ROSSBURG, Ohio (Sept. 12) — Jonathan Davenport was in the right place at the right time.
Taking advantage of race-long leader Kyle Strickler’s blown right rear tire with just one lap remaining, Davenport, of Blairsville, Ga., led the final circuit to win Saturday’s 67-lap Intercontinental Classic at Eldora Speedway. It was the only lap the 2015 Dream winner and three-time World 100 winner needed to lead as he earned $50,000 for his fifth career major triumph at the Tony Stewart-owned oval.
“I seen (Strickler) laying over (on the right rear) and I didn’t know if he’d hit the wall that I didn’t see and maybe knocked the deck down, and then he got slower,” Davenport said. “So I was looking through (turns) three and four and I’m like, damn, I wonder how many laps are left. Then I looked to the left and I could see the flagstand and he was starting to wave the white and I’m like, ‘Oh s--- it’s the last lap.’ Man, it’s just … better to be lucky than good.
“Our race car wasn’t that good. The guys worked on it and made some good changes and got me to second there and that’s where we were gonna finish. We wasn’t very maneuverable. We was really good on restarts, so that’s where I done about all my passing on restarts. I hate it for them, but man I’m really happy for our guys.”
Strickler, of Mooresville, N.C., took the lead from polesitter Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C., on lap two and led the race to the white flag — yielding only briefly, though not officially, on lap 49 when Ricky Weiss of Headingly, Manitoba, slipped ahead on the backstretch — but his dazzling drive around Big E’s top shelf was undone when his right rear tire began deflating with two laps remaining. Moments after taking the white flag, with Davenport bearing down on him, the tire completely shredded.
“When I got up there I just kinda cut it on something. We just cut it down,” said a dejected Strickler, fighting back tears after nursing his ailing machine to a sixth-place finish. “I felt it going down a lap before. I promise you that was the longest lap of my life with a flat tire trying to hold on to win $50,000. It would help our program so much. They say you gotta lose some before you can win some. I’m just super proud of my guys, preparing this race car to come up here … we’ll be back for sure.”
With Strickler doing all he could to limp back to the checkered flag, ninth-starting Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y. — June’s Dirt Late Model Stream Invitational winner — flashed by to grab the runner-up position. Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., charged from 18th to finish third and Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., motored from 17th to take fourth. Both Illini drivers used points provisionals to start the main event. Ferguson, who ran second early before losing a dozen spots on a lap-29 restart rallied from the middle of the pack to complete the top five.
Davenport thought he had a car capable of winning the race early, but as the track began to change, so did his outlook. He managed, however, to take advantage of the restarts — the race was slowed by five cautions — and kept creeping toward the front.
“After the first caution I thought we was pretty good,” Davenport said. “I was rolling around the bottom really well. As soon as that little bit of brown went away, I stopped steering and I was just trying to hang on and get what we can here. Every restart I could take off really good and I could get one or two every restart. That really helped me.
“Then I got up beside Strickler on that last restart and he got up on the wheel and pulled away. I couldn’t steer around the cushion like he could. I was just too tight. We was tight, (that) got us to second like (Longhorn’s) Matt (Langston) said and luck got us the win.”
It’s not Davenport’s first fortuitous victory at Eldora. His 2015 Dream victory came after apparent winner Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., was light at the scales, though he’s still not sure if he’d call himself charmed at Eldora.
“It sure seems that way. I’ve never really thought about it that way,” he said. “But for all the bad luck we’ve had this year, I guess it definitely helps. Like I said before, me and Strickler we hit wheels when we was back here at the Dream and I thought I had a really good car then and so I got taken out there.
“It wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t my fault. It was just a racing deal, so maybe Eldora just paid me back. As far as we’ve been going, I’ve been winning the World every other year, so I figured this wasn’t my time anyway. But this isn’t the World, so maybe we can get that one next year.”
Though he finished just 0.558 of a second behind Davenport, McCreadie was never in a position to repeat his Stream Invitational victory. The 2018 World 100 winner said he started a bit too far back.
