Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Dirty: 2022 Hawkeye 50 at Boone Speedway

The Headline(s)

Jonathan Davenport held off World of Outlaws late model points leader Dennis Erb Jr. to win the Hawkeye 50, his second five-figure payday in two days.

How it Happened

2022 Hawkeye 50 (World of Outlaws Late Models)
Where: Boone Speedway – Boone, Iowa (streamed on DirtVision)
Winner’s Purse: $20,000

All it took was one mistake from polesitter Tyler Bruening and that was all she wrote. Jonathan Davenport, 24 hours removed from a $53,000 win at I-80 Speedway Sunday night, led the last 48 laps of Monday’s Hawkeye 50 in Iowa after Bruening got crossed up in turn 2, grabbing a $20,000 paycheck to add to his nation-leading winnings total in 2022.

Though Davenport was the class of the field, a late-race caution for Boom Briggs with 10 laps to go made the win a lot easier. Dennis Erb Jr., the current World of Outlaws late model points leader, proved to be unstoppable on the low side of the Boone Speedway and was running down Davenport in lapped traffic prior to the lap 41 yellow. 

Though Davenport made the feature academic up front, the battle through the top five was stellar, with Erb, Bruening, Ryan GustinMike Marlar and Devin Moran putting on a show. 

Erb Jr.’s second-place finish allowed him to extend his series points leader, with current runner-up Max Blair finishing ninth.


Success Stories

In his victory lane interview, Davenport sounded about as clueless as I’ve ever heard him, lamenting that the track needed work to put on a better race and that he didn’t really know how to get around the black dirt surface (Monday marked Davenport’s first race at Boone). Despite mistaking the on-track product as needing improvement (it didn’t, the racing was FANTASTIC) and supposedly being lost, Davenport led 48 laps and won $20,000. I wish I was that productive when lost.

Watching Erb Jr. run down Davenport only to have a late-race caution derail his momentum was just the latest reminder of how the driver known as the “One Man Band” is still criminally underrated, even while leading a national touring series. I spent much of last season lamenting that Brandon Sheppard’s efforts were wasted on the WoO tour. I’m starting to think I’d like to see Erb Jr.’s No. 28 make the same move to Lucas Oil racing next year.

Tanner English unofficially won the hard charger award in Monday’s Hawkeye 50, going from 18th to seventh in the feature.

Tyler Bruening finished a strong fourth and put up a whale of a fight with Mike Marlar in the second half of the race, at one point taking third from a driver that’s been every bit the caliber of Madden and Davenport in 2022. However…

Vexed, Villains & Victims

Bruening had the advantage of starting from the pole in Monday’s feature, and lost both the race lead and second place early to Davenport and Marlar not because those drivers were better, but because Bruening got crossed-up on corner exit twice. Self-inflicted errors while leading continue to plague the Iowa native, who saw a major-dollar opportunity during the Dairyland Showdown in May go out the window the same way.

See also
Thinkin' Dirty: 2022 Dairyland Showdown at Mississippi Thunder

Of the 10 cars that failed to qualify for the Hawkeye 50, none had a bigger-name driver than Dale McDowell’s. To see McDowell as uncompetitive as he was in his last-chance race was the surprise of the evening.

I can appreciate Bobby Pierce’s frustration Monday night, as he was the defending Hawkeye 100 winner and was showing speed in the closing laps of Monday’s 50-lapper that suggested with another 50 laps he’d have been a force to reckon with. I can’t appreciate his comments about track prep though, because while there wasn’t a cushion on the Boone surface Monday, Mike Marlar had no problem using a higher line to take positions.

Brian Shirley brought out the first yellow of the race on lap 3 with a spin that dropped him from a ninth-place running spot. Shirley never returned to the top 10.

Fanning the Flames

I’m from the South and will always love the sight of red clay, but watching races like the Hawkeye 50, I will concede … black dirt matters when it comes to dirt racing.

With a track that racy, thank God the Outlaws didn’t opt to keep the gimmicky three-wide start that last year’s Hawkeye 100 utilized. 

See also
Thinkin' Dirty: 2021 Hawkeye 100 at Boone

With their premier late model tour racing live on a Monday night, with a field of cars that’s far stouter than a regular Outlaws show, I cannot fathom why DirtVision opted to have their new iRacing late model series debut as a live broadcast running simultaneously as the real cars were running. Especially considering Tuesday night’s slate has no late models on the docket.

I can fathom why DirtVision opted to have a live cut-in of their iRacing coverage on the actual broadcast from Boone as track prep was going on Monday night. I don’t have to like it. Frankly, I’d rather watch track prep with the audio muted than watch video game racing be treated like something to take seriously. 

I’ve never been to Boone Speedway before, but the view from their observation deck looks to be worth the trip. I know Boone isn’t the only track to have erected such decks, and they shouldn’t be the last.

Despite racing on a black dirt bullring instead of the larger half-miles that have made them a lot of money in 2022, Jonathan Davenport and Mike Marlar were still on the Hawkeye 50 podium come night’s end. Maybe it’s a good thing Chris Madden wrecked at I-80 this weekend and had to return home … this year’s late model “big three” are making the podium a little too academic of late.

Numbers Game

2 – yellow flags that interrupted the Hawkeye 50 feature.

13 – career World of Outlaws late model wins for Hawkeye 50 winner Jonathan Davenport.

33 – super late models entered in the Hawkeye 50 Monday night.

Where it Rated (on a scale of one to six cans with one a stinker and a six-pack an instant classic): We’ll give the Hawkeye 50 five Iowa Eagle Lagers from Iowa Brewing Company. The prelims being uneventful and Davenport dominating the lead was all that kept a stellar 50-lap feature from a full six-pack.

Up Next: Thinkin’ Dirty sticks with the late models, but it’s back to the World of Outlaws ranks this coming weekend, with the annual Prairie Dirt Classic going off for $50,000 to win at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway in Illinois. Coverage can be found on DirtVision.

About the author

Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.

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