was “just happy to make it in the race” in his first Volusia appearance since 2009, but his outside pole starting spot puts him in position for a sterling finish as he begins a season in which he hopes to chase the WoO Rookie of the Year award. … Polesitter Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., has never won a feature at Volusia. ... Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, was an early retiree from his heat and didn’t come out for a B-main. He said he just had a “terrible day,” which started during the afternoon when a crewman blew up a tire alongside his trailer. … Rusty Schlenk of McClure, Ohio, struggled in his heat and made only a lap in a B-main because he was experiencing brake problems.
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, David Breazeale
Row 2: Chris Madden, Shane Clanton
Row 3: Kyle Bronson, Tyler Bruening
Row 4: Scott Bloomquist, Mike Marlar
Row 5: Rick Eckert, Dale McDowell
Row 6: Brandon Sheppard, Timothy Culp
Row 7: Mike Norris, Devin Moran
Row 8: Dennis Erb Jr., Brandon Overton
Row 9: Chub Frank, Donny Schatz
Row 10: Brian Shirley, Nick Hoffman
Row 11: Coleby Frye, Brent Larson
Row 12: Chase Junghans, Tyler Millwood
Winning an early battle with Brent Larson, Donny Schatz pulled ahead to win the second B-main by 1.659 seconds ahead of Nick Hoffman. Larson settled for second, with Tyler Millwood taking fourth.
Finish (top four transfer): Donny Schatz, Nick Hoffman, Brent Larson, Tyler Millwood, Joey Coulter, Billy Moyer Jr., Jeff Beyers, Blake Spencer, Reid Millard, Jason Fitzgerald. Scratch: Trey Beene, Tyler Erb.
Chub Frank powered from fifth to pick up a victory in the first B-main, with Brian Shirley coming from the fifth row to finish second. Polesitter Coleby Frye finished third, while Chase Junghans claimed the fourth and final transfer position.
Finish (top four transfer): Chub Frank, Brian Shirley, Coleby Frye, Chase Junghans, Mike Maresca, Stacy Boles, Austin Smith, Mike Hammerle, Zach McMillan, Jason Jameson, Rusty Schlenk. Scratch: Mark Whitener.
(10 laps; top 4 transfer)
Row 1: Coleby Frye, Chase Junghans
Row 2: Mike Maresca, Rusty Schlenk
Row 3: Chub Frank, Stacy Boles
Row 4: Zach McMillan, Jason Jameson
Row 5: Brian Shirley, Mike Hammerle
Row 6: Austin Smith, Mark Whitener
Row 1: Jason Fitzgerald, Brent Larson
Row 2: Donny Schatz, Nick Hoffman
Row 3: Tyler Millwood, Blake Spencer
Row 4: Billy Moyer Jr., Jeff Beyers
Row 5: Joey Coulter, Trey Beene
Row 6: Tyler Erb, Reid Millard
David Breazeale of Four Corners, Miss., became the first heat winner who didn’t start from the pole. The second-starting Breazeale motored around Mike Marlar exiting turn two to grab the lead on the opening lap and then kept Marlar at bay for the full distance. Breazeale bobbled slightly on lap three, but gathered it in and rode away to win by .898 of a second in front of Marlar. Timothy Culp finished third, with fifth-starting Brandon Overton taking the final transfer spot ahead of Brent Larson.
Finish (top 4 transfer): David Breazeale, Mike Marlar, Timothy Culp, Brandon Overton, Brent Larson, Nick Hoffman, Blake Spencer, Jeff Beyers, Trey Beene, Reid Millard.
Polesitter Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., rolled to a convincing victory in the third heat. Clanton led flag-to-flag en route to a 4.248-second victory over Scott Bloomquist. After bobbling up the track in turn two and falling back to fifth on the opening lap, the fourth-starting Bloomquist rallied back to the runner-up spot by passing Billy Moyer Jr., Jason Fitzgerald and Sheppard. Sheppard held on to finish third, while Dennis Erb Jr. passed Fitzgerald in the final turn of the final lap to take the fourth spot.
Finish (top 4 transfer): Shane Clanton, Scott Bloomquist, Brandon Sheppard, Dennis Erb Jr., Jason Fitzgerald, Donny Schatz, Tyler Millwood, Billy Moyer Jr., Joey Coulter, Tyler Erb.
Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., dominated the second heat from the pole. Davenport led all eight circuits, finishing 3.629 seconds ahead of Tyler Bruening. Bruening kept Davenport in his sight in the opening laps before slipping back at the finish. Dale McDowell finished third, while Devin Moran grabbed the fourth and final transfer spot ahead of Chase Junghans.
Finish (top 4 transfer): Jonathan Davenport, Tyler Bruening, Dale McDowell, Devin Moran, Chase Junghans, Rusty Schlenk, Stacy Boles, Jason Jameson, Mike Hammerle. Scratch: Mark Whitener.
Polesitter Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., pulled away from Kyle Bronson on the opening lap and never trailed. Madden built a straightaway lead in winning by 3.235 seconds. Bronson finished second, comfortably ahead of Rick Eckert, who grabbed the third spot from Mike Norris. Norris finished fourth, the final transfer.
Finish (top 4 transfer): Chris Madden, Kyle Bronson, Rick Eckert, Mike Norris, Coleby Frye, Mike Maresca, Chub Frank, Zach McMillan, Brian Shirley, Austin Smith.
