Jonathan Davenport Heath Lawson
Jonathan Davenport will sit out the weekend after a positive COVID-19 test. (Heath Lawson Photo).

Davenport’s Hunt For Lucas Title No. 4

PORT ROYAL, Pa. — Jonathan Davenport can only pinpoint two occasions when things were off sequence in the 66 races he’s competed in this year.

The first is the six-day slog at East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla., in February. The second, meanwhile, is a 15th-place finish during the Show-Me 100 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Wheatland, Mo.

At East Bay, Davenport finished outside the top-14 in five straight races and outside the top-20 in four of those.

Besides that, results have been characteristically sterling for Davenport. He’s eclipsed 20 wins for the first time since 2016. He’s also in contention for his fourth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series championship.

This time around, Davenport trails Longhorn Chassis teammate Tim McCreadie by 210 points with 15 races remaining.

“It’s been a good year,” Davenport said Saturday at Port Royal Speedway, before rain canceled the 50-lap, $30,000-to-win Rumble by River finale. 

“I’m not really worried about [the points title] that much,” he added. “If we win races, we get the most points.”

On the flip side to Davenport’s straightforward philosophy, his worst stretch in recent memory — East Bay — and some misfortune are likely the only reasons he’s not in control of the series battle.

“We weren’t worth shit at East Bay,” Davenport said through a laugh prior to checking in for Saturday at Port Royal.

On Thursday at Port Royal, Davenport drew within 120 points of McCreadie with a runner-up performance to Hudson O’Neal.

It was a good night, but getting bottled in the non-preferred racing groove when battling O’Neal for the pivotal early lead hurt his shot at the win.

A flat left-front tire followed by “driving around with a half-ass flat right-rear tire the rest of the race,” in the words of Davenport, handed the three-time series champion a 14th-place finish Friday.

Meanwhile, McCreadie raced to the win and tacked on 90 more points to Davenport’s deficit.

“We had a good car [on Friday], we just had some bad luck,” said Davenport, who ran over a piece of debris under a lengthy caution period with 15 laps to go running second that cut his left rear tire and punctured his right rear. 

Davenport’s chances to overcome the gap have lessened from 17 events to 15 over the past three days.

After rain stole a prime opportunity from Davenport at Port Royal on Saturday, a Hoosier Racing Tire shortage forced the cancellation of The Dirt Track Bank Go 50 at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, N.E., on Sept. 15.

That’s bearable because once Davenport’s title hunt resumes Saturday at Portsmouth (Ohio) Raceway Park, another $30,000-to-win event awaits Sunday at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va.

“It’ll pay quite a few house payments and put shoes on the kids’ feet,” Davenport said. “That’s what we’re here to do.”

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