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Jonathan Davenport topped last year's Eldora Million at Ohio's Eldora Speedway. (Frank Smith photo)

Davenport Is Million Dollar Man!

ROSSBURG, Ohio — Superman has a new name. The Million Dollar Man.

Jonathan Davenport’s racing career can be summed up in two words. Battle-tested. 

From his early struggles on asphalt to his crown jewel wins on dirt, the Blairsville, Ga., driver has overcome all obstacles.

Thursday night the driver known as Superman faced down the best dirt late model drivers in the business and won the 101-lap Eldora Million, earning $1,002,022 for winning the highest-paying race in the history of short-track racing.

Davenport set a torrid pace throughout the first 75 laps. However, that’s when the battle toward the checkered flag truly began. 

Tim McCreadie caught Davenport, setting up a war between the two veterans. They traded the lead back and forth for more than 20 laps with slide jobs and crossovers before Davenport got the advantage. 

“T-Mac” fell victim to a flat tire with two laps to go, bringing out a caution and setting up Davenport’s final challenge — a hungry Chris Madden searching for his first Eldora Crown Jewel win. 

As the green flag waved, Madden mashed the gas on the inside of turn one, inching ahead of Davenport as they thundered down the backstretch. 

However, “Superman” wouldn’t let Madden be his kryptonite, passing back the Gray Court, S.C., driver in turn three and holding on to win the second installment of the Eldora Million —worth $1,002,022. 

Despite the million-dollar prize, the amount of money he won hadn’t set in, as he felt it was similar to his other five Eldora crown jewel triumphs. 

“I haven’t even thought about the money yet,” Davenport said. “I ain’t really going to think about that until it gets into the bank account. It’s just another crown jewel here at Eldora. That just makes it all of them I’ve won except for The Stream, and I don’t think we’ll run that again.

“It’s just an awesome opportunity to come here. This place is so great.”

Davenport, who earned $12,000 more in a preliminary win Thursday afternoon, had a game plan when he lined up next to Madden for the final restart. He knew how important it would be to get the jump off turn two.

“If [Madden] tried to slide me, I knew it was so rough in the center that I could turn back under him,” Davenport said. “But he was smart enough not to do that and got a good run off [turn one and two.]

“I just had to keep my composure and let off, and let his dirty air pass me, and then I could turn back under him and try to slide him at the other end.”

The Georgia campaigner’s Eldora Million win is his sixth win of the season and his sixth crown jewel win at Eldora Speedway. 

Madden finished second, passing 17 cars after starting 18th.

“I think we win,” Madden said. “It’s the same old story, those guys can fire and run faster than I can but after we make green flag laps and run five or six laps we get better. 

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Jonathan Davenport (49) held off a last-lap challenge from Chris Madden to win the Eldora Million. (Paul Arch photo)

“I keep saying this every time, but I guess it’s something to do with my package, my setup, my balance, whatever fits me. It just takes a little while to get going. We came from 20th or 19th or something to race for the win; that’s all you can ask for.”

Devin Moran rounded out the podium Thursday night. He’s had his eye on the prize since the event was announced, trying to keep the race in the family as his dad, Donnie, won the first Eldora Million in 2001.

“I just wish we could’ve restarted second,” Moran said. “I definitely wouldn’t have been quite as nice as [Madden]. I just wanted this one so bad. 

“But this race car was badass all day long. We had a really good piece, and we put ourselves in contention, and this is by far the best we’ve ever been here.”

McCreadie finished fourth, bouncing back after a flat tire while racing with Davenport.

“I must’ve ran over something; I didn’t notice it until coming for two to go,” McCreadie said. “I layed on the right rear a little bit going into [turn three], and it shook all the way down the front stretch. 

“I don’t think it was blistered or chunked. I just ran something over; I don’t know. It might have been going down a bunch at the end. It just wasn’t meant to be.”

Chris Ferguson finished fifth, keeping the momentum from his preliminary feature win on Thursday afternoon.

“Having the momentum definitely was a bit of a letdown,” Ferguson said. “After the Heat Race, I felt like I was going to be one of the fastest cars in the Feature. But sometimes you just over-adjust, and we missed it, but luckily, we have two more days.”

The finish:

Feature (101 Laps): 1. Jonathan Davenport, 2. Chris Madden, 3. Devin Moran, 4. Tim McCreadie, 5. Chris Ferguson, 6. Dale McDowell, 7. Mike Marlar, 8. Kyle Bronson, 9. Brandon Sheppard, 10. Hudson O’Neal, 11. Bobby Pierce, 12. Earl Pearson Jr., 13. Ricky Weiss, 14. Spencer Hughes, 15. Dennis Erb Jr., 16. Johnny Scott, 17. Gregg Satterlee, 18. Darrell Lanigan, 19. Jimmy Owens, 20. Trent Ivey, 21. Shannon Babb, 22. Ricky Thornton Jr., 23. Nick Hoffman, 24. Shane Clanton.