With the hustle of just under 60 races on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series schedule added with marquee shows on the World of Outlaws docket, Jonathan Davenport doesn’t get too many opportunities to compete outside the national dirt Late Model tours. With over a month between the DIRTcar Nationals and the next Lucas Oil race at Atomic Speedway, ‘Superman’ will get the chance to do just that this weekend.
The multi-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion will defend his victory from one year ago at Sunday’s March Madness event at Cherokee Speedway. Now a resident of South Carolina, it provides an opportunity to not only race without the pressure of gunning after a series title, but to also race close to home.
“It’s definitely nice, we’re spread so thin on the Lucas tour we don’t get a chance to do it a lot. I’ve got a lot of friends and family from around the area where I’m at now in South Carolina, it’s definitely cool to go back there on an off-weekend where there’s no pressure for points and things like that,” Davenport told Speed51.com. “We get to experiment a little bit with the car, test a few things. To get to race twice in one weekend within an hour-and-a-half both ways from my house is pretty much unheard of for me in the past five or six years.”
Davenport is coming off an up-and-down Speedweeks that saw him pick up a win at All-Tech Raceway and have strong runs at both East Bay and Volusia. However, mechanical issues and a freak incident during the Winternationals also plagued the team throughout the two weeks.
With Florida behind him, he will now bring his new Longhorn chassis to March Madness, a race he has won on four different occasions.
“I’m actually feeling pretty good; we weren’t sure if we were going to go but we had to go back through North Carolina to put our new car together. We had an eventful Speedweeks to say the least but I think we ended it pretty good. We had some strong runs at Volusia and we ended up winning one at All-Tech. We feel pretty good about going back to Gaffney.”
Cherokee Speedway is known as ‘The Place Your Mama Warned You About’ for good reason. Davenport has been one of few drivers to have a firm grasp of the high-banked 3/8-mile oval, having won there nine times in touring series competition. With the success he’s experienced at Cherokee, he explained what makes the track unique.
“There’s two different corners, three and four are completely different than turns one and two,” he began. “The dirt’s a little different, it’s much sandier South Carolina dirt. The grooves will change around, depends on how they have the race track, so it could be as easy to run the top as it is the bottom. I’ve seen it race really well and I’ve seen it not so good, we really don’t ever know what we’re going to get once we get there.”
A fifth March Madness win on Sunday would be big for Davenport as the bulk of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series season begins in four weeks in Ohio. With an eventful Speedweeks in the rearview mirror, this weekend’s race could not have come at a better time.
“We hurt one car at Speedweeks and hurt a motor and we were having to switch cars back and forth. A win would satisfy our whole team and show we’re still on the right track,” he said. “We kind of got off our game a little bit at Speedweeks with all the adversity we were having. It would definitely be a confidence boost for the team and catapult us into the next couple of weeks. We’re going to take off and get ready for the Lucas Tour full steam ahead.”
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-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51