“Guys are getting so much better you just can’t spot ‘em so many spots,” McCreadie said. “It just took forever for me to get there. That last green flag run actually Shannon (Babb) and I was every bit as good as each other and kinda tracking J.D. down. It’s just the way it goes. Congrats to J.D. I know how hard they work. We’re all working together. I hate it obviously for Strickler. You know, all of us work together at Longhorn and it would have been nice to have a sweep.”
Babb’s spectacular run from 18th in a Bloomquist Race Car — combined with Strickler’s misfortune — helped break up a Longhorn podium sweep. He came from deep in the field after contact from Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., in the night’s first heat damaged his car and forced him to rely on a high points provisional to start the feature. His third-place finish backed up his $10,000 preliminary feature win on Friday.
“I hate to see that for Kyle. He ran the race of his life,” Babb said. “We had a little bit of a rough night but we was able to overcome it and my team never gave up. They kept pounding away. We had a good couple of nights and was able to get in the race on the points. Man this hot rod was really good. It was impressive. It’s a lot of fun to drive.”
Babb, who was pitted beside Bloomquist all weekend, said it helped to be at the same track a the hall-of-famer, who eventually finished seventh after starting 19th.
“It was good for us to both get together here to work on our cars a little bit,” Babb said. “He had a little electrical issue and I think we just kept searching and searching and I got myself comfortable and I think it helped him a little bit. Hell, he was ahead of me for awhile, I know he was digging on the bottom and you know we got the restart and I was able to get back by him. It was neat to get to race with him there.”
Notes: Davenport was subdued in victory lane, forgoing his customary on-the-roof, steering-wheel-in-hand celebration, in part because Strickler’s heartbreaking fate and in part because there were no fans at the event. “This is just absolutely crazy. It’s kinda creepy really,” Davenport said. “I thought it was silly to get up on top of my car and, you know, get up on the roof and celebrate. I want to celebrate for my crew, myself and my owners, but it’s just weird without the fans here. They’re such a huge part of our sport. And really I thought for so many years that we couldn’t have races without fans, but luckily with the ‘ol trusty internet, they can order it and we’re still able to do this.” … With the Intercontinental Classic replacing the 50th World 100, which has been rescheduled for next September, runner-up Tim McCreadie said he expects “big things out of the 50th. We lost a lot of purse structures this year. It’s the 50th right, so maybe $100,000 for first and maybe about $90,000 for second would be nice for a change and really pay us. I know they do a great job (but) when you see 50-50s that are more than what it pays to win (the race), maybe they can scratch up for it.” … Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., was running second when the final caution waved on lap 59. But on the restart, the perennial Eldora frontrunner’s car wouldn’t fire and he fell back to 17th with what he described as a fuel pick-up issue. ... Thirteen of the 24 starters completed 67 laps.
Intercontinental Classic finish
Pos. Driver (car no.), hometown, chassis, earnings
1. Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., Longhorn, $50,000
2. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., Longhorn, $10,000
3. Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., Bloomquist, $5,000
4. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., Rocket, $4,000
5. Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., Bloomquist, $3,750
6. Kyle Strickler (8), Mooresville, N.C., Longhorn, $3,500
7. Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn, Bloomquist, $3,400
8. Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., Rocket, $3,300
9. Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., Rocket, $3,250
10. Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., Rocket, $3,000
11. Scott James (83), Bright, Ind., Rocket, $2,750
12. Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., Longhorn, $2,650
13. Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., Barry Wright, $2,600
14. Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., Rocket, $2,575
15. Jerry Bowersock (95j), Wapakoneta, Ohio, Rocket, $2,500
16. Chad Simpson (1), Mount Vernon, Ohio, Black Diamond, $2,400
17. Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., Bloomquist, $2,300
18. Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind., MB Customs, $2,200
19. Ricky Weiss (7), Headingley, Manitoba, Bloomquist, $2,100
20. Spencer Hughes (11), Meridian, Miss., Capital, $2,000
21. Josh Richards (14), Shinnston, W.Va., Rocket, $1,800
22. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., Pierce, $1,700
23. Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., Rocket, $1,600
24. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., Rocket, $1,500
Lap leaders: Ferguson 1; Strickler 2-66; Davenport 67
Fast qualifier (among 48 cars): Owens, 15.078 seconds
Heat race winners: McDowell, Madden, Strickler, Ferguson
Consolation winners: Bloomquist, Robinson
Provisional starters: Erb, Babb
Preliminary feature winners: Richards, Babb
Lap-by-lap coverage and preliminary results:
8:30 p.m. | Davenport wins
Taking the lead in turn two on the final lap as race-long lead Kyle Strickler slowed with a right rear flat, Jonathan Davenport wins the Intercontinental Classic.
