CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Jonathan Davenport successfully defended his Buckeye Spring 50 at Atomic Speedway on Friday Night.The large purse drew an elite field of 95 cars in two classes and an enthusiastic near-capacity crowd.
Davenport withstood an early race battle with Brian Shirley to take his fifth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win of the season, in front of a packed house. Jackie Boggs,Grayson, Kentucky, claimed the 25 -lap Modified portion of the program.
Davenport and Shirley battled for the first 18 laps of the 50 lap race until Davenport pulled ahead. Shirley then held off Jimmy Owens to finish second. Owens came home third, followed by Mike Marlar, and Darrell Lanigan.
“We had a great car tonight. We had some trouble in traffic, but overall we did well tonight. I can’t thank Kevin and Lee Roy Rumley enough for this opportunity to drive their car. Brian [Shirley] and I had a really good race for a long time. I threw that slider on him on the opening lap, but I give him credit, he fought back and got the lead back.”
“We haven’t raced since Speedweeks last month, so It feels good to be back behind the wheel of this car. Brian and I were running side-by-side there when we got up to traffic. I knew that I needed to get by him before traffic got too heavy.”
Shirley kept a slight advantage over Davenport until lap 18 when Davenport forged ahead for good. Shirley tried to stay with Davenport through heavy lap traffic for the rest of the caution-free main event.
Shirley could not get close enough to challenge Davenport in the final ten laps as he was being pressured by Owens for third.
“We are really happy to run second against these guys. Davenport is the best in the business right now. He slid by me on that first lap, but I came right back and got back around him. Not too many people in the last couple of years can say they’ve passed him lately.”
Driving with a new team this season, Owens, in the R&W Racing machine was extremely happy with his third place finish. “When we won that heat race it was like winning the World 100. The guys at R&W Racing have really stepped up. We had nothing right before we went to Georgia and Florida. We just announced this partnership before the new year.”
“We are taking baby steps. I would like to give a big thank you to Barry and Lance Wright, Custom Race Engines, E3 Spark Plugs, Red Line Oil, and everybody else who helps. We are looking forward to Boyd’s and East Alabama in a couple of weeks.”
Completing the top ten were Dustin Linville, Jeep Van Wormer, Duane Chamberlain, Scott Bloomquist, and Devin Moran.
In preliminary action, Jared Landers set the overall Miller Welders Fast Time (Group A) amongst the 50 entrants, with a lap of 13.786 seconds. Mike Marlar set the fastest time in Group B with a time of 14.040 seconds. Brian Shirley, Jimmy Owens, Darrell Lanigan, Mike Marlar, Jared Landers and Devin Moran won their respective heat races. Nick Latham and Jackie Boggs won their respective B-Mains.
In the Modified portion of the program, ‘The Cowboy” Cody Parker blitzed the Nation’s Fastest 3/38 mile Dirt Track with a 14:956 just four-thousandths quicker than eventual winner Jackie Boggs. Parker of Zanesville, Ohio received a Quartz Clock Fast Time Plaque from Diamond Cut Lawncare.
Heat winners were Greggie Oliver, the defending Atomic Champion; Jackie Boggs, Jesse Wisecarver, Devin Gilpin, David Mielke (Gladwin, Michigan), and Nathon Loney. Cars from five states participated in the modified event-Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, and Michigan.
The forty-five cars that clocked in were whittled down to an all-star 24-car line-up. Oliver and Boggs graced the pole, setting the stage for a wild cage fight. Albeit a few moments early when Oliver led the pack, and a brief thread of hope from charger Devin Gilpin, Columbus, Indiana; Boggs roared into a comfortable, yet challengeable lead.
Racing back in the pack was action-packed characterized by Mark Dickson’s charge from the tail to 13th—an eleven-position upgrade. Rick Aukland charged from 12th to 4th, while former AMRA champ John Burdette climbed from 11th to fifth.
Much of the race Boggs’ Dave Jamison team car, a #d4J Swartz Chassis, just recently built and Boggserized in the Boggs’ shop, led the freight-train around the super fast high banks. One could have thrown a blanket over Boggs, Wisecarver, and Gilpin much of the race. Following a lap 12 caution, the only miscue since the race went green, the first three-car race tightened.
Rick Aukland, John Burdette, Kenny Johnson, Greggie Oliver, David Mielke, Nathon Loney, and Cody Parker often went three-wide with Oliver, Mielke, and Loney getting shuffled out of the top five during the last several laps. Boggs charged on to the win.
“We had a great car tonight and the track was awesome,” said Boggs. “When the track gets like this it’s very racy. We just got this car together and it goes great on a smooth race track. Thanks to the great crowd that came out tonight and all of my sponsors.”
Rounding out the top ten were Jackie Boggs, Jesse Wisecarver, Devin Gilpin, Rick Aukland, John Burdette, Kenny Johnson, Greggie Oliver, David Mielke, Nathon Loney, and Cody Parker.
Saturday, March 26 will be the debut of the Ohio Sprint Car Series (OSCS) at Atomic Speedway paying $2,500 to win. The racing card this night will feature Late Models, Modifieds, and Sport Mods. Saturday, April 2 Atomic will host a co-sanctioned All-Star Sprint/OSCS sprint spectacular dubbed the “Rumble in the Hills” paying $5,000 to win with AMRA Modifieds and AMRA Sport Mods on the racing card. The 2016 410 Sprint class sponsor is Graphic Creations from Beaver Ohio.