Story By: MICHAEL WARREN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – NEW RICHMOND, WI – Jonathan Davenport added another piece of history to his impressive 2022 resume Saturday night at Cedar Lake Speedway.
The Blairsville, GA driver held off Chris Madden in the final 10 laps Saturday at Cedar Lake to win his second consecutive USA Nationals, joining Billy Moyer and Jackie Boggs as the only drivers to win the event in back-to-back seasons.
Davenport led all 100 laps to score his fourth World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series Feature win of 2022. However, it came one night after he felt his car needed to get better.
A few small changes helped him get back on track and score the $50,000 prize.
“We just made minor changes,” Davenport said. “I felt the balance was pretty good; there’s a couple of stipulations to the car and a couple of things I didn’t really like about it. So, we made some minor shock adjustments, a shock change, a spring change, and just some little stuff here and there.
“We didn’t get crazy, but just a few adjustments to make me a little bit more comfortable.”
Despite leading every lap, Tyler Erb nosed ahead of Davenport on two occasions, throwing a slide job to take the spot each time. Davenport stole the lead back on the first attempt, and then a caution negated “Terbo’s” pass the second time.
Once that happened, Davenport knew what to expect from the New Waverly, TX driver.
“I knew where he was at, “Davenport said. “Obviously, if he slid me in (Turn) 3, I knew he was running the top in (Turns) 1 and 2. I was just moving my line around. It moved quite a few times there. It started out in the middle, and finally, it went all the way to the wall around the cushion, and then I kind of moved back to the bottom.”
Erb slipped to third at the end of the race, despite challenging for the lead in the middle stages. “Terbo’s” face had a smile showing satisfaction, but his eyes were burning in frustration knowing he had a chance to be “Superman’s” kryptonite.
“I was trying to save, save, and save [my stuff], and when [a chance] presented itself, I let it rip for all she had,” Erb said. “I was honestly able to get by him fairly easy, I thought. The problem is the way him and Madden were running, the only way I was going to pass them was to slide them, and I couldn’t keep my momentum all the way around them.
“So, I slid him the first time and slid him the second time, and I was finally going to be clear the next lap. We were good enough to have a chance, just not good enough to finish it all the way off.”
While Erb battled with Davenport for the lead, he also waged war with Madden several times for second. The Gray Court, SC driver, won that battle but fell short of a potential fifth $50,000 prize of the season.
“Smokey” stated he couldn’t get the momentum he needed to sneak by Davenport in traffic.
“We just caught those lap cars at the right time,” Madden said. “[Garrett Smith) was running kind of low, and then when we caught him, I was running the middle and the [top] just carrying my momentum, and I guess [Davenport] just got his nose under him and moved him up. When he moved up, he was right in my line.”
“We had a great race car, but we had a lot of cautions that broke my momentum quite a few times. That hurt us, but that’s part of it. We’re trying to keep working on this thing and find what we can do to get better on some shorter runs.”
Ricky Weiss crossed the line fourth. The Headingly, MB driver made the battle for second a three-car affair with Madden and Erb a few times but fell behind them in the final few laps.
He stated his right front tire went away, costing him a chance at the win.
“The right front gave up a little bit when I got alongside Madden,” Weiss said. “We were real good; I could see [Davenport’s] right front give up and change his line, and then Madden was next, so then mine was next.”
Four-time and reigning Series champion Brandon Sheppard rounded out the top-five. The New Berlin, IL driver felt the track threw him a curveball, with rain in the New Richmond, WI area throughout the day.
“The track was not your typical Cedar Lake, for sure,” Sheppard said. “I think we had a good car, but I was just moving around trying to pass guys so much that you’d overheat your tires really fast. Then, you kind of have to just get back in that middle line.
“I think our car was overall pretty decent. Like I said, we just didn’t pass cars earlier in the race, and I was kind of trying to save my stuff for the end. But at the end, it was really hard to pass. It was not the typical Cedar Lake racetrack for sure, and I’m sure the rain had a lot to do with it.”
A second consecutive USA Nationals victory for Jonathan Davenport continues his impressive resume of high dollar wins in 2022. It’s a historical victory that Blairsville, GA driver will cherish.
“Something’s got to pay off,” Davenport said. “It’s very rewarding to come out here and do good.”
UP NEXT: The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet travel to the Northeast for three nights of high-octane action. The weekend kicks off on Friday, Aug. 19, with a trip to Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, PA. Then, the Series returns to Sharon Speedway in Hartford, OH, on Saturday, Aug. 20. Finally, the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models head to Tri-City Raceway Park in Franklin, PA, on Sunday, Aug. 21.
35th Annual USA Nationals (100 Laps): 1. 49-Jonathan Davenport; 2. 44-Chris Madden; 3. 1T-Tyler Erb; 4. 7-Ricky Weiss; 5. 1S-Brandon Sheppard; 6. 157-Mike Marlar; 7. 111V-Max Blair; 8. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 9. 18-Shannon Babb; 10. 97-Cade Dillard; 11. 76-Brandon Overton; 12. 81E-Tanner English; 13. B1-Brent Larson; 14. 10S-Garrett Smith; 15. 49T-Jake Timm; 16. 99JR-Frank Heckenast Jr; 17. 58-Ashton Winger; 18. 16-Tyler Bruening; 19. 32-Bobby Pierce; 20. 8-Kyle Strickler; 21. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 22. 11T-Trevor Gundaker; 23. 25-Shane Clanton; 24. 25F-Jason Feger; 25. 55C-Chad Mahder; 26. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 27. 20-Jimmy Owens; 28. 10-Joseph Joiner FOX FACTORY HARD CHARGER: Dennis Erb Jr. [+17]