8:23 p.m. | Robinson up in smoke
The fifth caution waves as Kent Robinson trails smoke and pits. Strickler leads McDowell, Davenport, Babb (up from 18th) and McCreadie.
8:21 p.m. | Weiss out
Weiss pits trailing heavy smoke on lap 55. Strickler leads McDowell.
8:18 p.m. | Lead battle
With 18 laps remaining Weiss and Strickler swap the lead twice.
8:12 p.m. | Pierce slows again
With a flat right rear tire, Bobby Pierce slows to bring out the fourth caution. Strickler continues to lead Weiss, McDowell, Davenport and Overton. Babb is up to sixth, while Bloomquist is seventh after starting 19th and Erb is now eighth. There are 35 laps complete.
8:10 p.m. | Bronson slows
Kyle Bronson brings out the third caution as Dennis Erb Jr. rides in fifth and Scott Bloomquist is up to seventh. Strickler leads Ricky Weiss and Dale McDowell.
8:07 p.m. | Ferguson slips
Second-running Chris Ferguson slips over the cushion on the restart and loses 12 spots. … Dennis Erb up to fifth.
8:06 p.m. | Sheppy slows
Brandon Sheppard slows on lap 29 to bring out the caution. He ducks into the pit area with a flat right rear. Strickler leads Ferguson, McDowell, Weiss, Davenport, Brandon Overton, Dennis Erb Jr., Shannon Babb, Chris Madden and Tim McCreadie.
8:04 p.m. | Illini drivers on the move
Provisional starters Dennis Erb Jr. and Shannon Babb are up to eighth and ninth on lap 22 as Strickler leads Ferguson by 1 second.
8:01 p.m. | Pierce slows
Bobby Pierce slows on lap 16 to draw the first yellow. Kyle Bronson pits also. Strickler led Chris Ferguson by 0.515 seconds. McDowell is third, with Weiss fourth and Richards fifth.
8 p.m. | Lapped traffic ahead
Strickler still leads Ferguson and McDowell, with Josh Richards and Ricky Weiss fourth and fifth on lap 15, with traffic ahead.
7:58 p.m. | Strickler leads
After Chris Ferguson led the opening lap, Kyle Strickler went by in turn two as they almost touched and grabbed the lead. Strickler leads Fergy and Dale McDowell after seven laps. Jimmy Owens pits on lap seven.
7:53 p.m. | Four-wide parade lap underway
Drivers ready for 67-lap main event.
7:35 pm. | Feature lineup
Row 1: Chris Ferguson, Kyle Strickler
Row 2: Chris Madden, Dale McDowell
Row 3: Ricky Weiss, Josh Richards
Row 4: Brandon Overton, Jonathan Davenport
Row 5: Tim McCreadie, Brandon Sheppard
Row 6: Darrell Lanigan, Scott James
Row 7: Spencer Hughes, Chase Junghans
Row 8: Jimmy Owens, Chad Simpson
Row 9: Dennis Erb Jr., Shannon Babb
Row 10: Scott Bloomquist, Kent Robinson
Row 11: Frank Heckenast Jr., Bobby Pierce
Row 12: Jerry Bowersock, Kyle Bronson
7:27 | K-Rob wins second consolation
Slipping ahead of Hudson O’Neal on lap seven, Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., grabbed the lead and pulled away to win the second consolation race. Robinson finished 2.104 seconds ahead of O’Neal, who crossed the line second but failed to make weight and forfeited his runner-up finish and transfer spot. Bobby Pierce who initially finished third and Kyle Bronson, who crossed the line fourth, took the evening’s final transfer positions. Fourth-running Jeep Van Wormer got into the wall and slowed to bring out a caution on lap seven. Earl Pearson Jr. parked and called it a weekend on lap six.
