BRUNSWICK, Ga. (Feb. 7) — In the Georgia Boot Super Bowl of Racing weekend finale, Jonathan Davenport finally finished. The Blairsville, Ga., driver's redemption for two frustrating nights of failure paid $10,000 on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
The fast qualifier three nights in a row at Golden Isles Speedway, Davenport led features each of the previous two nights but fell by the wayside because of radiator damage (Thursday, when Eddie Carrier Jr. won) and a broken right-front suspension (Friday, when Earl Pearson Jr. won).
On Saturday, things came together for the polesitting Davenport as he withstood a mid-race charge from Jared Landers, then stayed far ahead of any challenges the final 20 laps for his fifth career Lucas Oil victory and first since September at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway.
“The third time’s a charm,” said Davenport, who concentrated on finding the smoothest way around the racetrack. “It finally worked out for us.”
Pearson, the Jacksonville, Fla., driver who started on the front row with Davenport, finished .892 seconds behind as the runner-up while Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., rallied from 12th to finish third. Sixteenth-starting Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., survived some tussling with Ross Bailes of Clover, S.C., as they finished fourth and fifth.
The sixth-starting Landers, of Batesville, Ark., took the lead from Davenport on the 23rd lap but lost it seven laps later when his left-rear wheel ripped off the hub. Landers pitted for a new wheel, but his race ended when climbed the backstretch wall on lap 42.
“It feels great, you know. We definitely had to jump some hurdles tonight,” Davenport said. “Jared, breaking a wheel in front of us, I about hit him. And we had that last-lap restart; you can’t ever tell what’s going to happen there. But everything stayed in one piece. I was smart enough to stay out of the holes this time and not tear my stuff up for the end, and everything worked out in our favor.”
Pearson never had anything for Davenport, but he secured the Lucas Oil points lead after two races.
“He had the better car,” Pearson said of Davenport. “We were a second-place car tonight.”
Davenport jumped to a near immediate half-straightaway lead at the outset over Bailes with Pearson, Donald McIntosh and Landers giving chase. With Davenport in command, Landers began picking his way to the front, taking fourth from McIntosh on the fourth lap and then taking third from Pearson on a restart two laps later.
Landers used another restart to close off Bailes entering turn one on lap 16, and suddenly he was the first driver to turn up the heat on Davenport. Suddenly Davenport looked beatable as Landers wedged his car underneath in turn two to take command on the 23rd lap while Davenport appeared to lose his edge before the halfway point.
Davenport, however, closed in to pressure the lead on lap 30, just before the left rear wheel of Landers ripped off his car and bounded up the racetrack, leaving him stuck in the infield mud at the top of the frontstretch.
From there, Davenport didn’t have any trouble as he reasserted control, but there was plenty of action behind him with Bailes getting shuffled back on the lap-30 restart and Pearson moving into second.
After Steve Francis gave up the fourth spot with his overheating car during a lap-39 caution, Bailes tried to work back into contention, squeezing Bloomquist into the frontstretch wall on the 40th lap regaining the third spot.
With Davenport and Pearson still running 1-2, Sheppard dropped Bailes to fourth on a restart, then Bloomquist — who sent Bailes a signal of his displeasure during a caution period — took him nearly to the wall between turns three and four to slip by for the fourth spot with four laps remaining.
The white flag flew for Davenport, but another lost wheel — this time off the car of Mike Benedum in nearly the same spot as Landers in turn four — necessitated another yellow, only delaying Davenport’s celebration.
The feature was slowed by seven cautions, none for serious incidents.
Chris Brown spun between turns three and four on the fifth lap, giving Devin Moran nowhere to go. A lapped Jay Sessoms got help going around on the frontstretch on lap 15. Gregg Satterlee slowed atop turn four on the 21st lap. The lost wheel of Landers brought out a lap-30 yellow.
Another caution appeared on lap 39 when Eddie Carrier Jr. slowed with a flat tire and Jason Papich rolled to the infield, and then on lap 42 for the departure of Landers. The final yellow came out on lap 49 for Benedum’s wheel.
