ROSSBURG, Ohio — Superman has a new name. The Million Dollar Man.
Jonathan Davenport’s racing career can be summed up in two words. Battle tested.
From his early struggles on asphalt to his victories on dirt, the driver from Blairsville, Georgia, overcame every obstacle.
On Thursday night, the driver known as Superman took on the industry’s best late-model dirt drivers and won the 101-lap Eldora Million, earning $1,002,022 for winning the highest-paying race in the world. history of short track racing.
Davenport set a scorching pace throughout the first 75 laps. However, that’s when the battle for the checkered flag really began.
Tim McCreadie grabbed Davenport, sparking a war between the two veterans. They traded the lead for over 20 laps with slides and crossovers before Davenport took the lead.
‘T-Mac’ suffered a puncture with two laps to go, prompting a warning and setting up Davenport’s final challenge – a hungry Chris Madden in search of his first Eldora Crown Jewel win.
As the green flag waved, Madden slammed on the gas on the inside of the first turn, slightly ahead of Davenport as they raced down the backstretch.
However, ‘Superman’ didn’t let Madden be his kryptonite, passing the pilot from Gray Court, SC, in the third round and hanging on to win the second installment of the Eldora Million, worth 1,002,022. $.
Despite the million dollar prize, the amount of money he won was not fixed, as he felt it was similar to his other five Eldora Crown Jewel triumphs.
“I haven’t even thought about the money yet,” Davenport said. “I’m not really going to think about it until it’s in the bank account. It’s just another crown jewel here in Eldora. It’s just that I’ve won every single one I’ve won except for The Stream, and I don’t think we’ll do it again.
“It’s just a great opportunity to come here. This place is so awesome.
Davenport, who earned another $12,000 in a preliminary win on Thursday afternoon, had a game plan when he lined up next to Madden for the final restart. He knew how important it would be to land the turn two jump.
“Whether [Madden] tried to slide me, I knew it was so hard in the center that I could flip under him,” Davenport said. “But he was smart enough not to do that and had a good run [turn one and two.]
“I just had to keep my composure and let go, and let his dirty look get past me, and then I could turn around under him and try to slide him down the other end.”
The Georgian campaigner’s win at Eldora Million is his sixth win of the season and his sixth crown jewel at Eldora Speedway.
Madden finished second, passing 17 cars after starting 18th.
“I think we’re winning,” Madden said. “It’s the same old story, these guys can shoot and run faster than me, but after doing green flag laps and running five or six laps, we’re getting better.
“I keep saying it every time, but I guess it’s something to do with my package, my setup, my balance, whatever suits me. It just takes a little while to get started. We came from 20th or 19th or something to race for the win; that’s all you can ask for.
Devin Moran completed the podium Thursday night. He’s had his eye on the prize since the event was announced, trying to keep racing in the family as his father, Donnie, won the first Eldora Million in 2001.
“I just wish we could have come away second,” Moran said. “I certainly wouldn’t have been as nice as [Madden]. I just wanted this one so badly.
“But this race car was tough all day. We had a really good bit, and we got into it, and it’s by far the best we’ve ever been here.
McCreadie finished fourth, rebounding from a puncture in the race with Davenport.
“I must have crushed something; I didn’t notice it until it was two back and forths,” McCreadie said. “I lay a bit on the front right rear [turn three]and it shook all the way down the front stretch.
“I don’t think he was blistered or in pieces. I just walked through something; I do not know. It may have gone down a lot in the end. It just wasn’t meant to be.
Chris Ferguson finished fifth, building on the momentum of his preliminary win on Thursday afternoon.
“Having the momentum was definitely a little disappointing,” Ferguson said. “After the Heat Race, I felt like I was going to be one of the fastest cars in the Feature. But sometimes you adjust too much, and we miss it, but luckily we have two days what’s more.
Feature (101 laps): 1. Jonathan Davenport, 2. Chris Madden, 3. Devin Moran, 4. Tim McCreadie, 5. Chris Ferguson, 6. Dale McDowell, 7. Mike Marlar, 8. Kyle Bronson, 9. Brandon Sheppard, 10. Hudson O’Neal, 11. Bobby Pierce, 12. Earl Pearson Jr., 13. Ricky Weiss, 14. Spencer Hughes, 15. Dennis Erb Jr., 16. Johnny Scott, 17. Gregg Satterlee, 18. Darrell Lanigan, 19 years old. Jimmy Owens, 20 years old. Trent Ivey, 21. Shannon Babb, 22 years old. Ricky Thornton Jr., 23. Nick Hoffman, 24. Shane Claton.