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Waycross Motor Speedway

Davenport gets $10,000 victory at Waycross

February 11, 2012, 5:02 pm
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.com managing editor
Jonathan Davenport (left) and car owner Clint Bowyer enjoy victory lane. (DirtonDirt.com)
Jonathan Davenport (left) and car owner Clint Bowyer enjoy victory lane. (DirtonDirt.com)

WAYCROSS, Ga. (Feb. 11) — The high-speed Waycross Motor Speedway's egg shape allows Dirt Late Model racers to carry so much momentum, it's difficult to glance to the left to see if anyone's challenging, Jonathan Davenport says.

So while the polesitting Davenport was leading midway through Saturday's 50-lap Battle in the Swamp, he said he never actually laid eyes on runner-up Billy Moyer, who pulled nearly alongside for nearly a quarter-lap stretch. | Complete Speedweeks coverage

"I felt him. ... And I could hear him, too," Davenport admitted. And that was enough to encourage Davenport to put it in a higher gear in attacking slower cars that were holding up the leaders on a frigid night in south Georgia.

The 28-year-old from Blairsville, Ga., did just that the rest of the way, eventually building a cushion of lapped cars between his Clint Bowyer Racing No. 15 and Moyer in cruising to a $10,000 victory the final few laps at Waycross, formerly a half-mile oval shortened to 4/10-mile in the off-season.

Davenport, who also set fast time and won a heat race, led every lap of the main event to win his debut for Bowyer, the NASCAR Sprint Cup star who's in his fifth season of owning a Dirt Late Model team.

While most of the racing was single-file, the outcome appeared in doubt when Moyer slid underneath Davenport between turns three and four and nearly edged ahead.

"There wasn't a whole lot of room for passing, so once I'd get to those lapped cars, I'd really take my time and just wait until they would mess up, and then make my move," Davenport said. "I almost waited too long there on one."

With Moyer rattling Davenport's cage, the leader kept the Hall of Famer at bay the rest of the way in kicking off his 14-race stretch of Georgia-Florida Speedweeks in style. Davenport will head to Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Ga., gunning for a Peach State sweep that would pay $22,000, including a $2,000 bonus posted by the two tracks.

"So far, we've set fast time, got a heat race win and a feature win. We'll see if we can't keep this streak going," said Davenport, who reeled seven victories of $10,000 or more in late 2011 for his previous Barry Wright house car team. "To end the season like I did, then start with a new team, it just gives us confidence where we can be a roll for the remainder of Speedweeks here."

Moyer, running with a subpar backup powerplant after engine problems the previous night at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga., knew he had a golden opportunity in his lap-24 attempt to overtake Davenport.

"I was underneath Davenport that one time, and I didn't want to be dirty. I could've got him right there, I think, but I just was going to wait for another time," said Moyer, who could roll under the leader in turn three. "If I would've wanted to get in there and just get against his quarterpanel just a little bit and rough him up, I think I could've got underneath him. I was just waiting for him to enter just a little bit too wide, and I could've got right in there, because my car was glued down on that part of the racetrack right there."

But Moyer struggled lapping the same cars that held up Davenport and couldn't keep up in the closing laps, setting for second. Fourth-starting Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., who started outside the second row and ran as high as second, was third.

Jordy Nipper of Gray, Ga., ran a solid fourth and ninth-starting Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., rounded out the top five. Davenport's teammate, Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark., started third but a first-lap spin knocked him from contention and he ended up 10th, the final car on the lead lap.

The feature was slowed by four early cautions, none for serious incidents.

Race notes: Davenport's Barry Wright Race Car has a Roush Yates powerplant and sponsorship from Georgia Boot, Toyota, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, Cometic and Crawford Supply. ... Davenport has traditionally run No. 49, but his car's No. 15 matches the number his car owner Bowyer will run in NASCAR Sprint Cup action for Michael Waltrip Racing. ... Bowyer was on hand with several team members to celebrate with Davenport in victory lane. ... Just over half the 20-car field was running at the finish. ... William Thomas, who finished sixth, missed time trials after a stomach bug kept him from arriving to the track on time; he started 11th in the main event after tagging the tail of a heat race. ... Tyler Ivey, who won last year's season finale at Waycross, started fifth and ran among the leaders early, but eventually faded and was among the race's dropouts. ... Jason McBride ran as high as fifth before dropping back; he retired on lap 30.

Battle in the Swamp (unofficial): (1) Jonathan Davenport, (2) Billy Moyer, (3) Dennis Erb Jr., (4) Jordy Nipper, (5) Chris Madden, (6) William Thomas, (7) J.R. Hotovy, (8) Johnny Pursley, (9) Brian Reese, (10) Jared Landers, (11) Donnie Moran, (12) Tyler Millwood, (13) Chip Brindle, (14) Jason McBride, (15) Nick Lyons, (16) Tyler Ivey, (17) Henry Carter, (18) Lavon Sparks, (19) Dean Bowen. Scratched: Benji Cole. Fast qualifier (among 21 cars): Davenport, 16.685 seconds. Heat race winners: Davenport, Moyer, Landers.

Correction: Fixes last name of 18th-place driver to Sparks sted Sloan.

Preliminary results (unofficial):

Third heat

Third-starting Jared Landers slipped under polesitter Donald Bradsher exiting turn four on the first lap and cruised to a 10-lap victory in a bizarre prelim with some postrace action. Jordy Nipper, taking advantage of a scramble between Bradsher and tail-starting Chris Madden on a lap-four restart, finished second with Madden in third after taking a position from Bradsher on the last lap. Madden, who started on the tail after missing time trials with oil-pump problems, angrily veered at Bradsher on the cool-down lap, then after crossing the scales climbed from his car and approached Bradsher's car as it waved. Security officials encouraged Madden to get back into his car. While Landers won, his car needed a push to the scales after he lost power on the cool-down lap; it wasn't clear what was wrong with his car.

