Preliminary races for the 25th running of the Dirt Late Model Dream continued under the lights at Eldora Speedway Friday night. More than 90 cars competed for their chance at $10,000 and a good qualifying spot for their heat races leading up to the big $125,000 show on Saturday night.
Two-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Champion “Superman” Johnathan Davenport added to his impressive season my winning the first of two preliminary races. The former winner of The Dream and the World 100 took over the lead from Kent Robinson on Lap 2 of the 25-lap Odd Feature and tiptoed his way through lapped traffic on his way to becoming $10,000 richer.
“I kept slowing down a lot, I was just afraid to come up off the bottom,” Davenport said on the Dirt on Dirt broadcast. “I was a little loose there, so I knew if I moved up I’d be even looser. So, I went up just at the right time I guess, because I kept watching the board and I saw Kent close in on me there. So, I just took a chance and went to the top, barely caught the cushion, bent the spoiler, and it gave me a good enough run to get by Ashton there.
“I just got to thank my guys they’ve been working really hard,” Davenport continued. “We tried a little bit of different stuff tonight, and I don’t think my car was quite as good tonight as it was last night. So we’ll just keep going to the notebook and keep fine tuning on this thing.”
Despite losing the battle to Davenport, Robinson hung on to finish second in the feature.
“I’m just happy to be here tonight. They call this the world’s greatest dirt track and it continues to live up to that name,” Robinson said. “You know, like I said, I’m just proud to be here and continue to get a little bit better in this race car. Small changes, you know, it’s just that close. It’s a really good feeling to be honest. A big improvement from last night and to run second to JD here at Eldora, I’ll take it.”
Meanwhile in the Even Feature, 2012 Dirt Late Model Dream winner, the “Georgia Bulldog” Shane Clanton took the lead on the first of 25 laps and held off Chris Ferguson en route to total domination at The Big E, picking up his $10,000 check in the process.
“It’s big. We’ve been struggling all year long. But it’s a never give up attitude in this game. So, we just work awful hard,” Clanton said in victory lane.
“I knew I had a good car. I just had to keep the nose clean there. I tried the top a little bit and he was trying to get some of that moisture up off the bottom. He was right where I needed to be to make a good lap. But I knew I was ok where I was. I didn’t feel like I was loosing no ground and could maintain down the straightaways.”
While it wasn’t quite “Fergy Time” just yet, Chris Ferguson was all smiles after passing Ross “The Boss” Bailes on Lap 3 in his Sweet Bloomquist chassis.
“That was fun, man. Me and Ross, we’re just a bunch of rednecks from South Carolina and North Carolina. We’re not supposed to be good on this stuff but that just goes to show you how tough we are around home.”
While It’s been an interesting ramp up to the 25th running of the Dirt Late Model Dream so far, teams won’t sleep well tonight as they prepare for the big payoff, where only one driver will take home $125,000 and bragging rights.
Race fans can watch all the action Saturday via a live, pay-per-view broadcast on DirtonDirt.com.
-Story by: Allick Jorgensen, Speed51.com National Correspondent - Twitter: @AJorgensen24
-Photo credit: Eldora Speedway