Heartbreak & Triumph At Eldora

Davenport banks $50,000 prize

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Jonathan Davenport (49) races under Kyle Strickler at Eldora Speedway. (Paul Arch photo)

ROSSBURG, Ohio — The inaugural Intercontinental Classic at Eldora Speedway was a tale of two men.

For Kyle Strickler, it was arguably the most agonizing, excruciating loss of his career. He controlled 65 of 67 laps and led by 2.5-seconds with five laps to go. However, it all changed when the white flag waved. Suffering a flat right-rear tire, the Mooresville, N.C., native had his first crown jewel win painfully stripped from his grasp on the final lap.

As Strickler fell to sixth, Jonathan Davenport rolled to the $50,000 triumph, expanding his legacy at the historic half-mile track.

“I promise you that was the longest lap of my life trying to hold on and win $50,000,” a dejected Strickler offered. “I am so heartbroken. They say you have to lose some before you win some, though. We’ll be back.”

Leading only one lap of the 67-lapper, Davenport etched his name into the record books as the winner of the Intercontinental Classic, a spectator-only event held in place of the 50th World 100. Davenport has won the World 100 three times.

Jonathan Davenport (Paul Arch photo)

“I hate that for Kyle and those guys, man that really sucks,” Davenport said. “Leading the whole and losing it on the last lap is pretty terrible. Maybe everything happens for a reason though.”

For Strickler, his quest started from second as Chris Ferguson controlled the first circuit in his Team Zero Race Car No. 22. Striking with a turn one slider that featured some slight contact on lap two, Strickler ripped the top spot away and set sail on the field. Acing a handful of restarts, Strickler was untouchable until lap traffic held him up and Ricky Weiss gave him his biggest challenge of the night.

Weiss was side-by-side with Strickler at the stripe and missed him by just .064 seconds on lap 49 of the 67-lapper. Weiss cleared Strickler and made the pass for the lead down the backstretch, but never officially led a lap as he faded off turn four and gave Stricker the point right back. He lasted six more laps before his night went up in smoke on lap 55.

Dale McDowell was next in line to bid for the lead, but trouble soon struck his E-Z-GO No. 17M Team Zero Race Car and sent him falling through the field on the final restart with eight to go. From there, Strickler checked out and ran away to a 2.5-second advantage with four laps remaining. But when the white flag flew, one of the most infamous final half-mile rides in track history ensued.

“I saw them waving the white flag and I knew I had to get positioned to get across the corner and get by him,” Davenport said on adjusting to make the last-lap pass.

Strickler, however, felt it going down the lap prior and all he could do was hope to limp the No. 8 home. “I wasn’t leaning on it until those last five laps, but then it must have cut something up there,” Strickler noted. “I felt it going down the lap before and knew I was in trouble.”

Also capitalizing on Strickler’s misfortune and moving up on the final lap was Tim McCreadie, who finished second after starting ninth.

Rounding out the Intercontinental Classic podium at Eldora Speedway was the night’s hard charger, Shannon Babb with an 18th-to-third run in the Team Zero Race Car No. 18b.

The finish:

Feature (67 Laps): 1. 49-Jonathan Davenport [8]; 2. 39-Tim McCreadie [9]; 3. 18B-Shannon Babb [18]; 4. 28-Dennis Erb Jr. [17]; 5. 22F-Chris Ferguson [1]; 6. 8-Kyle Strickler [2]; 7. 0-Scott Bloomquist [19]; 8. 18-Chase Junghans [14]; 9. 44-Chris Madden [3]; 10. 1-Brandon Sheppard [10]; 11. 83-Scott James [12]; 12. 76-Brandon Overton [7]; 13. 29V-Darrell Lanigan [11]; 14. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr. [21]; 15. 95-Jerry Bowersock [23]; 16. 1C-Chad Simpson [16]; 17. 17M-Dale McDowell [4]; 18. 7R-Kent Robinson [20]; 19. 7-Ricky Weiss [5]; 20. 11H-Spencer Hughes [13]; 21. 14-Josh Richards [6]; 22. 32-Bobby Pierce [22]; 23. 40B-Kyle Bronson [24]; 24. 20-Jimmy Owens [15].