Second consolation finish: Kent Robinson, Bobby Pierce, Kyle Bronson, Gregg Satterlee, Steven Roberts, Logan Martin, Jeep Van Wormer, Earl Pearson Jr. DNS: Jason Feger. DQ’d, Hudson O’Neal (light).
7:27 p.m. | Racing deal for Lanigan, Overton
Brandon Overton and Darrell Lanigan had a run-in late in heat three with the two cars making contract entering turn three on lap 14. Both cars continued running with Overton finishing second and Lanigan third, but crews were busy replacing frontend parts on both cars after the heat race.
Overton worried that Lanigan may have been aggravated with him over the contact even though he thought he had held his line. Lanigan brushed off the incident as a racing deal. “We’re racing for $50,000 tonight. I would’ve done the same thing.”
Overton will start seventh in the feature, while Lanigan lines up 11th.
7:19 p.m. | Rough ending for Drown
Doug Drown found himself with a significant problem on the opening lap of the second heat. His fortunes turned even worse, though, a moment later.
“I came together with (Ross) Bailes on the backstretch and lost the brake pedal,” Drown said. “I was worrying about how I’d get into three with that, and then I looked up and saw (Shannon) Babb spun in front of me (after a scrape with Josh Richards). All I could think was I was gonna t-bone him in the driver’s door, so I just locked it up and threw it sideways (hitting Babb with the right side of his car).”
Drown’s Black Diamond Race Car didn’t sustain a bent frame, but “just about all the expensive stuff” was left damaged. It was a disappointing conclusion to a busy weekend for Drown, who broke an engine on Thursday, drove back to his Wooster, Ohio, shop to swap powerplants and then returned to Eldora on Friday.
7:14 p.m. | Bloomquist in the show
Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., easily won the first consolation race, finishing three seconds ahead of Frank Heckenast Jr., who makes the main event after having engine trouble on the first night of action. Former Eldora track champion Jerry Bowersock passed Mason Zeigler with four laps to go to grab the final transfer spot.
First consolation finish: Scott Bloomquist, Frank Heckenast Jr., Jerry Bowersock, Mason Zeigler, Zack Mitchell, Matt Miller, Jon Henry, Gordy Gundaker. DNS: Ross Bailes, Doug Drown, Cory Hedgecock.
7:12 p.m. | Richards, Babb tangle
Shannon Babb was not happy with Josh Richards following the contact that caused him to spin in front of the field on the opening lap of heat two.
“He knocked me out of the way on lap one like a moron,” said Babb, who was clobbered by Doug Drown as a result of the spin and headed to the pits. “It was a total surprise. He came out of nowhere.”
Richards, who went on to finish second in the heat, wouldn’t comment on the incident. He’ll start sixth in the main event, while Babb will use a high-point provisional to start 18th.
Babb initially planned to call it a weekend after the heat race wreck instead of attempting to qualifying through a consolation race. But after realizing he was in line for a provisional, his crew went to work making repairs.
7:07 p.m. | Sitting it out
When the second heat rolled onto the track, scheduled sixth starter Shane Clanton didn’t make the call. Instead, he was standing on the roof of his Skyline Motorsports operation’s trailer dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, done for the night not due to mechanical trouble but a team decision to scratch from competition.
Clanton hurt a motor on Friday and installed a spare powerplant in his Capital Race Car, but he opted to bypass racing after consolation with team owner Greg Bruening.
“We only have two motors right now (in running order) for I-80 (Speedway) next week,” Clanton said, referring to the Greenwood, Neb., track’s Sept. 17-19 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series weekend. “If I mess one up (tonight), I’d be down to only one (for his points-chasing at I-80).”
