A two-day intermission could do nothing to stunt the momentum of Jonathan Davenport, as the Blairsville, Georgia racer at New Mexico’s Vado Speedway Park.
Davenport rolled to a third straight win in as many days on Wednesday night in the dirt Super Late Model Wild West Shootout at the 3/8-mile raceway.
Davenport commanding all 30 laps from the pole to pocket another $10,000 victory. More notably, he is now three races away from a $300,000 bonus should he capture the remaining rounds on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
But Davenport was quick to point out that victory is not assured over the weekend.
“I don’t know, there’s always a (different track) condition,” he said. “I may not get a good draw in qualifying or something in the heat race. It’s a real racy racetrack. I don’t know with the amount of competition here, if I start sixth, seventh, eighth on back if I can get to the lead. We’ll have to see. Hopefully we don’t have to find that out.
“We’re going to reset here, and we have three more to win.”
Davenport said he never saw runner-up Bobby Pierce in his peripheral view, but stick signals from new crew chief Cory Fostvedt suggested he wouldn’t win his third straight feature with ease.
“He never separated the sticks. I tried to figure out where I was losing ground and where I couldn’t gain any,” Davenport said. “I tried watching the board over here, but once I got to traffic, I was focused on lapped cars ahead of me there.”
Davenport’s largest lead on Pierce came on lap 17 when he stretched the margin to 1.755 seconds, but from there, the race for the win was on. If there was a point in the running where Davenport appeared vulnerable, it was seven laps to go when he’d been held up behind the slower car of Terry Phillips.
Up to that point, Davenport dispatched lapped traffic with a singular move — not needing multiple attempts to pass the slower cars — but for whatever reason, it took him an extra corner to pass Phillips. That allowed Pierce to draw within a car length with six laps to go. It was, on the other hand, Davenport’s only noticeable blemish, which clearly hadn’t been enough for Pierce to capitalize.
“We were catching them there,” said Pierce. “Wish tonight was 40 laps, but we knew that the 30 laps was tonight. We tried playing the tire game around it. All in all, I think we were really good. We had a shot there and (Davenport) never made any mistakes. He’s a heck of a wheelman. So hard to pass there; you get those lapped cars in between you. It was so much fun. I was very happy with second.”
Davenport added that he didn’t mind the tense moments amid slower traffic.
“I don’t mind it. It’s kind of like a chess game, really,” he said. “There were a couple times I was probably not close enough to slide them. I figured if I could at least park in front of them they wouldn’t try to turn back under me, or if they did, it’d at least fill a gap where Bobby could get to me. I was just trying to make my moves cautiously and try to be smart about it too.
“All the lapped cars gave me a lot of room there. I know a couple of them I didn’t give them a lot of room. I was racing for the win. Hopefully they understand that. Once again, Cory, Vinny Guliani and Michael Bixby did an awesome job on this thing. I’m just the lucky one that gets to hold the steering wheel.”
Brandon Sheppard finished in third, with Ricky Weiss in fourth, and Mike Marlar in fifth.
Kyle Larson, Garrett Alberson, Cade Dillard, Morgan Bagley, and Jake Timm rounded out the top 10.
The Wild West Shootout returns to action on Friday, January 13, and then continues on Saturday, January 14 before wrapping up on Sunday, January 15. For more information, visit VadoSpeedwayPark.com.
Vado Speedway Park – Vado, NM
Wild West Shootout – January 11, 2023
1. (1) 49 Jonathan Davenport
2. (2) 32 Bobby Pierce
3. (4) B5 Brandon Sheppard
4. (6) 7 Ricky Weiss
5. (10) 157 Mike Marlar
6. (5) 6 Kyle Larson
7. (8) 58 Garrett Alberson
8. (12) 97 Cade Dillard
9. (3) 14M Morgan Bagley
10. (16) 49T Jake Timm
11. (9) 04 Tad Pospisil
12. (14) 8 Dillon McCowan
13. (15) 21 Billy Moyer, Sr.
14. (7) 86 Kyle Beard
15. (13) 75 Terry Phillips
16. (21) 1T Tyler Erb
17. (18) 28 Dustin Sorensen
18. (22) 42S Don Shaw
19. (24) 2S Stormy Scott
20. (20) 24 Bill Leighton
21. (19) 7C Cole Wells
22. (23) 02 Kollin Hibdon
23. (11) 1ST Johnny Scott
24. (17) 20 Rodney Sanders