WHEATLAND, Mo. (May 21) — Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., tamed a confounding track surface to emerge triumphant in Thursday night’s 45-lap Midwest LateModel Racing Association Cowboy Classic at Lucas Speedway Speedway.
Kicking off the 23rd annual Lucas Oil Show-Me 100 Presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com weekend in style, Davenport charged to the outside of the 3/8-mile oval to overtake polesitter and race-long leader Will Vaught of Crane, Mo., for the top spot on lap 11 and never looked back. The 31-year-old driver built an edge of as much as a full straightaway before crossing the finish line a more modest 1.462 seconds in front of Billings, Mo.’s Jesse Stovall.
The $5,045 victory was Davenport’s first-ever at Lucas Oil Speedway, which was updated with more banking and new clay for the 2015 season.
“It got so patchy-slick and rough,” Davenport said of the challenging track surface. “I don’t know how the race was back behind me, but it sure was exciting where I was at. You could just miss your line by a little bit and you’d be like a sitting duck, or you could hit it just right and have all the traction in the world.”
Stovall, who started 13th, came on strong in the closing laps to earn his second bridesmaid finish in three starts this season at Wheatland. He went between Eddie Carrier Jr. of Salt Rock, W.Va., and Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark., to grab second place on lap 35 and sliced Davenport’s straightaway lead in half over the remaining circuits but ran out of time to mount a serious bid for the checkered flag.
Landers, who won an MLRA event at Lucas Oil Speedway last month, settled for third after swapping the runner-up position twice with Carrier between laps 27 and 30. Jason Utter of Columbus Junction, Iowa, shot by Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., and Carrier on lap 37 to reach fourth and finished in the position while Carrier slipped to fifth in the final rundown after starting second.
Davenport, who started fifth in a Longhorn Race Car that his K&L Rumley team repaired after he damaged it in a qualifying accident during the May 15 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event at Oshkosh (Wis.) Speedzone Raceway, was able to seize control of the feature after becoming one of the first drivers to discover the track’s outside lane.
“The line changed a couple times,” said Davenport, who won for the first time in his career on the MLRA tour. “All night the top was really no good and the middle was better, but you had to start slowing down so much to stay in the middle so I went to the top and found it just before that caution come out (on lap eight). Then, luckily, (second place) Eddie (Carrier) chose the bottom on that restart so that give me the top, and I got by him up there.”
Though Davenport appeared to be in complete command of the event once he moved into the lead, he was certainly not worry-free.
“I almost thought I got the lead too early because after I got going on the top, after about five or six laps, it seemed like it really shined up like everybody had moved up there,” said Davenport, who only previous visits to Wheatland came in 2011 (finished 22nd in the Show-Me 100 driving for Barry Wright) and 2012 (seventh in the Show-Me and 15th in July’s Diamond Nationals running for Clint Bowyer). “Then I started searching around and I was kind of lost, I didn’t know where to go.
“I basically just moved back to the middle and just tried to save what I could for the end, just hope I had enough left.”
Despite running the entire distance with his car in high gear — a transmission problem that developed when he rolled onto the track for pace laps — and wondering if his recent run of misfortune would continue, Davenport made it to the finish without incident.
“We’ve been running good but had some black luck so it’s good to get this monkey off our back,” Davenport said. “I think we got some good notes and maybe we can keep it going through the weekend. As long as the racetrack is like it is now, we’ll have as good a shot as anybody in the pit area.”
Stovall, 34, was a very satisfied runner-up. The current MARS DIRTcar Series point leader made a noteworthy rally from an early slip that cost him positions and nearly prompted him to retire from further action.
“When I screwed up and run off the end (of the track) that one lap and then we had a caution, I thought about pulling off,” said Stovall, who drove a Black Diamond car he fields in conjunction with Bill Swafford of Poplar Bluff, Mo. “Then I was like, ‘Well, maybe we’ll go one more time here and see what happens,’ and (following the restart) I just kept getting that middle groove to work pretty good for me.
“It was kind of rough-and-tumble and you didn’t know what was gonna happen every lap, but I got me a little rhythm going toward the end there. I figured out what I needed to do every time I entered the corner."
Would Stovall have been able to unseat Davenport if he had a few more laps to work with? He wouldn’t go that far, though he certainly closed the gap in the final laps.
“I felt like it got better the longer race went and we burned some fuel off,” Stovall said. “I’m sure Jonathan was just riding so as soon as you get to him it was gonna be a whole different race, but we’ve got a good hot rod.”