7 p.m. | Hoping for the best
The smoke trailing from Dennis Erb Jr.’s car in the final laps of his run to a fifth-place finish in Heat 1 wasn’t night-ending, but he’ll head into the first B-main with a bit of trepidation.
“The main oil line blew off,” said Erb’s engine builder Vic Hill, who helped Erb and his crew chief, Heather Lyne, mend the problem and replenish the powerplant’s oil supply. Hill crossed his fingers to signal that he’s hoping the motor did not sustain any other damage.
6:53 p.m. | Consolation lineups
(15 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Scott Bloomquist, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 2: Zack Mitchell, Mason Zeigler
Row 3: Gordy Gundaker, Matt Miller
Row 4: Jerry Bowersock, Ross Bailes
Row 5: Jon Henry, Doug Drown
Row 6: Cory Hedgecock
Row 1: Earl Pearson Jr., Kyle Bronson
Row 2: Hudson O’Neal, Gregg Satterlee
Row 3: Jeep Van Wormer, Logan Martin
Row 4: Kent Robinson, Steven Roberts
Row 5: Bobby Pierce, Jason Feger
Row 6: Mike Marlar
6:47 p.m. | Fergy time
Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C., dominated the final heat, winning by 3.122 seconds ahead of Jonathan Davenport to earn the pole for the 67-lao feature, Davenport finished second, with a hard-charging Scott James finished third and Chad Simpson fourth. Jason Feger slowed on lap two to bring out the first yellow after losing a driveshaft.
Heat four finish: Chris Ferguson, Jonathan Davenport, Scott James, Chad Simpson, Kyle Bronson, Gregg Satteree, Logan Martin, Steven Roberts, Jason Feger.
6:39 p.m. | Heat three to Strickler
Pulling away after he took the lead from Mike Marlar on lap two, Kyle Strickler of Mooresville, N.C., won the third heat. As Strickler went by, Marlar jumped the cushion on lap two exiting turn two, tagging the wall to draw a caution and end his run. Hudson O’Neal had a flat right rear on lap 13 to bring out the second caution. Overton and Lanigan touched on the restart with Overton surging forward to grab the second spot. Lanigan finished third with Jimmy Owens fourth.
Heat three finish: Kyle Strickler, Brandon Overton, Darrell Lanigan, Jimmy Owens, Earl Pearson Jr., Hudson O’Neal, Jeep Van Wormer, Kent Robinson, Bobby Pierce, Mike Marlar.
6:26 p.m. | Madden tops Richards
Polesitter Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., pulled away to win the second heat by 0.863 seconds over Thursday prelim feature winner Josh Richards. Madden planted his Rum Runner Motorsports Longhorn up on the top groove and sailed to the heat with Richards holding the second spot over Brandon Sheppard, who grabbed the third spot from Chase Junghans on lap nine. Junghans held off a closing Frank Heckenast Jr. to secure the final transfer spot.
Heat two finish: Chris Madden, Josh Richards, Brandon Sheppard, Chase Junghans, Frank Heckenast Jr., Mason Zeigler, Matt Miller, Ross Bailes, Shannon Babb, Doug Drown.
6:15 p.m. | Second heat melee
On a wild opening lap in the second heat, Shannon Babb spun in turn three after Josh Richards attempted to go by on the inside. Doug Drown was collected in the spin as he slid into the left side of Babb, who pulled directly back to his pit stall, possibly done for the night.
6:13 p.m. | McDowell wins first heat
Outdueling youngster Spencer Hughes on the first lap, veteran Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., won the first heat race. McDowell finished 1.024 seconds ahead of Ricky Weiss, while Tim McCreadie and Hughes finished third and fourth to earn the final two transfer spots. Fifth-place finisher Dennis Erb Jr. completed the 15-lap heat with his car trailing heavy smoke over the final two laps. McDowell will start fourth in the feature.
First heat finish: Dale McDowell, Ricky Weiss, Tim McCreadie, Spencer Hughes, Dennis Erb Jr., Scott Bloomquist Cory Hedgecock, Zack Mitchell, Gordy Gundaker, Jon Henry.