Finish: Jared Landers, Jordy Nipper, Chris Madden, Donald Bradsher, Donnie Moran, Nick Lyons, Henry Carter Jr.

Second heat

Taking the lead when Chip Brindle slipped high exiting turn two on the backstretch, Billy Moyer took the lead on the third lap and cruised to a 10-lap victory. Brindle started on the pole and outjumped Moyer at the outset, but lost the lead on the backstretch on the third lap. Things got worse for Brindle on the next lap when he again got out of shape exiting turn two, tangled with Tyler Ivey and got into the interior backstretch wall. Ivey ended up second with J.R. Hotovy third in his first-ever appearance at Waycross. William Thomas, Lavon Sparks, Benji Cole (who lost two spots when he slowed exiting turn four heading for the checkers) and Brindle rounded out the field. All transfer to the main event.

Finish: Billy Moyer, Tyler Ivey, J.R. Hotovy, William Thomas, Lavon Sparks, Benji Cole, Chip Brindle.

First heat

Fast qualifier Jonathan Davenport outdueled fellow front-row starter Dennis Erb Jr. on the first lap and raced to a 10-lap victory. Erb staying with him but wasn't able to take a serious shot at the lead as the top two pulled to a straightaway advantage by the halfway point. Jason McBride was a distant third while Tyler Millwood, Johnny Pursley and Brian Reese were far behind.

Finish: Jonathan Davenport, Dennis Erb Jr., Jason McBride, Tyler Millwood, Johnny Pursley, Brian Reese. Scratched: Dean Bowen.

Qualifying

Making his debut for Clint Bowyer Racing, Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., topped 20 qualifiers Saturday at Waycross Motor Speedway for the unsanctioned Battle in the Swamp, a $10,000-to-win event. Davenport posted a lap of 16.685 seconds around the 4/10-mile oval.

He'll start on the pole of the first of three heats; other heat race polesitters are Chip Brindle of Chatsworth, Ga., and Donald Bradsher of Burlington, N.C.

Dean Bowen of Whiteville, N.C., was the first qualifier out, but broke a rear end roaring into turn one; his crew planned to replace it. Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., who won his first $5,000 event at Waycross in 2000, had an oil-pump problem just as he tripped the clock. He plans to go to a backup car for the main event. William Thomas of Phenix City, Ala., who has been suffering from stomach flu, pulled through the gates after time trials and will apparently tag the tail of the third heat.

Chilly, blustery weather greeted about 20 race teams and a solid crowd for the 50-lap main event at the red-clay oval, which was shortened from its original half-mile configuration during the off-season.

Many of the same drivers are expected to compete Sunday afternoon just down U.S. 82 at Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Ga., in the $10,000-to-win Super Bowl VII. The driver with the best combined finishes at Waycross and Brunswick receives a $2,000 bonus.

Pre-race notes

DirtonDirt.com has had technical issues regarding its server and video loads slowly; we're doing our best to fix the problem. The issues don't seem to affect our mobile video if you have a smartphone. ... Considering windy weather and temperatures expected to drop into the 30s, a respectable crowd filled most of the extensive frontstretch grandstand. ... Jonathan Davenport was quickest in Friday's practice with laps under 16 seconds. ... Waycross is co-promoted by Mike Carter and Gary Johns. ... Former Southern All Star official Brad Byrd is serving as race director. ... The event generally follows Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series rules. ... Limited Late Models and pure stock divisions are also in action, although the lower divisions have 12 cars apiece. ... Several drivers left the World of Outlaws event at Screven Motor Speedway to compete at Waycross, including Billy Moyer, Jordy Nipper, Johnny Pursley, Benji Cole, Brian Reese and Jason McBride. ... Super Late Models are getting two sets of hot laps; no other divisions are time-trialing. .... Super Late Models will time trial and run three heats with the feature lineup starting straight up (first heat winner on pole of main event).

Time trials (unofficial)

Driver (car no.), hometown, time
  1. Jonathan Davenport (15), Blairsville, Ga., 15.685
  2. Chip Brindle (21B), Chatsworth, Ga., 15.758
  3. Donald Bradsher (93), Burlington, N.C., 15.767
  4. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.771
  5. Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 16.025
  6. Nick Lyons (80xx), Centralia, Ill., 16.085
  7. Tyler Millwood (X), Kingston, Ga., 16.097
  8. Tyler Ivey (47), Tallahassee, Fla., 16.135
  9. Jared Landers (5), Batesville, Ark., 16.139
  10. Jason McBride (77), Carbondale, Ill., 16.18
  11. J.R. Hotovy (13), Covert, Mich., 16.220
  12. Donnie Moran (99), Dresden, Ohio, 16.373
  13. Johnny Pursley (09), Clover, S.C., 16.414
  14. Benji Cole (121), Canon, Ga., 16.461
  15. Jordy Nipper (1n), Gray, Ga., 16.492
  16. Brian Reese (33), Sharpsburg, Ga., 16.662
  17. Lavon Sparks (11), Phenix City, Ala., 16.990
  18. Henry Carter Jr. (20), Swainsboro, Ga., 17.588
  19. Dean Bowen (15), Whiteville, N.C., no time
  20. Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., no time

Battle in the Swamp

Row 1: Davenport, Moyer
Row 2: Landers, Erb
Row 3: Ivey, Nipper
Row 4: McBride, Hotovy
Row 5: Madden, Millwood
Row 6: Thomas, Bradsher
Row 7: Pursley, Sparks
Row 8: Moran, Reese
Row 9: Cole, Lyons
Row 10: Bowen, Brindle
Row 11: Carter

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