Notes: Davenport has three Golden Isles victories in the last four Speedweeks, the only driver with multiple victories in Super Late Model action during that span. … Like Davenport, third-finishing Brandon Sheppard also overcame bad luck on the previous two nights. He faltered leading on the last lap Thursday and broke a motor running second with four laps remaining Friday. … Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., was running fourth before the lap-39 restart but pulled his overheating car to the pits and returned on lap 42. …. Fourteen drivers completed 50 laps with reigning series champ Don O’Neal 14th. … The series takes a day off before six straight nights of racing at East Bay Raceway Park’s 39th annual Winternationals.
Consolation race results
First consolation (top three transfer): Kenny Pettyjohn, Devin Moran, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Steven Roberts, Jason Papich. Scratched: Dan Schlieper, Jimmy Owens, Russell Brown Jr.
Second consolation (top three transfer): Gregg Satterlee, Kyle Bronson, Mike Benedum, Dennis Franklin, Austin Rettig, Kelly Guy, Doug Sanders, Chris Madden.
(10 laps; top three transfer)
Row 1: Kenny Pettyjohn, Ivedent Lloyd Jr.
Row 2: Steven Roberts, Jason Papich
Row 3: Dan Schlieper, Devin Moran
Row 4: Jimmy Owens, Russell Brown Jr.
Row 1: Mike Benedum, Gregg Satterlee
Row 2: Chris Madden, Kyle Bronson
Row 3: Dennis Franklin, Austin Rettig
Row 4: Kelly Guy, Doug Sanders
Billy Moyer Jr. took control immediately from his pole position and raced to a 10-lap victory over Texan Chris Brown. Brandon Sheppard was a bit further back in third while Scott Bloomquist slipped under Gregg Satterlee on a mid-race restart to earn the final transfer spot. Satterlee settled for fifth. Doug Sanders spun in turn two on the fourth lap for the heat's lone yellow flag.
Finish (top four transfer): Billy Moyer Jr., Chris Brown, Brandon Sheppard, Scott Bloomquist, Gregg Satterlee, Kyle Bronson, Austin Rettig, Doug Sanders.
Outside front-row starter and Friday's winner Earl Pearson Jr. fought off repeated inside challenges from polesitter Jared Landers to win the third heat. Landers worked the extreme low groove to no avail, although he nearly pulled alongside exiting turn four heading for the checkers. Stormy Scott hung with them a few laps but fell back to settle for third while Dennis Erb Jr. got the final transfer spot in the caution-free prelim. Former Golden Isles winner Chris Madden was a non-factor in sixth.
Finish (top four transfer): Earl Pearson Jr., Jared Landers, Stormy Scott, Dennis Erb Jr., Mike Benedum, Chris Madden, Dennis Franklin, Kelly Guy.
Polesitting Ross Bailes cruised to victory in the second heat, keeping runner-up Austin Kirkpatrick in check. Don O'Neal ran steady in third all the way while the fourth spot — far behind the top three — was up for grabs most of the way. Third-starting Jay Sessoms fought off challenges from Ivedent Lloyd Jr. to transfer to his first feature of the weekend while Jason Papich and Devin Moran headed to the consy with Lloyd.
Finish (top four transfer): Ross Bailes, Austin Kirkpatrick, Don O'Neal, Jay Sessoms, Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Jason Papich, Devin Moran. Scratched: Russell Brown Jr.
Polesitter Jonathan Davenport edged away from a good jump by fellow front-row starter Donald McIntosh and cruised to a 10-lap victory. McIntosh lost a spot to Eddie Carrier Jr. on an early restart but regained the position a few laps later. Carrier and Steve Francis picked up the final two transfer spots. Three-time series champ Jimmy Owens slapped the turn-four wall on the first lap, causing significant damage to the right side of his car. As Owens limped to the pits, Steven Roberts and Dan Schlieper tangled in turn two, drawing a caution. Another caution appeared when Schlieper slowed on the fourth lap, dumping fluid on the frontstretch.