The Dirt Late Model portion of Volusia Speedway Park’s DIRTcar Nationals commence on a day during which temperatures have reached into the lower 80s. Forecasts show a chance of showers, but no precipitation had fallen all day as of 5 p.m. … With the chance of evening showers, track officials opted to change the Monday schedule and complete the UMP modified events — two last-chance races and the 30-lap Gator Championship — before starting hot laps for the 40 cars signed in for the Dirt Late Model card. … Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., initially planned to sit out Monday's program, but while watching the UMP modified action that started the show the prospective WoO regular and his Dream Racing team decided to file a late entry. He will qualify last in the fourth heat-race group. ... Volusia sports a fresh look with the installation of a new concrete wall around turns one and two, heightened steel guardrail on the backstretch through turn four and new catch fence. Extra chain-link fencing has been erected 10 feet beyond the catch fence through turns one and two, keeping pit-area spectators farther back from the track. … Former World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series champion Shane Clanton of Unadilla, Ga., will make his first start of 2018 in a brand-new Capital Race Car that he tested on Saturday at Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Ga. He begins his season with two new crewmen, Ryan Rosser and Wade Hardy, who both hail from Gillette, Wyo. Rosser, a former modified racer who helped Clanton during last year’s Speedweeks, accepted Clanton’s offer to join him in Georgia after Wyoming’s oil-field work fell off and was soon joined by Hardy. … Hot off winning four of five 410 sprint car features to open Volusia’s DIRTcar Nationals, WoO champion Donny Schatz of Fargo, N.D., has his Dirt Late Model in the pit area to run for the remainder of the week. … Among the drivers who have cars parked in the pit area but aren’t planning to compete in Monday’s opener are Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., Boom Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa., and Clint Bowyer Racing teammates Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., and Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who spent the day at Disney World with his family. … Nick Hoffman of Mooresville, N.C., who has won three UMP modified features during the DIRTcar Nationals and will shoot for a fourth in Monday’s Gator Championship finale, has a Dirt Late Model in the pit area. … Zach McMillan of Kilgore, Texas, the 27-year-old son of Morgan Bagley’s team owner Wayman McMillan, is set to make his first career start in a Speedweeks event. … Other drivers ready to make their 2018 Speedweeks debuts include Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., David Breazeale of Four Corners, Miss., Michael Norris of Sarver, Pa., Tyler Bruening of Decorah, Iowa, Stacy Boles of Clinton, Tenn., and Reid Millard of Jefferson City, Mo. … With Rick Eckert of York, Pa., debuting his new Paul Crowl-owned XR1 Rocket, Monday marks his first race in a car built by the Shinnston, W.Va.-based manufacturer since he drove the Rocket house car in 2014. … Chris Madden of Gaffney, S.C., and WoO Rookie of the year aspirant Tyler Millwood of Kingston, Ga., are parked side-by-side in the pit area with new Barry Wright Race Cars they will debut this evening. Madden won last year’s DIRTcar Nationals opener.
Qualifying results/Heat lineups
(8 laps; top 4 transfer)
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 17.138
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 17.269
Michael Norris (72), Sarver, Pa., 17.324
Rick Eckert (24), York, Pa., 17.838
Chub Frank (1*), Bear Lake, Pa., 17.846
Zach McMillan (14Z), Longview, Texas, 18.127
Coleby Frye (0F1), Dover. Pa., 18.156
Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 18.322
Austin Smith (84), Rome, Ga., 18.388
Mike Maresca (7mm), Potsdam, N.Y., 18.846
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 16.658
Tyler Bruening (16B), Decorah, Iowa, 17.037
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 17.352
Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, 17.683
Chase Junghans (18J), Manhattan, Kan., 17.361
Rusty Schlenk (cj1), McClure, Ohio, 17.421
Jason Jameson (12), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 17.604
Stacy Boles (11B), Clinton, Tenn., 17.616
Mike Hammerle (16H), St. Charles, Mo., 18.874
Mark Whitener (co2), Middleburg, Fla., N/T
Shane Clanton (25c), Zebulon, Ga., 16.312
Jason Fitzgerald (7), Middleburg, Fla., 16.314
Brandon Sheppard (1s), New Berlin, Ill., 16.478
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 16.536
Billy Moyer Jr. (21JR), Batesville, Ark., 16.827
Donny Schatz (15), Fargo, N.D., 16.849
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 17.014
Tyler Erb (91), New Waverly, Texas, 17.097
Joey Coulter (2), Miami Beach, Fla., 17.329
Tyler Millwood (31), Kingston, Ga., 18.258
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 16.293
David Breazeale (54), Four Corners, Miss., 16.510
Timothy Culp (C8), Prattsville, Ark., 17.082
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 17.103
Brandon Overton (116), Evans, Ga., 17.225
Nick Hoffman (2), Mooresville, N.C., 17.623
Blake Spencer (6), St. Augustine, Fla., 17.658
Trey Beene (115), Bossier City, La., 18.024
Jeff Beyers (27), Pana, Ill., 18.179
Reid Millard (14m), Jefferson City, Mo., 18.978
The six-night DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park begins with a 30-lap UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned event paying $7,000 to win. One more evening of UMP action will follow before the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series takes the spotlight on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights to run four consecutive $10,000-to-win programs for the first time in DIRTcar Nationals history.
Monday night’s program includes group qualifying, four heat races, B-Mains and the 30-lap headliner. Group qualifying by heat races will be utilized; results from time trials will be used to align the heats, and the four heat winners will redraw for starting spots in the first two rows of the feature.
10 a.m.: Pit gate opens for team entry
1 p.m.: Pit pass sales begin
3 p.m.: Pit area secured; pit passes required after 3 p.m.
5 p.m.: Grandstands open
5:30 p.m.: Fan pit pass gate opens
6 p.m.: Hot laps for DIRTcar Modifieds
- DIRTcar Modifieds B-features
- DIRTcar Modified Gator Championship (30 laps)
- DIRTcar Late Model hot laps/qualifying
- DIRTcar Late Model heats
- DIRTcar Late Model consolations
- DIRTcar Late Model feature (30 laps)