Golden Isles Speedway
Davenport repels Cook, completes rich weekend
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
BRUNSWICK, Ga. (Feb. 12) — If Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., is half as successful in the Florida portion of Georgia-Florida Speedweeks as he was in his home-state performances, look out.
The 28-year-old driver, making his first starts for Clint Bowyer racing, completed a weekend sweep Sunday at Golden Isles Speedway, leading all 50 laps of the Super Bowl of Racing VIII for a $10,000 payday. Coupled with Saturday's Battle in the Swamp victory at Waycross Motor Speedway, Davenport's off to a $22,000 start to the season, including a $2,000 bonus as the driver with the best combined finishes in the unsanctioned events. | Complete Speedweeks coverage
"This is a great way to start off our season," Davenport understated after climbing from his No. 15 race car in victory lane at the 4/10-mile oval, where he turned back multiple challenges from runner-up Ray Cook of Brasstown, N.C.
The pole-starting Davenport had his hands full with Cook most of the way, and he actually lost the lead on the 11th lap when he slowed in turn one, thinking a race official had called for a yellow-flag caution over the one-way radio system. When a real-life caution indeed appeared for a spinning Kent Robinson in turn one, Cook's move was erased and Davenport was reinstated out front.
"That one caution saved me there. I thought the guy on the Raceceiver was yelling caution was the reason I went to the outside that one time Ray got by me. I never did see the lights come on," Davenport said. "It all worked out in our favor.
"I didn't know how hard it was going to be on tires. We were kind of going back and forth on tire choice before we went out, but I think I made the right decision. I just tried to stay in the bottom there and not make any mistakes, try not to push."
Cook didn't have many opportunities to overtake Davenport on a track surface where the leaders hugged the inside groove, but that didn't stop him from staying glued to Davenport's rear deck most of the way.
"I felt like we had a winning car tonight and ran second. The track dictated a little bit of the passing," Cook said. "I had him passed, and that's one thing about a non-sanctioned event, you just don't know about the calls. But I was pretty positive I led a lap. Anyhow, what are you going to do? They put him back in front of us. Congratulations to Jonathan, he did a great job. I am proud to run second — I don't want to sound negative. We've got a great thing going and hopefully it'll last all next week."
Cook, who also finished second a night earlier in World of Outlaws Late Model Series at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga., took the checkers ahead of fifth-starting Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., was third. Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., picked up two spots on a restart to finish fourth and 13th-starting Jordy Nipper of Gray, Ga., was fifth for his second top-five finish in as many nights.
The feature was slowed by four cautions, all for single-car incidents. Kent Robinson spun in turn two on the 11th lap, Dean Bowen stopped inside turn three on lap 28, Chip Brindle slowed in turn three on lap 36 and Brandon Sheppard slowed in turn two on lap 39.
Race notes: Davenport's Barry Wright Race Car has a Roush Yates powerplant and sponsorship from Georgia Boot, Toyota, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, Cometic, Crawford Supply and Hoosier. ... Davenport, who piled up more than 40 victories over the last two seasons in the Barry Wright house car, hasn't missed a beat joining the team of Bowyer, the NASCAR Sprint Cup star who is in his fifth season of owning a Dirt Late Model team. "We've just been working in the shop every day and every night together, and we've meshed pretty well," Davenport said. ... Davenport's teammate Jared Landers, who made the switch to Barry Wright cars with Davenport's arrival to the team, was 14th. ... Fourteen of 25 starters were running at the finish. ... Georgia-Florida Speedweeks continues Monday with Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series action at East Bay Raceway Park's 36th annual Winternationals in Gibsonton, Fla.
Super Bowl VIII: (1) Jonathan Davenport, (2) Ray Cook, (3) Billy Moyer, (4) Casey Roberts, (5), Jordy Nipper, (6) Shannon Babb, (7) Hunter Peacock, (8) Earl Pearson Jr., (9) Austin Hubbard, (10) Billy Moyer Jr., (11) Chip Brindle, (12) Jason McBride, (13) Lavon Sparks, (14) Jared Landers, (15) Tim McCreadie, (16) Brandon Sheppard, (17) Tyler Millwood, (18) Dean Bowen, (19) Tyler Ivey, (20) Johnny Pursley, (21) Chris Madden, (22) Kent Robinson, (23) Donald Bradsher, (24) William Thomas, (25) Brian Reese. Fast qualifier (among 26 cars): Babb, 15.338 seconds. Heat race winners: Davenport, McCreadie, Cook.
Capitalizing on polesitter Jared Landers's first-lap spin, outside front-row starter Ray Cook stayed in control throughout the 10-lapper. Casey Roberts, who inherited the pole, finished a solid second while Billy Moyer Jr. held the third spot throughout the race. Earl Pearson Jr., who avoided major damage when Landers spun in front of him, got fourth while Brandon Sheppard was fifth after his car's left-rear corner was torn up in the opening-lap yellow. Tyler Millwood, despite a lap-seven spin in turn four, got the sixth and final transfer spot. Landers looped it in turn two on the first lap and struggled.