Three caution flags slowed the feature, including a slowdown on lap 13 when Vaught relinquished second place because flames shooting from his car’s engine forced him to pull into the infield. The race’s first caution flag flew on lap when Tony Jackson Jr. of Lebanon, Mo., spun in turn four to trigger a multi-car tangle that included Jason Papich of Nipomo, Calif., Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., and Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., and the final yellow came on lap 29 when Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., spun in turn four after apparent contact with Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., as they battled for seventh place.
Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., started and finished sixth after contending for a top-three spot early in the race. Sheppard charged forward from the 22nd starting spot to finish seven while Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., crossed the finish line in eighth after climbing as high as third. Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., and Garrett Alberson of Las Cruces, N.M. — the race’s 21st and 20th starters, respectively — rounded out the top 10.
First B-Main finish (top 2 transfer): Dave Eckrich, Brandon Sheppard, Dustin Walker, Matt Johnson, Jeremy Payne, Randy Weaver, Chris Simpson, Billy Moyer Jr., Brandon McCormick, Bobby Pierce, Mark Dotson, Levi Kissinger, Brian Shirley, R.C. Whitwell, Cole Farmer, Timothy Culp, Cliff Morrow, Kyle Berck, Steve Johnson, Jeff Roth.
Second B-Main finish (top 2 transfer): Garrett Alberson, Kent Robinson, Austin Rettig, Raymond Merrill, Shane Essary, J.C. Wyman, Jacob Magee, Chris Spieker, Kip Hughes, Austin Siebert, Randy Timms, Robert Baker, Hunter Rasdon, John Driskill, Bryon Allison, Darin Busch, Dan Shepherd, Don O'Neal, Brantlee Gotschall, Junior Coover, Jeff Roth.
Third B-Main finish (top 2 transfer): Shannon Babb, Jason Bodenhamer, Earl Pearson Jr., Jim Shereck, Jason Feger, Kyle Beard, Ryan Gustin, Devin Moran, Cole Wells, Wendell Wallace, Terry Phillips, Brian Schutt, Jason O'Brien, Jake O'Neil, Charles LaPlant, Larry Jones, Gavin Landers, Cody Holtkamp, Randy Roth, Colby Johnson.
Will Vaught picked the pole position in the feature redraw, which included all heat transfers. The heat winners picked for positions 1-6, runners-up drew for spots 7-12 and third-place finishers selected 13th through 18th place starts.
(15 laps; top 2 transfer)
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Dave Eckrich
Row 2: Matt Johnson, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 3: Dustin Walker, Bobby Pierce
Row 4: Jeremy Payne, Brian Shirley
Row 5: Randy Weaver, Brandon McCormick
Row 6: Chris Simpson, Kyle Berck
Row 7: Mark Dotson, Jeff Roth
Row 8: Chad Wheeler, Timothy Culp
Row 9: Levi Kissinger, Cole Farmer
Row 10: R.C. Whitwell, Cliff Morrow
Row 11: Steve Johnson
Row 1: Kent Robinson, Garrett Alberson
Row 2: Hunter Rasdon, Raymond Merrill
Row 3: Shane Essary, Austin Siebert
Row 4: Kip Hughes, J.C. Wyman
Row 5: Chris Spieker, Jacob Magee
Row 6: Randy Timms, Austin Rettig
Row 7: John Driskill, Dan Shepherd
Row 8: Darin Busch, Bryon Allison
Row 9: Brantlee Gotschall, Junior Coover
Row 10: Don O’Neal, Robert Baker
Row 11: Jimmy Mars
Row 1: Jason Bodenhamer, Shannon Babb
Row 2: Jason Feger, Jim Shereck
Row 3: Kyle Beard, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 4: Cole Wells, Devin Moran
Row 5: Ryan Gustin, Wendell Wallace
Row 6: Terry Phillips, Brian Schutt
Row 7: Charles LaPlant, Cody Holtkamp
Row 8: Jake O'Neil, Larry Jones
Row 9: Jason O'Brien, Gavin Landers
Row 10: Randy Roth
Will Vaught cruised to victory in the final prelim, leading the entire distance and defeating Jason Rauen by commanding margin. Dennis Erb Jr. finished third and fourth went to Shannon Babb, who had an early scare on lap two when Gavin Landers spun in front of him on the backstretch to bring out a caution flag.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Will Vaught, Jason Rauen, Dennis Erb Jr., Shannon Babb, Jim Shereck, Earl Pearson Jr., Devin Moran, Wendell Wallace, Brian Schutt, Cody Holtkamp, Larry Jones, Gavin Landers, Randy Roth.
