Davenport Controls North Georgia Red Clay

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Jonathan Davenport celebrates after his Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series triumph at North Georgia Speedway. (Heath Lawson Photo)

CHATSWORTH, Ga. – Jonathan Davenport conquered the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series’ return to North Georgia Speedway on Saturday night.

Davenport took control on lap 20 by darting under race leader David Payne. Davenport then led the rest of the way for a convincing victory in front of his home-state crowd. With the win, his fourth of the year, Davenport maintains his championship lead.

Payne set the Miller Welders Overall Fast Time and went on to win the third heat, putting him on the outside front row alongside Josh Richards for the 50-lap main event. Payne led the first 19 laps of the race until Davenport slid under him heading into turn three on lap 20. Payne then ran second to Davenport before he suffered a flat left rear tire on lap 25 forcing him to pit. Devin Moran picked up the chase for the lead and challenged Davenport several times before fading.

Tyler Erb, who entered the event second in points to Davenport, then moved into the runner-up position. Erb was attempting to track down Davenport but on lap 37 he hooked the cushion and spun to a stop, forcing a caution flag.

The final caution of the race came on lap 42. In the closing laps, Davenport pulled away from the Clint Bowyer teammates Don O’Neal and Richards to score the win. O’Neal had his best finish of the year by taking second, with Richards finishing third. Moran and Earl Pearson Jr. completed the top five.

“I was kind of glad to see a few of those cautions. I was needing a water break,” Davenport said jokingly. “I have never won a late model race here. This is so fun to come back to almost my hometown crowd and get this win. I grew up just an hour-and-a-half from here. My crew chief is Jason Durham, this is a big win for him as well. This is basically his home track.

“I didn’t think we could get it done,” Davenport added. It was cool to race with David [Payne]. I grew up racing against him and us battling for the lead was pretty great. He had a good car until he had that flat. I drove a line I had never really driven here before. I have seen so many guys passed coming off turn four here. I moved around enough to where I could get comfortable out there.”

O’Neal, who moved into second on lap 39, was happy with his podium finish.

“Man, we need a win bad,” said O’Neal. “After last night it feels good to run up front like that. It was a good night for the Bowyer cars running second and third. The track slowed down after a while. Josh slid under me once and I got back around him. We needed to build some momentum heading into next weekend.”

Richards started on the pole but fell back significantly as he nearly spun in turn four on the opening circuit.

“I was trying to get the lead,” Richards explained. “I drove it into three and it nearly got away from me. Jonathan and Don did a great job. Like Don said, it was a good night for Clint Bowyer Racing.”

The finish:

Jonathan Davenport, Don O’Neal, Josh Richards, Devin Moran, Earl Pearson Jr., Hudson O’Neal, Billy Moyer Jr., Tim McCreadie, Tyler Erb, Will Roland, Kyle Bronson, Ryan King, Jimmy Owens, David Payne, Jacob Hawkins, Dale McDowell, Stormy Scott, Aaron Ridley, Andrew Littleton, Shanon Buckingham, Michael Page, Jason Jameson, Cla Knight, Dalton Polston.