5:48 p.m. | Trading places?
As he kept an eye on track prep leading up to Saturday’s action, Chris Madden as worried the track may not be favorable to an outside pole starter.
“It’s all about getting through one and two clean. That’s not easy starting on the outside,” Madden said. “A lot of times it’s better start third than second when the track's fast as it’s been here this week.”
Dennis Erb Jr., who starts third in heat one, agreed with Madden’s assessment.
“I definitely wouldn't volunteer to trade,” Erb said when asked if he’d prefer to start second or third. “I tend to like to start on the bottom anyway, but I like it even more tonight.”
5:40 p.m. | Pre-race notes
The first set of hot laps hit the track at precisely 5:30 p.m. with the sun still shining. Saturday’s high temperature has reached the low 80s, producing the warmest day of the weekend. … Jimmy Owens dropped out of Friday’s preliminary feature when he felt something amiss under the hood of his backup Ramirez Motorsports car, which he pulled out after Thursday’s heat action due to an engine malfunction. He made an engine change for Saturday’s finale. … Seven of the 48 invited drivers who started the weekend are scratched from Saturday’s action: Zack Dohm, Kody Evans, Jason Jameson, Ryan King, Josh Rice, Brian Shirley and Ashton Winger. … A four-car invert among the heat winners will be employed for the feature lineup. … The top two drivers in the weekend points standings who don’t qualify through heats will be provisional feature starters in the 17th and 18th spots. … Officials said breaks in the action will be limited to 10-15 minutes to keep the program moving.
5:37 p.m. | B-Shepp primed for finale
No Super Late Model driver in the country has more victories in 2020 than Brandon Sheppard. But can the 27-year-old from New Berlin, Ill., make the Intercontinental Classic his 27th triumph?
Sheppard’s preliminary feature finishes — seventh (from 18th) on Thursday and eighth (after starting third) on Friday — weren’t spectacular. He got behind in qualifying the first evening and slipped out of the top five after a late restart in Friday’s A-main, but he’s confident about the finale with his Rocket Chassis house car.
Of course, Sheppard would like his chances even more if the Eldora track surface isn’t as heavy as it’s been this weekend.
“Hopefully it slows down,” said Sheppard, the 2019 Dream champion. “Racing here isn’t much fun when it’s that fast. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it like that except after it’s rained.”
5:20 p.m. | Tough task for Hughes
With his outside-front-row starting spot in heat one, Spencer Hughes of Meridian, Miss., is in prime position to make his third feature lineup of the weekend and his first Eldora big-race start. But it won’t be any easy task for the 19-year-old Eldora first-timer to finish among the top four.
Hughes has little room for error in the 15-lapper. He’s part of a front three rows that feature Dale McDowell on the pole, Dennis Erb Jr., in third and Tim McCreadie and Scott Bloomquist sharing row three. Those four former Eldora winners collectively have 17 crown jewel wins at the track, and, while fourth-starting Ricky Weiss hasn’t won at Eldora, he’s certainly a contender.
“Just another race,” the even-keeled Hughes said when asked about his thoughts on the lineup. “We’ve been in tough heats before.”
5:14 p.m. | Lake Cumberland bound
Despite solid qualifying efforts during weekend prelims, including third overall on Friday, Warrior Race Cars house car driver Ryan King of Seymour, Tenn., felt compelled to leave Eldora Saturday afternoon and head to Lake Cumberland Speedway in Burnside, Ky., for Saturday’s Schaeffer’s Iron-Man Series race. It was a tough decision for King, who leads the Iron-Man Series point standings. Hoping for a Lake Cumberland rainout, the team hung around Eldora for as long as possible, which included working late into the night to get their Commanche chassis prepped.
“It’s $5,000,” said Warrior’s Mike Nuchols of the potential Iron-Man Series points championship payoff. “We hate to have to make this decision, but the Iron-Man points is a big deal to us. We’ve had two great nights at Eldora … showed what we could do. But unfortunately CT Promotions rescheduled the Harold Hargrove Memorial on top of the last night at Eldora and we can’t win the championship without perfect attendance.”
