Craig Murto: Davenport dominates Hagerstown

Dirt Late Model racing is alive and well, and no Dirt Late Model series is healthier than the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.

Dirt Late Model racing is alive and well, and no Dirt Late Model series is healthier than the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.

Jonathan Davenport drove away from the field on Saturday night to win the 37th Annual Stanley Schetrompf Classic at Hagerstown (Maryland) Speedway. The current Lucas Oil series championship points leader became the 11th different victor in 11 visits the series has made to the speedway.

Davenport, 34, of Blairsville, Georgia, withstood the challenges of defending track champion Kyle Lee, and Scott Bloomquist early on en route to his fourth series win of the year. Bloomquist held off numerous charges by young Tyler Bare, who was competing in only the third Super Late Model race of his career. Bare ultimately settled for third in his first career Lucas Oil series start. Tim McCreadie was fourth with Rookie of the Year hopeful Mason Zeigler completing the Top 5.

“Man, all the credit goes to my crew,” Davenport said in Victory Lane.

Bloomquist survived a battle at the end with Bare and McCreadie to bring home another good points night.

“Our car was good all night,” said the legendary dirt driver from Tennessee. “Jonathan was really good as well. I didn’t know who was driving the 43A car, but we had a good battle there. Another podium finish isn’t bad, we will take it and head to Port Royal tomorrow night.”

Bare was in the 43A. The Rockbridge Baths, Virginia, driver held his own against the nation’s top racers.

“These guys in front of me, they are the best of the best,” Bare said. “We had a great run. I got into Scott (Bloomquist) once there, and he just took off from there. This is only my third super race that I have run. We have run a bunch of crate races. Thanks to Brian Klinedinst for giving me an opportunity to drive his car.”

Completing the Top 10 were Earl Pearson Jr., Gregg Satterlee, Darrell Lanigan, Kyle Lee, and Don O’Neal.

While NASCAR’s fan base appears to be shrinking, dirt tracks around the country are packing the grandstands. And series such as Lucas Oil are gaining popularity.

Lucas Oil is a national touring series that also enjoys tape-delayed TV coverage. One of the best things about the series is that when it rolls into a local track such as Hagerstown, the local favorites get to compete against the top racers in the nation.

This is part of the appeal of Dirt Late Model racing. With only slight variations of rules, a Dirt Late Model is a Dirt Late Model anywhere across the country. This gives local racers a chance to compete against the best when the best roll into town.

It also leads to surprises for the fans. One year the late legendary racer Jack Boggs unexpectedly showed up for the Winchester 200. That would be as if Kyle Busch unexpectedly showed up to compete at Shenandoah Speedway.

Of course, Busch actually does show up at short tracks around the country. Nearly every December he competes in the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.

Last Thursday night at Langley Speedway in Hampton, the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown raised money for the Denny Hamlin Foundation. More than 30 NASCAR Late Model Stock Cars competed in the 200-lap feature as the packed grandstand full of spectators braved cold temperatures and strong winds to watch Denny Hamlin and Busch lead the way.

Besides some of the best Late Model racers in the region, NASCAR regulars Myatt Snider and Brett Moffit also were in the field, as was Ty Gibbs, grandson of the former Redskins coach.

Langley Speedway is directly across from the NASA wind tunnel associated with the air force base in Hampton. Saturday night the special events continue on the tough bullring, as NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East competes.

We have plenty of short tracks within three or four hours travel time worth exploring. You can see everything from Late Models, Sprint Cars, Modifieds, on dirt and pavement. Also within reach are the road courses at Summit Point, West Virginia, and Virginia International Raceway near Danville. Make it a point to explore your motorsport options in 2018.