It’s All Davenport In USA Nationals Opener

Jonathan Davenport at Cedar Lake Speedway. (Jacy Norgaard photo)
Jonathan Davenport at Cedar Lake Speedway. (Jacy Norgaard photo)

NEW RICHMOND, Wis. — Jonathan Davenport led all 30 laps to claim victory on night one of the 32nd annual USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway.

Davenport netted the Morton Buildings World of Outlaws Late Model Series victory over Brian Birkhofer and Tyler Bruening.

Davenport jetted out to the early lead but faced heavy pressure from Bruening and Birkhofer behind him once he reached lapped traffic. Davenport worked the high side for almost the entire race, while Bruening stuck to the bottom.

At one point, lapped traffic was holding Davenport up enough for Bruening to stick a nose underneath the Nutrien Ag Solutions No. 49.

“I was sort-of at the lapped cars’ mercy,” Davenport said. “There were a couple of times that they would actually pull back by me on the bottom, so tried the bottom a couple of times. I just wasn’t as good down there and couldn’t judge off of anybody else to know how to run it.”

But Davenport was just too strong on the top side for Bruening to make the move, before a caution came out on lap 19. This reset the field, giving Davenport a clear track ahead, which seemed to be the key for him over 30 laps.

“Being in clean air was the biggest thing,” he said. “I could see the cushion better than somebody behind me.”

The restart gave Birkhofer the opportunity he needed to advance another spot, getting a great run out of turn four and diving deep into turn one to put a slide job on Bruening. “Birky” gave it all he had in the final 10 laps to catch the leader, but Davenport was simply not going to be denied on Friday night.

In the final circuits, however, it got exciting. Coming to the line to complete lap 48, Davenport got a bit out of shape as he rode the high line out of turn four. That allowed Birkhofer to close the gap, but Davenport was too far ahead. He knew he had it covered on the top, despite its risk.

“The cushion got treacherous in a couple different places, in a couple different ways. There were a couple of holes and it was really oddly shaped, but, finally, I just learned to run around it and be halfway consistent,” Davenport said.

“I don’t know that if he’d have made one more mistake, I would have been beside him, with the caliber of talent he has,” Birkhofer said. “But we’ve got something to work with. The car’s pretty good, obviously needs to be better. The more laps I get, I get a little bit less rusty.”

Bruening collected the best World of Outlaws finish of his career, claiming the final podium spot.

“I almost don’t know how to put it in words,” Bruening said. “You keep plugging away, getting better and better, and things just start falling into place for you. My car has just been phenomenal all year, I can’t thank my dad and the crew enough.”

The finish:

Feature (30 Laps) 1. 49-Jonathan Davenport [2][$6,000]; 2. 15b-Brian Birkhofer [4][$3,000]; 3. 16-Tyler Bruening [1][$2,000]; 4. 6m-Tim McCreadie [3][$1,750]; 5. 17M-Dale McDowell [9][$1,500]; 6. 1T-Tyler Erb [12][$1,400]; 7. 99B-Boom Briggs [6][$1,300]; 8. 18b-Shannon Babb [13][$1,200]; 9. 7-Ricky Weiss [10][$1,100]; 10. 40B-Kyle Bronson [14][$1,000]; 11. 29-Darrell Lanigan [7][$900]; 12. 18-Chase Junghans [18][$850]; 13. 99jr-Frank Heckenast [15][$800]; 14. 32s-Chris Simpson [5][$775]; 15. 28m-Jimmy Mars [21][$750]; 16. 97-Cade Dillard [16][$700]; 17. B1-Brent Larson [23][$660]; 18. 20-Jimmy Owens [19][$640]; 19. 1P-Earl Pearson [17][$620]; 20. 28-Dennis Erb [22][$600]; 21. 6-Blake Spencer [24][$600]; 22. 25-Shane Clanton [20][$600]; 23. 1-Brandon Sheppard [8][$600]; 24. 0-Scott Bloomquist [11][$600] Hard Charger: 1T-Tyler Erb[+6]