Jonathan Davenport’s reign of terror continued Saturday night (Aug. 20), leading all 100 laps to score his first career Topless 100 victory and his fourth consecutive feature win in national late model competition.
How it Happened
2022 Topless 100 (Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series)
Where: Batesville Motor Speedway – Batesville, Ark. (streamed on Flo Racing)
Winner’s Purse: $50,000
Another crown jewel race, another flag-to-flag performance by Jonathan Davenport. For the third time this month, Davenport led all 100 laps of a crown jewel late model race, scoring his third win of $50,000 or more in three weeks in the Topless 100 at Batesville. The win shook demons for Davenport from a year ago, where he lost this race on the last lap to Hudson O’Neal.
It’s @MAVTV on FloRacing!
— FloRacing (@FloRacing) August 21, 2022
It has to be said though, the caution flag ended up being Davenport’s best friend on the night as a flurry of yellows through the first half of the race kept the leader out of lapped traffic. After the caution flew on lap 73 for David Payne’s wreck in turn 4, a 22-lap green flag run saw a rout turn into a race up front, with O’Neal and Dale McDowell both closing in on Davenport as he battled through lapped traffic.
All the momentum that those two had went out the window, however, on lap 95, when Stormy Scott slowed on the backstretch and brought out the final yellow of the night, allowing Davenport to run clean laps to the checkered as O’Neal couldn’t build enough momentum on the high side to make the pass.
What more can be said about Davenport, who has absolutely dominated super late model racing since taking home the Eldora Million in June. Take a look at his month of August. Five feature wins, including four in a row over the last two weekends. And over those last two weekends at Florence and Batesville, Davenport has led 330 consecutive feature laps and banked $135,000 in winnings. There is no hotter driver in motorsports right now.
We might go 100 more years before there are no passes for the lead in the PDC, USA Nats, North-South and Topless all IN A ROW in the same year. @TheFast49 is on another planet right now. BTW the 49 is already a Top 5 driver of all time … and climbing.
— Michael Rigsby (@MFRDirtonDirt) August 21, 2022
O’Neal didn’t win hard charger on the night (shout out to Kyle Beard for that honor, who went from 27th to 10th in the Topless 100 despite suffering a flat tire on lap 27), but his 16th to second charge marked the second year in a row that he was arguably the best show on track at Batesville, even if he came up one spot short Saturday. Take away that lap 95 yellow and O’Neal very well may have been the driver to unseat Davenport.
Finishing 11th isn’t a flashy result, but LOLMDS rookie Daulton Wilson deserves a ton of credit for his persistence Saturday night. Wilson first transferred into the Topless 100 after running the second half of the second B-main on a flat left-front tire. From there, Wilson battled back from a flat tire on lap 66 that brought out another caution to score his 11th-place run.
Vexed, Villains & Victims
Tyler Erb was arguably the first driver in the field that appeared to have something for Davenport at the front of the field, finding the high side of the track earlier than much of the rest of the field. His top-five run went out the window on lap 60, when he brought out the yellow in turn 2 with an issue under the hood. His team did get his car back on track, where he finished 13th.
Billy Moyer Sr. made a rare start after selling his racing operation last season and didn’t skip a beat, shaking off a spin on lap 2 that necessitated repairs to his car nose to charge from 28th to 12th by the time the caution flew on lap 27. Unfortunately, under that same yellow Moyer ended up retiring his car.
Cabot, Ark.’s Payne took a emergency provisional into the Topless 100 feature, meaning that he had to sacrifice the start money for the sake of being able to race for Comp Cams Series points (the Comp Cams series co-sanctioned the event with the LOLMDS). Translation, when Payne got into a destructive incident on lap 73, he ended up with a destroyed racecar and only $100 tow money to show for it.
Fanning the Flames
There have been few more epic failures in streaming production than MAVTV cutting away from Billy Moyer Jr.’s banzai charge on Tyler Stevens in the first Topless 100 B-main that came up a car length short of sending him to the A-main.
Typical @MAVTV production battle for the final transfer spot and let’s go to the start finish line and watch the leader take the checkers…….
— furb (@Furbdirttrackin) August 21, 2022
Leaving a feverish battle on track to see the leader take a B-main checkered flag unmolested makes absolutely no sense at all. If MAVTV can put broadcasts on actual TV they can certainly make a split screen work?
Let’s give credit where it’s due to MAVTV though. It was a HUGE help to have commentator James Essex make a point to give a laps complete count under every caution flag. In 100-lap futures that’s an enormous help to race fans, be they watching online or sitting in the grandstands. And the signal issues that made the first third of last year’s feature unwatchable were not repeated this year.
Masterclass in how to get TV time. Batesville, Ark.’s Jeff Taylor won the modified support class feature Saturday night and opted to do burnouts in a muddy infield, then weave through the sponsor placards en route to victory lane. Doing that weave, he clipped a General Tire banner and had to get an assist from a track official to remove the sign before he could drive into victory lane. It was a good thing he did that too… because for whatever reason Batesville’s victory lane pictures were taken in front of the car, blocking all the car’s sponsor decals.
I spent Saturday afternoon catching a couple of kart races at some smaller ovals I hadn’t been to before. Returning home to watch the Topless 100, all I could think watching the “topless” late models was how much they looked like cage karts. And no, super late models resembling go-karts is not a compliment.
Hot take taking the top of the car off makes them look cheaper and doesn't do anything extra for me
— Connor Ferguson (@cfchangs9) August 20, 2022
Two years covering this race, I still think topless is a gimmick best reserved for spring break. Besides, Davenport’s car proved just as dominant despite missing a roof.
Yellow flags in Saturday’s Topless 100 feature.
Super late models entered for Saturday’s Topless 100.
Pay to start Saturday’s Topless 100 (for starters not on an emergency provisional).
Where it Rated (on a scale of one to six cans with one a stinker and a six-pack an instant classic): Give the Topless 100 three and a half Trash Panda IPAs from Lost Panda Brewing. The 22-lap green flag run in the closing laps of Saturday’s feature was as good as late model racing gets. But to see both the B-mains and the first half of Saturday’s feature interrupted time and time again by yellow flags robbed the entire night of any rhythm.
Up Next: Thinkin’ Dirty stays on tour with the Lucas Oil tour, as it heads to the Palace of Speed in Port Royal, Pa. for the $50,000-to-win Rumble by the River. Coverage can be found Saturday on Flo Racing.
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