Jimmy Owens led the entire distance, but he had to turn back a late challenge from Scott Bloomquist — and Jesse Stovall might have been the race's fastest car in the final laps as he ran down the top two finishers and placed a close third. Polesitter Cole Wells got sideways in turn two on the opening lap and immediately fell to fourth; he ultimately finished seventh.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Jimmy Owens, Scott Bloomquist, Jesse Stovall, Jason Bodenhamer, Jason Feger, Kyle Beard, Cole Wells, Ryan Gustin, Terry Phillips, Charles LaPlant, Jake O'Neil, Jason O'Brien, Colby Johnson.
Eddie Carrier Jr. outgunned polesitter Chris Brown for the lead at the initial green flag and led the entire distance. Chris Brown finished second after swapping the spot twice with Chad Simpson, who settled for third. Don O'Neal was racing in fourth place on the seventh lap when he spun between turns three and four; the proceeded to retire to the pit area. Austin Rettig brought out a lap-four caution when he slid high and spun in turn four. Robert Baker, who finished second in last year's MLRA Cowboy Classic, had a rough outing; he spun between turns one and two on the first lap and slapped the wall in turns three and four the following circuit after restarting at the rear.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Eddie Carrier Jr., Chris Brown, Chad Simpson, Garrett Alberson, Raymond Merrill, Austin Siebert, J.C. Wyman, Jacob Magee, Austin Rettig, Don Shepherd, Bryon Allison, Junior Coover, Don O'Neal, Robert Baker.
Jonathan Davenport ran away from the pack, beating Jason utter by a straightaway in a flag-to-flag performance. Californian Jason Papich placed, staying ahead of Kent Robinson after a lap-seven caution flag for John Driskill's turn-four spin. Brantlee Gotschall spun on the first lap in turn four and headed to the pits during the ensuing caution period. Jimmy Mars, who showed smoke during time trials, did not start the heat.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Jonathan Davenport, Jason Utter, Jason Papich, Kent Robinson, Hunter Rasdon, Shane Essary, Kip Hughes, Chris Spieker, Randy Timms, John Driskill, Darin Busch, Brantlee Gotschall (DNS) Jimmy Mars.
Jared Landers dominatd the action, leading all the way and winning by a straightaway over Tony Jackson Jr. in the caution-free event. Billy Moyer finished third after slipping past Dave Eckrich for third off turn two on lap seven.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Jared Landers, Tony Jackson Jr., Billy Moyer, Dave Eckrich, Billy Moyer Jr., Bobby Pierce, Brian Shirley, Brandon McCormick, Kyle Berck, Jeff Roth, Timothy Culp, Cole Farmer, Cliff Morrow.
Scott Lewis led all the way in the first heat, but Chase Junghans made a late run to draw within a couple car lengths at the checkered flag. Steve Francis finished a distant third, while Brandon Sheppard missed transferring with a fourth-place finish. A caution flew on the opening circuit for a turn-four tangle involving Dustin Walker, Steve Johnson and Levi Kissinger; all three drivers got their spots back for the restart because they were involved in a multi-car incident before one lap was completed.
Finish (top 3 transfer): Scott Lewis, Chase Junghans, Steve Francis, Brandon Sheppard, Matt Johnson, Dustin Walker, Jeremy Payne, Randy Weaver, Chris Simpson, Mark Dotson, Chad Wheeler, Levi Kissinger, R.C. Whitwell, Steve Johnson.
Scott Lewis of Henderson, Colo., turned a lap of 15.348 seconds during the first group of time trials, giving him the overall fastest circuit of the 80-car qualifying session. The effort earned him the pole position for the evening's first heat race.
Lucas Oil Series rookie contender Chris Brown of Spring, Texas, was quickest in the second group, turning a lap of 15.958 seconds lae in the session to unseat Cole Wells of Aurora, Mo.
Joining Lewis and Brown as heat-race polesitters are Wells, Jared Landers, Jonathan Davenport and Will Vaught.
Qualifying was largely free of problems save a turn-four wall slap by R.C. Whitwell of Tucson, Ariz., who is driving Nebraskan Al Humphery's machine, and a fourth-corner spin by Levi Kessinger of Mt. Vernon, Ind.
Lucas Oil Speedway’s immaculate paved pit area is crowded with 80 Dirt Late Models on Thursday night as the 23rd annual Lucas Oil Show-Me 100 presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com opens with the Cowboy Classic for the Lucas Oil Midwest LateModel Association tour, the cousin of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
Defending race champion Don O’Neal leads the list of former Show-Me 100 winners ready for action. He’s joined by Bloomquist, Jimmy Owens, Billy Moyer, Terry Phillips and Wendell Wallace.
