Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Dirty: 2022 Sunshine State 50 at All-Tech

The Headline(s)

Jonathan Davenport secured the 2022 XR Super Series championship by winning the Sunshine 50, eclipsing $2 million in earnings for the first time in dirt racing history.

How it Happened

2022 Sunshine State 50 (XR Super Series)
Where: All-Tech Raceway – Lake City, Fla. (streamed on RaceXR)
Winner’s Purse: $40,000

The inaugural XR Super Series season ended with a bang Saturday night, with Jonathan Davenport sneaking under local hot shoe Mark Whitener to win the Sunshine 50, securing a $40,000 payday and the 2022 XR Super Series points crown (Davenport only needed to start the race to secure the crown). 

As evidenced by the huge novelty check, Davenport’s victory allowed the late model star to break $2 million in winnings in 2022, making him the first driver in the history of late model racing to accomplish such a feat. The night was bittersweet though, as Saturday’s race marked the end of a longtime partnership with crew chief Jason Durham, who is moving to Stormy Scott’s race team for 2023 to reduce time on the road.

Saturday’s feature was as racy as super late models have seen in 2022, with seven green-flag changes for the lead occurring among four drivers over the course of 50 laps. 

2022 SUNSHINE STATE 50 RACE RESULTS

Success Stories

Davenport. $2 million in a single season. Even if the Eldora Million is removed from his totals, Davenport broke the $1 million threshold in winnings that Brandon Overton came oh so close to breaching just a year ago. Can’t argue with those numbers. Plus, Saturday’s Sunshine State 50 win was a comeback of sorts for Davenport, as he made contact with the wall both during Thursday practice and qualifying for Friday’s preliminary feature.

It took a night to get in rhythm, but by the end of Saturday Overton was a contender driving Kevin Rumley’s Longhorn Chassis R&D car, finishing in the runner-up position in his first ride of 2022 outside of his Wells Motorsports No. 76. Overton led 14 laps during the Sunshine State 50 feature.

Hunt the Front Youtube star Joseph Joiner brought home big results in his home state, finishing on the podium in third on both Friday and Saturday nights. HTF fans best enjoy this one, as Joiner mentioned to XR during Saturday’s telecast that his racing may be cut back in 2023 as his wife is expecting a child in January. 

Meanwhile, HTF’s Jesse Enterkin grabbed hard charger honors during the Sunshine State 50, improving from 24th to 14th by race’s end.

Lastly, the move of the race had to belong to Kyle Strickler, even if it wasn’t trademark “High Side Tickler.” Strickler took the race lead on lap 16 with an absolute banzai move past Whitener in a gaggle of lap traffic in turn 1. 

Vexed, Villains & Victims

One of the Longhorn Chassis big guns took the bad luck for all the rest this weekend, and the unlucky driver was Tim McCreadie. McCreadie was contending for the preliminary feature win Friday before contact with eventual race winner Ashton Winger damaged his nose and prevented him from challenging for the checkers.

Saturday was worst, suffering a mechanical issue during Saturday’s heat race that forced him to miss the B-main and start from the back of the Sunshine State 50 using a provisional. McCreadie raced his way into the top 10 before suffering another issue on track with 12 laps to go, bringing out a yellow flag.

Speaking of Winger, 2022 has been a drama-filled year, and seeing the Georgian score a $20,000 win Friday only to spend his entire victory lane speech apologizing to McCreadie and reminding himself to stop making mistakes was strangely appropriate. Winger was quieter on Saturday, finishing sixth in the Sunshine State 50, but was the closest thing to a villain the weekend at All-Tech Raceway had.

John Winge made the trip all the way from South Dakota to race in Florida, only to miss both features Friday and Saturday night.

Fanning the Flames

This weekend marked the first races I’ve watched at All-Tech since it put its new clay down and man oh man, what an awesome racing surface. Slick as hell, unpredictable and multi-grooved, the Lake City track can easily boast being on the same level as Volusia and East Bay on the Florida late model scene. Fans that opted to watch the Gateway Dirt Nationals in lieu of the Sunshine State 50 missed out big.

For as much hype as XR puts on itself being a technology company, the social media presence for its events just continues to be dwarfed by what Flo Racing is doing. Twitter was virtually silent despite Saturday’s race being a barnburner.

There was no shortage of heavy hitters in the super late model field at All-Tech this weekend, but the car count was underwhelming no matter how you cut it. Having 28 late models show up for a $40,000-to-win feature and only 39 cars show up for a two-class program is not a success story. The advent of the XR Super Series was a large driver for just how many big-money races proliferated across dirt late model racing in 2022, but the series may well have made a victim of itself. After a summer full of five-figure payouts, a lot of drivers apparently didn’t need to race for another one in what’s typically the offseason.

All season long I’ve refused to jump on the bandwagon of race fans attributing everything from Davenport’s dominance to the COVID pandemic on the droop rule that was in place across most major tours in 2022. I’m still on the fence that dropping the droop rule was responsible for the good show at All-Tech this weekend, as the XR event at the same track in April was also fantastic, but it’s hard to argue with results, and the reality is the Sunshine State 50 had no droop rule and was a late model show worth watching on a half-mile. Thoughts for 2023.

The results weren’t spectacular, but Northeast modified beast Matt Sheppard proved plenty competent making his super late model debut for Big Frog Motorsports, including a B-main win on Friday. Here’s hoping Volusia’s wishes become reality.

The XR Super Series folks announced a tour ticket pricing plan that went into effect with this weekend’s Sunshine State 50 that struck me as completely reasonable, so on that note it was very encouraging to see the fans respond at pack All-Tech on Saturday night. Race fans need to remember demands for lower-priced anything means volume has to increase.

Numbers Game

28

Super late models entered in the Sunshine State 50.

$1,012

Winner’s share of Friday’s 50/50 at All-Tech Raceway.

$2,500

Pay to start Saturday’s Sunshine State 50 feature.

Where it Rated (on a scale of one to six cans with one a stinker and a six-pack an instant classic): Give the Sunshine State 50 six stiff screwdrivers made with Florida OJ. Saturday night’s feature was damn good both quantitatively and qualitatively, and the chance to watch a real late model race on the same weekend as the Gateway Dirt Nationals play Jerry Springer on dirt was a very welcome way to conclude Thinkin’ Dirty’s 2022 season. Really sad this race currently isn’t back on the schedule for 2023.

Up Next: Frontstretch’s annual dirt racing awards column will run Thursday, then it’s time for a few weeks off for this writer. We’ll be back with our dirt racing coverage starting New Year’s Day. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all our readers.

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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