King was slated to start seventh in Saturday’s third heat.
5:06 p.m. | Nothing like the first time
Shannon Babb has been trekking to Eldora’s major events for so long — since 1996, in fact, when he was a fresh-faced 22-year-old — that everyone figured he must have won a feature over that quarter-century span. Even he initially thought his triumph in Friday’s 30-lap preliminary A-main ended a long victory lane absence at the Big E for him.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been on this (winner’s) stage … I don’t know, about 20 years?” Babb mused after emerging from his Bloomquist Race Car. Shortly thereafter, when asked in the tech inspection area if he could remember winning at Eldora, he said, “In ’07 didn’t I win a race? Honestly, I don’t remember. I really don’t. It’s been a long time, I can tell you that.”
Actually, the now 46-year-old driver had never before captured a feature at Eldora. A historical review failed to find an Eldora victory for Babb, and on Saturday a clear-headed Babb confirmed that the prelim was indeed his first success at the track where he famously was stripped of his apparent 2005 World 100 checkered flag for weighing in light.
“I’ve been coming here a long time,” Babb said. “It’s great to finally win one.”
Babb had finished second several times at Eldora, including in the 2006 World 100, a July 2007 World of Outlaws feature and a Night 1 preliminary A-main during the ’16 World 100. His WoO runner-up was especially noteworthy; he charged forward from the 24th starting spot and slid in front of leader Earl Pearson Jr. in turn four with the checkered flag flying but hopped the cushion and watched Pearson cross under him to reach the finish line 0.352 of a second ahead.
4 p.m. | Earlier start
Eldora officials announced during Friday night’s program that Saturday’s action will begin with hot laps at 5:30 p.m. — one hour earlier than originally scheduled — due to a rising probability of showers and thunderstorms as the evening progresses.
Four 15-lap heat races and two B-mains will precede the 67-lap Intercontinental Classic feature, which runs over the same distance as June’s Dirt Late Model Stream Invitational finale. With no time trials like on Thursday and Friday, the show can be spun off in rapid-fire fashion to beat the weather.
Forecasts have improved today — the chance of rain now appears to rise more towards midnight — but officials would rather be safe than sorry with the event’s time schedule.
3:45 p.m. | Just a spectator
Zack Dohm would like to be in Eldora’s pit area preparing for Saturday night’s Intercontinental Classic finale. But after breaking an engine on the last lap of his Friday heat-race victory, the Cross Lanes, W.Va., driver’s weekend came to a bitter end.
Not his stay at Eldora, though. Dohm’s hauler is still parked on the grounds in the upper pit area outside turn three, and a couple hours before the start of Saturday’s hot laps he was standing outside his hauler in shorts and a T-Shirt, grilling burgers for his team members.
“The guys wanted to go home,” Dohm related. “I said, ‘Hell, we’re here. We’re staying to watch. We can work on the car tomorrow.’”
So the 31-year-old and his crew will be fans on Saturday, taking advantage of their entry in the event to be one of the few non-participants to view in-person a race run in front of empty grandstands due to Covid-19 crowd restrictions. When he returns to his shop he’ll replace his ailing powerplant with a fresh one coming back from Vic Hill’s shop in Tennessee and then head to next Saturday’s $20,059-to-win Butterball Memorial at Richmond (Ky.) Raceway.