Tonight’s program will follow the same format as the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series-sanctioned Show-Me 100 on Friday and Saturday. Drivers will be split into two groups for time trials, with the results from the first lining up Heats 1-3 and those from the second aligning Heats 4-6. All 18 heat-race qualifiers will redraw for feature starting spots — winners picking positions 1-6, second-place finishers 7-12 and third-place finishers 13-18. The feature redraw system will also be used for Saturday night’s Show-Me 100.
Tonight's feature will run over the 45-lap distance in honor of late MLRA founder Cowboy Chancellor, whose number was 45 when he raced. His final season behind the wheel was in 2013 when he competed in the Late Model division at Lucas Oil Speedway.
Tonight’s drivers’ meeting is set for 6:15 p.m. CT. Hot laps are scheduled for 6:45 p.m. with time trials kicking off the competitive portion of the show at 7:35 p.m.
Tonight’s program marks the third straight year that the Show-Me 100 weekend commences with a Thursday-night tuneup sanctioned by the MLRA. The event was given the Cowboy Classic name last year in honor of late series co-owner Allen “Cowboy” Chancellor, who died in April 2014. … Mostly sunny skies and comfortable temperatures in the 60s have greeted Show-Me 100 attendees. … The 80-car field (Cody Holtkamp was a late arrival to push the car count to an even 80) is the largest of any Dirt Late Model event so far in 2015. … Billy Moyer is debuting a brand-new Moyer Victory Race Car — the first of its kind to come out of his uncle Carl’s Karl Performance shop in Des Moines, Iowa. … Devin Moran, who sits fifth in the Lucas Oil Series points standings entering the weekend, is set to make his first-ever start at Wheatland. The 20-year-old said he accompanied his famed racing father, Donnie, to an event at the oval almost a decade ago but doesn’t remember much about the visit. … Chase Junghans is in tonight’s field, stopping in at Wheatland for only the MLRA show on his way from Manhattan, Kan., to the Saturday-Sunday World of Outlaws Late Model Series events at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va. … The two-car Childress Racing effort will see regular driver Garrett Alberson behind the wheel of a Day-Glo yellow machine and newly-hired special-event chauffeur Chris Simpson in a bright orange — and brand new — Black Diamond mount. … Joining Scott Bloomquist’s crew for the second consecutive weekend is Jason Quirin of Belleville, Ill., who in recent years has provided full-time help to such drivers as Bub McCool and Kent Robinson. … Normally tonight's action would be called by Lucas Oil Series announcer James Essex, but business commitments prevented him from leaving his Hope, Ind., home early enough to attend the Show-Me opener. His familiar voice will boom over the p.a. system on Friday and Saturday.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top 3 transfer)
Row 1: Scott Lewis, Steve Francis
Row 2: Chase Junghans, Dustin Walker
Row 3: Brandon Sheppard, Steve Johnson
Row 4: Jeremy Payne, Chad Wheeler
Row 5: Chris Simpson, Matt Johnson
Row 6: Mark Dotson, Randy Weaver
Row 7: Levi Kissinger, R.C. Whitwell
Row 1: Jared Landers, Tony Jackson Jr.
Row 2: Dave Eckrich, Billy Moyer
Row 3: Bobby Pierce, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 4: Brian Shirley, Brandon McCormick
Row 5: Jeff Roth, Cole Farmer
Row 6: Kyle Berck, Timothy Culp
Row 7: Cliff Morrow
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, Jason Utter
Row 2: Hunter Rasden, Jimmy Mars
Row 3: Chris Spieker, Brantlee Gotschall
Row 4: Jason Papich, Shane Essary
Row 5: Kent Robinson, Randy Timms
Row 6: Darin Busch, John Driskill
Row 7: Kip Hughes
Row 1: Chris Brown, Eddie Carrier Jr.