Finish (top four transfer): Jonathan Davenport, Donald McIntosh, Eddie Carrier Jr., Steve Francis, Kenny Pettyjohn, Steven Roberts, Dan Schlieper, Jimmy Owens.
Heat race lineups
(Eight laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, Donald McIntosh
Row 2: Eddie Carrier Jr., Jimmy Owens
Row 3: Steve Francis, Dan Schlieper
Row 4: Kenny Pettyjohn, Steven Roberts
Row 1: Ross Bailes, Austin Kirkpatrick
Row 2: Jay Sessoms, Don O'Neal
Row 3: Jason Papich, Devin Moran
Row 4: Ivedent Lloyd Jr., Russell Brown Jr.
Row 1: Jared Landers, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 2: Stormy Scott, Mike Benedum
Row 3: Dennis Erb Jr., Chris Madden
Row 4: Dennis Franklin, Kelly Guy
Row 1: Billy Moyer Jr., Chris Brown
Row 2: Brandon Sheppard, Gregg Satterlee
Row 3: Scott Bloomquist, Kyle Bronson
Row 4: Austin Rettig, Doug Sanders
Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., completed a sweep of time trials at the Super Bowl of Racing by ripping off a 15.213-second lap at the 4/10-mile oval, putting him on the pole for the first heat race.
Davenport also set fast time Thursday and Friday and went on to lead both feature races before falling by the wayside.
Saturday’s other heat race polesitters: Ross Bailes of Clover, S.C.; Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark., and Billy Moyer Jr., also of Batesville.
The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will be back to Golden Isles for the Super Bowl of Racing for the third straight season in 2016 with a purse upgrade, officials announced. The Feb. 4-6 event will pay $7,000-to-win Thursday, $10,000-to-win Friday and $15,000-to-win Saturday (that’s $5,000 more to Saturday’s winner and a bigger purse overall). … Eddie Carrier Jr. (Thursday) and Earl Pearson Jr. (Friday) are winners so far this weekend. ... Austin Rettig of Sikeston, Mo., has gone to a backup car after engine problems in his primary ride. ... Brandon Sheppard's team made an engine change after falling out of Friday's main running second with four laps remaining. ... The car count has stayed steady in the low 30s all weekend. … Mack McCarter of Sevierville, Tenn., is the only Friday entrant not entered Saturday. … The Southern Thunder Late Model Series is again on the undercard with 30 entries.
Time trials (unofficial)
Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., 15.213
Ross Bailes (5e), Clover, S.C., 15.712
Donald McIntosh (7), Dawsonville, Ga., 15.726
Austin Kirkpatrick (11), Ocala, Fla., 15.755
Eddie Carrier Jr. (28), Salt Rock, W.Va., 15.756
Jay Sessoms (84), Stanley, N.C., 15.771
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.806
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 15.863
Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 15.880
Jason Papich (91p), Nipomo, Calif., 15.943
Dan Schlieper (s9), Sullivan, Wis., 16.008
Devin Moran (99m), Dresden, Ohio, 16.019
Kenny Pettyjohn (38), Millsboro, Del., 16.114
Ivedent Lloyd Jr. (21), Ocala, Fla., 16.133
Steven Roberts (111), Jesup, Ga., 16.242
Russell Brown Jr. (00), Valdosta, Ga., no time
Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 15.461
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 15.561
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.608
Chris Brown (21), Spring, Texas, 15.692
Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.712
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 15.803
Mike Benedum (25), Bristol, W.Va., 15.863
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 15.961
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.962
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.968
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 15.974
Kyle Bronson (40b), Brandon, Fla., 16.015
Dennis Franklin (2), Gaffney, S.C., 16.101
Austin Rettig (94), Sikeston, Mo., 16.102
Kelly Guy (28), Thomson, Ga., 16.132
Doug Sanders (42), Springwood, N.C., 16.326