Cherokee Speedway Opening Day 2009
Davenport Goes Flag to Flag at Cherokee
Georgia Driver Jonathan Davenport had a very busy weekend. A weekend that is very fitting to his nickname, Superman.
First, he competed in the Modoc 100, for Crate Late Models, Friday and Saturday night. Davenport worked his way to the front, taking the lead with 40-laps to go to capture the $10,000 first prize money.
Then at the Cherokee Speedway Sunday afternoon, Davenport grabbed the lead on the opening lap and held off all challengers to capture another $10,000 prize.
Davenport won his heat race and he started on the outside of row one, in his Rumley prepared Rocket, with a full field of 24 cars ready to battle in the dirt track version of March Madness.
After a strong run off turn two to get the early lead, Davenport was pulling away from the field before the first of four caution flags waved.
That first caution was for a slower car having a tire problem, but the following restart produced the biggest crash of the day.
Four cars were involved, as the field charged into turn one. Jeff Cooke saw his day end as his #99-car received heavy damage to both the front and rear of the car. Defending O’Reilly Southern All Stars East Division Champion Casey Roberts also left the race, after running a few more laps, due to damage from the crash. Monk Gullage also had damage but he was able to continue.
Davenport again jumped out to a big lead; only to see that lead evaporate while working his way through lapped traffic. Chris Madden, who won a O’Reilly Southern All Stars race down in North Georgia Saturday night, closed the gap and dove low going into turn three, pulling along side Davenport. Madden had his nose slightly ahead of Davenport when he lost control of his car and spun out of turn four.
Once again, on the restart Davenport jumped out to a big lead, only to see Clint Smith closing in on him in the waning laps.
Davenport took the white flag holding on to a lead of about four car lengths over Smith, when just ahead of them, a couple of cars battling for position got tangled up. Petey Ivey did a great job to save his car after he was hooked and almost hit the wall, but he lost all of his momentum, leaving him, and a couple of other cars, at a snails pace as the leaders charged to the finish line.
Keeping his foot pegged to the floor, Davenport took the checkered flag, but then took a wild ride. Davenport drove high to avoid Ivey and his car hooked the cushion, sending him out of control into the turn one wall. The car rode up the wall, almost rolling over, before coming to rest in turn two. Davenport walked away from the wreck to wait on his car, which was delivered by wrecker, in the Winner’s Circle.
“I knew Clint was closing in on me, so I had to stay hard in the gas to the line. I drove high hoping to miss Petey, and it felt like the lower control arm dug in on the cushion. After that, I was along for the ride. This car was great today,” said Davenport.
Davenport was right about that control arm. There was a huge rut plowed into the cushion area where his car dug in before the impact with the wall.
In the Winner’s Circle at the Cherokee Speedway Sunday night, Jonathan Davenport was unsure about his next race, due to the damage to the car. But from the looks on the faces of his crew, the Rumley Family, I believe we will see Superman back in action very soon.