Row 2: Chad Simpson, Don O’Neal
Row 3: Robert Baker, Raymond Merrill
Row 4: Garrett Alberson, Austin Siebert
Row 5: Jacob Magee, Austin Rettig
Row 6: Bryon Allison, Junior Coover
Row 7: J.C. Wyman, Dan Shepherd
Row 1: Cole Wells, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Scott Bloomquist, Jason Bodenhamer
Row 3: Kyle Beard, Jesse Stovall
Row 4: Jake O’Neil, Jason Feger
Row 5: Ryan Gustin, Charles LaPlant
Row 6: Terry Phillips, Jason O'Brien
Row 7: Colby Johnson
Row 1: Will Vaught, Wendell Wallace
Row 2: Jason Rauen, Gavin Landers
Row 3: Brian Schutt, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 4: Shannon Babb, Jim Shereck
Row 5: Devin Moran, Larry Jones
Row 6: Earl Pearson Jr., Randy Roth
Row 7: Cody Holkamp
Time trials results
Scott Lewis (99L), Henderson, Colo., 15.348
Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 15.502
Jonathan Davenport (6), Blairsville, Ga., 15.562
Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 15.789
Tony Jackson Jr. (56), Lebanon, Mo., 15.804
Jason Utter (31), Columbus Junction, Iowa, 15.824
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 15.846
Dave Eckrich (58), Oxford, Iowa, 15.895
Hunter Rasdon (R5), Jonesboro, Ark., 15.896
Dustin Walker (14W), Peculiar, Mo., 15.935
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 15.969
Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 15.978
Brandon Sheppard (b5), New Berlin, Ill., 16.035
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 16.038
Chris Spieker (56s), Massena, Iowa, 16.083
Steve Johnson (116), Joplin, Mo., 16.095
Billy Moyer Jr. (21Jr), Batesville, Ark., 16.174
Brantlee Gotschall (4G), Nevada, Mo., 16.215
Jeremy Payne (186), Springfield, Mo., 16.219
Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 16.245
Jason Papich (91P), Nipomo, Calif., 16.249
Chad Wheeler (188), Muskogee, Okla., 16.252
Brandon McCormick (42), Lebaon, Mo., 16.289
Shane Essary (15s), Aurora, Mo., 16.308
Chris Simpson (R5), Oxford, Iowa, 16.325
Jeff Roth (14R), Bentonville, Ark., 16.339
Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind., 16.349
Matt Johnson (5J), Archie, Mo., 16.414
Cole Farmer (26F), Glenwood, Ark., 16.474
Randy Timms (5T), Wheatland, Okla., 16.495
Mark Dotson (85d), Cameron, Mo., 16.552
Kyle Berck (14), Marquette, Neb., 16.581
Darin Busch (56c), Enid, Okla., 16.633
Randy Weaver (116), Crossville, Tenn., 16.743
Timothy Culp (c8), West Monroe, La., 16.8
Jon Driskill (88), Bentonville, Ark., 16.857
Levi Kissinger (8K), Mt. Vernon, Ind., 16.918
Cliff Morrow (99M), Enid, Okla., 16.962
Kip Hughes (GO), Ada, Okla., 17.056
R.C. Whitwell (6), Tucson, Ariz., 18.099
Chris Brown (21b), Spring, Texas, 15.958
Cole Wells (10w), Aurora, Mo., 16.015
Will Vaught (1V), Crane, Mo., 16.035
Eddie Carrier Jr. (28), Salt Rock, W.Va.,16.059
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.104
Wendell Wallace (6), Batesville, Ark., 16.119
Chad Simpson (25), Mount Vernon, Iowa, 16.141
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 16.155
Jason Rauen (98), Farley, Iowa, 16.208
Don O'Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 16.342
Jason Bodenmaer (2b), Centerview, Mo., 16.352
Gavin Landers (77), Batesville, Ark., 16.354
Robert Baker (17M), Bryant, Ark., 16.368
Kyle Beard (86), Trumann, Ark., 16.372
Brian Schutt (42x), Lebanon, Mo., 16.377
Raymond Merrill (12M), Salisaw, Okla., 16.387
Jesse Stovall (00), Billings, Mo., 16.389
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.421
Garrett Alberson (R5), Las Cruces, N.M., 16.422
Jake O'Neil (0), Tucson, Ariz., 16.422
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 16.433
Austin Siebert (16A), Grandview, Mo., 16.441
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 16.516
Jim Shereck (17), St. Charles, Mo., 16.527
Jacob Magee (10M), Caney, Kan., 16.568
Ryan Gustin (19R), Marshalltown, Iowa, 16.572
Devin Moran (99M), Dresden, Ohio, 16.604
Austin Rettig (94), Sikeston, Mo., 16.679
Charles LaPlant (3c), East Prairie, Mo., 16.737
Larry Jones (99J), El Dorado Springs, Mo., 16.771
Bryon Allison (1A), Marshall, Mo., 16.828
Terry Phillips (75), Springfield, Mo., 16.862
Earl Pearson Jr. (44), Jacksonville, Fla., 16.862
Junior Coover (10c), Norfolk, Neb., 16.973
Jason O'Brien (15b), Atlantic, Iowa, 17.002
Randy Roth (26R), Bentonville, Ark., 17.047
J.C. Wyman (4W), Griswold, Iowa, 17.364
Colby Johnson (130), Enid, Okla., 17.436
Cody Holtkamp (26), Holt's Summit, Mo., 17.582
Dan Shepherd (68), Denver, Colo., 18.656