Jonathan Davenport at Lucas Oil Speedway. (Mike Ruefer Photo)

Another Dominant Davenport Performance At Lucas Oil

WHEATLAND, Mo. — Jonathan Davenport lived up to his nickname of “Superman” once again on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Speedway, completing a dominating weekend sweep of the 11th annual MLRA Spring Nationals Presented by Arizona Sport Shirts.

One night after leading all 40 laps to take home a $7,000 prize, Davenport paced all 60 circuits to once again outdistance Ricky Thornton Jr., and take home the $20,000 check.

After winning five times at Lucas Oil Speedway in 2023, the Blairsville, Ga., driver is two-for-two this season after beating Thornton by 4.23 seconds for his latest triumph in south-central Missouri.

“We got a good starting spot from qualifying,” Davenport said. “My guys have been doing a great job. We were so good in that heat race, we were afraid to change anything. We over-adjusted last night. We did finally make some changes there and i don’t know if they were the right ones, we it sure made it easier to drive. I could maneuver very well. The car was really good.”

Jonathan Davenport in Lucas Oil Speedway victory lane. (Mike Ruefer Photo)

Just as he did a night earlier, Davenport sprinted to the lead at the start from his front-row starting position. He opened a 3.1-second lead just six laps in over Mason Zeigler with Thornton Jr. running third. By lap 12, Davenport caught lapped traffic and that allowed Zeigler to shave a half-second off his lead. It didn’t take Davenport long to stretch his command back out to 4.07 seconds by lap 20 as Thornton moved into the runner-up spot.

The long green-flag run from the start continued and Davenport threatened to make it a complete runaway as his lead hit 4.8 seconds by lap 25. That’s when the first caution flew as Chris Simpson slowed on the track with a flat tire.

Davenport rolled from the restart and needed just five laps to re-open a 1.5-second lead over Thornton with Garrett Alberson third and Zeigler fourth. His margin was 2.1 seconds when the race’s second caution appeared on lap 35 after Matt Johnson’s spin in turn four.

It took only three laps after the restart for the next caution, with the top four unchanged. However, Mike Marlar continued an impressive march, going from 21st and into the fifth by lap 38 when a five-car pileup in turn three brought out the red to clean up the debris.

When action resumed, it was more of the same with Davenport using the high groove to quickly open a two-second lead over Thornton by lap 43. Marlar continued to ascend using the extreme low line, passing Alberson for third on lap 46 and 2.5 seconds behind the leader.

The race remained caution-free the rest of the way and that was all Davenport needed to weave his way through lapped traffic all the way to the checkers.

Thornton held off Alberson for second with Marlar slipping to fourth in the final laps. Zeigler settled for fifth and reigning MLRA champ Chad Simpson was sixth for the second straight night.

Davenport said he didn’t change his driving approach after the cautions wiped out his sizeable leads, but he definitely kept an eye on the video board to see who was behind him.

“I got into a pretty good rhythm there and the biggest thing that won me the race was through lapped cars,” Davenport said. “I tried not to get complacent and get behind one. Even if it was the wrong line, I tried to keep my momentum up and try to pass them in the next corner.

“I knew those guys were right on me. Ricky’s been really good and Garrett was coming up through there.”

Thornton said he thought the final caution would provide him a chance to see how he matched up with Davenport after losing to him at the finish by just over a second on Friday night.

“The one yellow came out and I thought I could at least see how comparable I am to him and he just drove off,” Thornton said. “That’s why we’re here. We need to get better. We’ll keep working.

“Hopefully when we come back here for the Show-Me (May 23-25) we can finish a little better in the heat race. That’s a big thing here.”

Dustin Hodges posted the fastest qualifying lap at 14.788 seconds out of Group A, while Davenport set fast time in Group B at 14.873. They both won their heats to secure front-row starting positions.

Poe wins POWRi Super Stocks feature

Aaron Poe of Knob Noster emerged a narrow winner after a tight battle over the final 14 laps to earn the POWRi Super Stocks feature win.

Ted Welschmeyer took the lead at the start over Friday-night winner Taylor Carver. Those two were side-by-side for the lead when a lap-six caution flew.

Poe powered from third to the lead on the restart on lap seven. He and Welschmeyer battled it out from there with Poe riding the high groove and Welschmeyer the low side. That’s how they stayed until the finish, with Poe, the reigning POWRi Super Stocks national champ, winning by .578 seconds.

Afterward, Welschmeyer’s car failed technical inspection. Brian Brown was elevated to second with Carver third, Derek Brown fourth and Derek Henson fifth.

Clevenger rallies late to win SMVR feature

Damen Clevenger rallied in the final half of the Show-Me Vintage Racers main event to come away with the feature win over Friday-night winner Brandon Jordan.

John Martin started on the pole and sprinted to the lead for the start, opening a two-second margin over Bryant Moyer by lap seven. Clevenger, who started seventh, moved into second by lap nine when a caution slowed the field.

Jordan, re-starting fifth after beginning the race 14th, rolled into the lead on lap 11. He and Clevenger raced side-by-side over the next two laps with Clevenger forging into the lead with one to go.

Clevenger was able to hang on to beat Jordan by .275 seconds for his third career SMVR win at Lucas Oil Speedway.

“It helped me catch the lead car,” Clevenger said of the caution. “The track was tacky and fast, especially down on the bottom once we got down there. That’s where we ran them down at. It was a good, close race.”

Feature Finish (60 Laps)

1. 49-Jonathan Davenport[2]; 2. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[6]; 3. 58-Garrett Alberson[13]; 4. 157-Mike Marlar[21]; 5. 25Z-Mason Zeigler[4]; 6. 25-Chad Simpson[7]; 7. 32S-Chris Simpson[20]; 8. 18D-Daulton Wilson[19]; 9. 49W-Justin Wells[3]; 10. 11G-Gordy Gundaker[9]; 11. 29-Rodney Sanders[15]; 12. 25J-Tony Jackson Jr[25]; 13. 46-Earl Pearson Jr[16]; 14. 36-Logan Martin[10]; 15. 8-Dillon McCowan[8]; 16. 76-Blair Nothdurft[14]; 17. 15D-Justin Duty[24]; 18. 11T-Trevor Gundaker[23]; 19. 1X-Matt Johnson[22]; 20. 11-Jeff Herzog[11]; 21. 78S-Steve Stultz[26]; 22. 1XM-Aaron Marrant[18]; 23. (DNF) 7W-Cole Wells[12]; 24. (DNF) 22H-Dustin Hodges[1]; 25. (DNF) 7D-Dusty Leonard[17]; 26. (DNF) 10S-Garrett Smith[5]