Finish: Ray Cook, Casey Roberts, Billy Moyer Jr., Earl Pearson Jr., Brandon Sheppard, Tyler Millwood, Tyler Ivey, Jared Landers.
Front-row starters Tim McCreadie and Chris Madden had an entertaining, side-by-side battle the first three laps before the low-running McCreadie took control and edged away. Madden, who fell a half-straight behind by halfway after slipping high in turn three, lost the second spot to Billy Moyer's lap-eight slide job and finished a fading third. Jason McBride was further back in fourth but comfortably ahead of a tight battle between Johnny Pursley and Hunter Peacock. Peacock got fifth and William Thomas slipped by Pursley exiting turn four on the final lap for the final transfer spot.
Finish: Tim McCreadie, Billy Moyer, Chris Madden, Jason McBride, Hunter Peacock, William Thomas, Johnny Pursley, Brian Reese. Scratched: J.R. Hotovy.
Outside front-row starter got the jump on polesitter Shannon Babb and raced to a 10-lap victory. Babb stayed in touch with Davenport but never made a serious bid for the top spot. Chip Brindle, turning back slide jobs by sixth-starting Austin Hubbard and Kent Robinson, finished third. Robinson, Jordy Nipper and Dean Bowen also transferred to the main event. While running fourth, Hubbard spun in turn four on the seventh lap to draw a caution; he finished seventh.
Finish: Jonathan Davenport, Shannon Babb, Chip Brindle, Kent Robinson, Jordy Nipper, Dean Bowen, Austin Hubbard, Donald Bradsher, Lavon Sparks.
Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., topped 56 qualifiers Sunday at Golden Isles Speedway for Super Bowl of Racing VII, a $10,000-to-win Georgia-Florida Speedweeks event. Babb, who tripped the clock at 15.338 seconds, will start on the pole of the first of three heats.
Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., and Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark., will be the other two heat polesitters preceding the night's 50-lap main event. Six drivers apiece from three heat races and the top six finishers from a consolation race will transfer to the 24-car main event at the 4/10-mile oval.
Turn one was tricky time trials as three drivers — Chris Madden, Tyler Millwood and J.R. Hotovy slid too hight. Madden and Hotovy went completely through the track exit/entrance, but none of the cars appeared to suffer too much damage. Hotovy didn't record a lap time. ... The driver with the best combined finish from Golden Isles and Waycross (Ga.) Motor Speedway, which hosted the $10,000-to-win Battle in the Swamp, gets a $2,000 bonus. ... Jonathan Davenport led all 50 laps last night, beating Billy Moyer to the checkers. ... Earl Pearson Jr. is the only driver who hasn't entered one of the other Speedweeks events at Waycross or Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga. ... Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., is the only veteran World of Outlaws Late Model Series regular on hand. ... WoO rookie candidates Kent Robinson and Brandon Sheppard are also in the pits. ... Austin Hubbard is making his Super Late Model debut in a Barry Wright Race Car for Tim Logan Racing; Hubbard drove at Wright car a week earlier in his Crate Late Model debut at East Bay Raceway Park near Tampa. ... Bub McCool of Vicksburg, Miss., is in the pits but has elected not to unload and race. ... This is the final Speedweeks event in Georgia; action moves to Florida with six races at East Bay (Feb. 13-18), three at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala (Feb. 16-18) and six at Volusia Speedway Park in Barbersville (Feb. 20-25).
Time trials (unofficial)
- Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 15.338
- Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 15.586
- Jared Landers (5), Batesville, Ark., 15.656
- Jonathan Davenport (15), Blairsville, Ga., 15.741
- Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 15.786
- Ray Cook (53), Brasstown, N.C., 15.896
- Chip Brindle (21B), Chatsworth, Ga., 15.901
- Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 15.915
- Casey Roberts (101), Toccoa, Ga., 16.023
- Kent Robinson (7r), Bloomington, Ind., 16.048
- Johnny Pursley (09), Clover, S.C., 16.083
- Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 16.09
- Jordy Nipper (1n), Gray, Ga., 16.136
- Jason McBride (77), Carbondale, Ill., 16.181
- Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 16.185
- Austin Hubbard (11), Seaford, Del., 16.195
- William Thomas (22), Phenix City, Ala., 16.214
- Tyler Ivey (47), Tallahassee, Fla., 16.305
- Donald Bradsher (93), Burlington, N.C., 16.366
- Hunter Peacock (12), Macon, Ga., 16.433
- Earl Pearson Jr. (44), Jacksonville, Fla., 16.459
- Dean Bowen (15), Whiteville, N.C., 16.59
- Brian Reese (33), Sharpsburg, Ga., 16.657
- Tyler Millwood (X), Kingston, Ga., 16.664
- Lavon Sparks (11), Phenix City, Ala., 16.715
- J.R. Hotovy (13), Covert, Mich., no time