ROSSBURG, Ohio — With the band back together, Jonathan Davenport and his crew played one of their greatest hits.
The Blairsville, Ga., driver, with former crew chief Kevin Rumley and Co. rejoining the 33-year-old Davenport in his new G.R. Smith-owned ride, dominated Saturday’s 47th annual World 100 for a $50,000 payday at Eldora Speedway, winning the sport’s most prestigious race for the second time in three years.
The third-starting Davenport blew into the lead from the outset and ran virtually unchallenged in becoming the first World 100 winner in 14 seasons to go flag to flag at the Tony Stewart-owned half-mile oval.
Outside front-row starter Gregg Satterlee notched his first Eldora finish with a runner-up performance while Mike Marlar was third in his best finish. Dale McDowell, who started 25th, and two-time preliminary race winner Darrell Lanigan rounded out the top five in front of a record-setting Eldora crowd.
Brandon Overton, who held the second spot from lap 60-89, had two slipups after a restart with 11 laps remaining and dropped from contention, finishing 11th.
Davenport’s victory would’ve seem unfathomable just a few months ago as the driver who swept Eldora’s Dream and World 100 in 2015 during a career season with the K&L Rumley Enterprises team was winless in super late model competition through the first half of 2017.
Leaving the Barry Wright Race Cars house car team the first week in August, Davenport ended up connecting with North Carolina transplant G.R. Smith, kicking off their partnership with back-to-back victories. Davenport added a $25,000 Hillbilly 100 triumph just seven days ago at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va., and the team headed to Eldora with help from his former car owners — Kevin Rumley and his Hall of Fame engine-building father Lee Roy — joining in to help along with crew member Bryan Liverman.
The obvious hashtag — #TheBandisBackTogether — became the team’s theme of the weekend, and they struck a winning tune Saturday with Davenport’s dominating performance while buoying G.R. Smith’s operation.
“I’ve just gotta thank G.R. Smith. If you only know our past, man, it’s so cool,” Davenport said with a laugh in victory lane. “Probably the first time we met one another, we was racing and, you know, I guess, I don’t know, I ran over him, and he ran over me, and we had a little altercation there. But anyway, it’s so cool for him to step out (of the car) …”