Saturday’s heat lineups
(15 laps: top four transfer)
Row 1: Dale McDowell, Spencer Hughes
Row 2: Dennis Erb Jr., Ricky Weiss
Row 3: Tim McCreadie, Scott Bloomquist
Row 4: Cory Hedgecock, Zack Mitchell
Row 5: Zack Dohm, Jon Henry
Row 6: Gordy Gundaker, Jerry Bowersock
Row 1: Chase Junghans, Chris Madden
Row 2: Shannon Babb, Brandon Sheppard
Row 3: Josh Richards, Shane Clanton
Row 4: Ross Bailes, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 5: Mason Zeigler, Doug Drown
Row 6: Matt Miller, Kody Evans
Row 1: Mike Marlar, Darrell Lanigan
Row 2: Kyle Strickler, Jimmy Owens
Row 3: Brandon Overton, Bobby Pierce
Row 4: Jason Jameson, Kent Robinson
Row 5: Hudson O’Neal, Jeep Van Wormer
Row 6: Earl Pearson Jr., Josh Rice
Row 1: Chad Simpson, Jason Feger
Row 2: Kyle Bronson, Chris Ferguson
Row 3: Jonathan Davenport, Steven Roberts
Row 4: Ryan King, Gregg Satterlee
Row 5: Scott James, Logan Martin
Row 6: Ashton Winger, Brian Shirley
Noon: Hauler staging in Camping Lots 1 and 2 (any hauler that left following Friday’s event)
12:30 p.m.: Medical screening (manufacturers, support and vendors)
1 p.m.: Medical screening (race teams at haulers)
1:15-4 p.m.: Hauler parking
1:30-4 p.m.: Inspection and registration
2:30 p.m.: Medical screening (broadcast team)
4 p.m.: Virtual drivers’ meeting
5:30 p.m.: Hot laps/multi-car qualifying by group
6:30 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
Preliminary point totals
Pos. Driver - Total (Thursday-Friday)
1. Tim McCreadie, 1,436 (727-709)
2. Josh Richards, 1,435 (739-696)
3. Brandon Overton, 1,402 (741-661)
4. Jonathan Davenport, 1,381 (689-692)
5. Ricky Weiss, 1,374 (729-645)
6. Brandon Sheppard, 1,363 (694-669)
7. Jimmy Owens, 1,352 (695-657)
8. Chris Ferguson, 1,349 (625-724)
9. Dennis Erb Jr., 1,340 (652-688)
10. Shannon Babb, 1,332 (632-700)
11. Kyle Strickler, 1,308 (584-724)
12. Kyle Bronson, 1,304 (634-670)
13. Spencer Hughes, 1,284 (662-622)
14. Chris Madden, 1,282 (656-626)
15. Darrell Lanigan, 1,279 (588-691)
16. Jason Feger, 1,268 (676-592)
17. Dale McDowell, 1,262 (586-676)
18. Chase Junghans, 1,258 (678-580)
19. Mike Marlar, 1,248 (604-644)
20. Chad Simpson, 1,234 (674-560)
21. Scott Bloomquist, 1,218 (554-664)
22. Shane Clanton, 1,210 (664-546)
23. Bobby Pierce, 1,204 (552-652)
24. Steven Roberts, 1,190 (622-568)
25. Cory Hedgecock, 1,190 (614-576)
26. Ross Bailes, 1,182 (570-612)
27. Jason Jameson, 1,182 (576-606)
28. Ryan King, 1,178 (540-638)
29. Zack Mitchell, 1,177 (633-544)
30. Frank Heckenast Jr., 1,170 (536-634)
31. Kent Robinson, 1,168 (584-584)
32. Gregg Satterlee, 1,164 (622-542)
33. Zack Dohm, 1,164 (608-556)
34. Mason Zeigler, 1,154 (556-598)
35. Hudson O’Neal, 1,148 (566-582)
36. Scott James, 1,144 (574-570)
37. Jon Henry, 1,138 (570-568)
38. Doug Drown, 1,136 (554-582)
39. Jeep Van Wormer, 1,134 (568-566)
40. Logan Martin, 1,132 (568-564)
41. Gordy Gundaker, 1,122 (572-550)
42. Matt Miller, 1,122 (558-564)
43. Earl Pearson Jr., 1,114 (562-552)
44. Ashton Winger, 1,112 (558-554)
45. Jerry Bowerstock, 1,104 (546-558)
46. Kody Evans, 1,104 (558-546
47. Josh Rice, 640 (640-0)
48. Brian Shirley, 532 (532-0)