Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Dirty: 2022 Florida Dirt Nationals at All-Tech

The Headline(s)

Jonathan Davenport finally broke into the win column for 2022, comfortably scoring a big $50,000 victory Saturday night (April 23) in the Florida Dirt Nationals finale at All-Tech Raceway.

How it Happened

2022 Florida Dirt Nationals (XR Super Series)
Where: All-Tech Raceway – Lake City, Fla. (streamed on RaceXR)
Winner’s Purse: $25,000 Friday, $50,000 Saturday

Perhaps the unlikeliest winless steak in dirt late model racing came to a close Saturday night, as Jonathan Davenport stomped the XR Super Series field at All-Tech Raceway to score his second career $50,000 win with the sanctioning body after he won the Bristol Dirt Nationals finale a year ago.

Davenport had been caught by Brandon Overton roughly 10 laps into the feature, but a stretch of three cautions between laps 12 and 18 broke Big Sexy’s momentum and marked the last serious threat Davenport faced all night. The battle through the rest of the field was hot and heavy on an All-Tech racing surface that slicked over and offered multi-groove racing both evenings of the inaugural Florida Dirt Nationals.

SATURDAY RACE RESULTS

Friday night’s feature was redemption of a different kind, with defending Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion Tim McCreadie storming to victory on the high side late in the feature, scoring his first career win on the XR tour. The win was a comeback for McCreadie, who missed the second week of the Bristol Dirt Nationals last month after his primary racecar was destroyed at Bristol following a hard wreck from a flat tire.

FRIDAY RACE RESULTS

Success Stories

Kyle Strickler didn’t take a checkered flag in either a heat or a feature all weekend, but that didn’t stop the High-Side Tickler from posting the highest average finish of anyone at the Florida Dirt Nationals, a scorching 2.0 after finishing runner-up both nights. The weekend was easily the best Strickler has looked since winning two World of Outlaws features at Volusia last February; his reward became $35,000 in race winnings.

A return to Florida brought a return to relevancy for native Kyle Bronson, who after a disappointing Speedweeks ran up front for the state’s biggest super late model race of the spring. Bronson won a heat race and ran a clean third on Friday night, then was a top-10 fixture for much of the evening Saturday before losing track position to pit for a flat tire late. Still, that was the strongest the No. 40 car has looked in 2022.

Plus, that new paint scheme is fire.

Chris Madden didn’t have the same form that saw him dominate the Bristol Dirt Nationals last month, but finishes of sixth and eighth this weekend saw Madden leave Florida with the XR Super Series points lead over Davenport.

Brandon Overton scored top-five finishes in both Florida Dirt Nationals features and was the only driver in the field to win heat races both Friday and Saturday.

Vexed, Villains & Victims

Defending DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion Bobby Pierce endured a disappointing trip south this weekend, finishing outside the top 10 Saturday after missing Friday’s feature; Pierce was in a transfer spot in his heat race before a wall slap relegated him to a B-main. Pierce then fell one spot short of a transfer in said B-main.

Modified ace Nick Hoffman missed both features after topping the hot-lap speed chart during Florida Dirt Nationals practice Thursday night. True to form, the driver at least had a sense of humor about it.

 

Michael Page got a huge jump at the start of Saturday’s first B-main that saw him go last to fourth on the opening lap. But by lap 3, his No. 18 slapped the turn 1 wall and was done for the night.

There was no driver in the field that ended more familiar with All-Tech’s Raceway walls than Ricky Thornton Jr. While the No. 20RT car showed a ton of speed, with Thornton even besting Davenport during a heat race on Friday, Saturday saw the Indiana transplant continually scraping the concrete en route to a disappointing 19th-place finish. That’s not to say the fans didn’t enjoy the display.

High Springs, Fla.’s Austin Phelps endured arguably the roughest weekend of any Florida Dirt Nationals competitor in the street stock division. Friday night saw Phelps spin out twice in the closing laps of the feature, while Saturday saw his No. 14 car have its entire front end torn off on the first lap of the B-main.

NASCAR Regulars

Defending Cup Series champion Kyle Larson was a surprising non-factor during both nights of the Florida Dirt Nationals despite returning to an All-Tech Raceway that he dominated a LOLMDS feature on just last year. While Larson scored a top-10 finish on Friday, the next night saw Larson have to win a B-main to make the feature, spin out to draw a yellow flag on lap 12 and end up in 17th when the checkered flag flew.

Fanning the Flames

Like I said after two weeks of underwhelming racing at Bristol, the XR Super Series should have debuted with the Florida Dirt Nationals. Racing in desirable weather on an actual dirt track with a proven track record of a good racing surface, Friday and Saturday night both put on races worthy of the caliber of driver they drew. And fortunately, this time the crowd delivered as well.

Let’s talk about that All-Tech surface. Both nights it slicked over, both nights offered multiple grooves to race on, and both nights saw comers and goers throughout the super late model field. This track surface can hold its own with just about any track in the United States right now, which is an accomplishment, especially given that its within easy driving distance of premier dirt tracks East Bay Raceway Park and Volusia Speedway Park. Just as the expanded Speedweeks schedule for the LOLMDS tour at this facility is a positive, so is the XR Super Series making a home here. Bring on the 2023 Florida Dirt Nationals.

Credit goes to the XR booth for doing an excellent job presenting racing going on throughout the field at All-Tech. There’s a real art to showing the full field in action over the course of features that can end in less than 20 minutes, and it was on display this weekend. It honestly put FloRacing’s coverage of the Kyle Larson Late Model Challenge last week to shame.

If I have one complaint from the video replay on RaceXR, it’s how the service posts replays as edited segments rather than as a full taped replay. Having an option to select heat races, B-main or feature replays is a nice perk, but segmented replays that edit out caution laps, pace laps and post-race interviews do rob the fan of a better viewing experience. I’ll always take the option to watch full stream replays and I’m sure plenty of others out there would, too.

Numbers Game

9 – cautions that flew across two Florida Dirt Nationals late model features.

38 – super late models entered for Florida Dirt Nationals weekend.

$2,500 – pay to start either Florida Dirt Nationals late model feature this weekend.

Where it Rated (on a scale of one to six cans, with one a stinker and a six-pack an instant classic): The first XR Super Series event to run on an actual dirt track gets five Florida Crackers from Cigar City Brewing. The racing on display this weekend would hold its own with any seen during Speedweeks and was a welcome glimpse into what this big-dollar series actually can be. More action for the lead during Saturday’s feature (and a full taped replay) would have had the Florida Dirt Nationals pushing six-pack territory.

Up Next: The big money returns to the Bristol Dirt Track this coming weekend, with the World of Outlaws bringing both their sprint car and late model series to run for a pair of $25,000-to-win features Friday and Saturday night. Coverage can be found on DirtVision.

About the author

Senior Commentator at Frontstretch

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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