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  • Progress photo by Travis Dockery
    Blairsville, Georgia’s Jonathan Davenport puts No.116 through its paces during Super Late Model hot laps.

Davenport claims championship

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“You know it’s always special to get to come back to my home track." - Jonathan Davenport

It was a record day at Tri County Racetrack for the sixth annual Memorial Day Championship. The 108 cars that filled the pit area and part of the parking lot were the track’s highest car count in its 48 years of operation. The Spring Nationals Super Late Model series was the main event that took to the clay banking in front of a standing-room-only crowd.
The Street Stock division kicked off the feature events with “Booger” Brooks leading the field to the green. Brooks broke out from the pack and established an early lead but as the laps clicked off, Jason Brown closed in. Brown looked high and low but Brooks held on to take the win. Brown settled for second with Marlin Gunter finishing third.
Next up was the Interstate Welding Modified Hobby division. Bobby Elkins set quick time during qualifying to earn the top starting sport. At the drop of the green, John Howard used his outside front row starting spot to slingshot past Elkins on the outside. Elkins jumped in behind Howard and attempted to stay with the leader. The pace of the race was slowed several times with cautions which gave Elkins several opportunities to charge Howard on restarts. Those attempts were in vain, however, and Howard got the win with Elkins and Brandon Stroud in tow. Although he crossed the finish line in third place, Stroud’s car failed post-race inspection which gave Kenny Taylor the third finishing spot.
After a Memorial Day tribute consisting of fireworks and patriotic music, it was time for the 40 lap Super Late Model feature. The 2015 Lucas Oil Late Model champion Jonathan Davenport returned to his home track with style and speed. Davenport was behind the wheel of the No.116 car, which is usually piloted by Randy Weaver, and had the fastest qualifying speed. He also won the “Dash for Cash” which is a race in which the drivers with the top four qualifying times compete for four laps. Not only did Davenport receive the cash prize, the win also secured the number one starting spot for the driver known as “Superman.”
The green flag waved and the field rocketed down the front stretch. Murphy’s David Payne had the momentum through turns one and two and cleared Davenport on the backstretch to take the lead. Series points leader Donald McIntosh ran the two leaders down and made it a three-way race for the lead. Payne and Davenport exchanged slide job passes over the next few laps before Payne and McIntosh both passed Davenport in turn four. With a move that looked like a replay of Payne’s winning pass at the track’s last event, Davenport split his two competitors on the front stretch and reassumed the lead in turn one.
“Superman” then began to pull away and work lap traffic with Payne not far behind. McIntosh was running third when the No.157 of Mike Marlar got an incredible run down the backstretch and was unable to avoid the No.7 of McIntosh. The two made contact in turn three which sent McIntosh spinning. Race officials determined the contact was incidental and Marlar was allowed to keep the third position while McIntosh restarted at the rear of the field.
Things settled down after the resulting restart and Davenport led the final laps to take the win. In his victory lane interview, he showed appreciation to the track he calls home. “You know it’s always special to get to come back to my home track. Ray Cook has done an amazing job with this place and the fans are awesome. I hope this place has racing like this for many more years.”

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