Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Dirty: 2022 Historic 100 at West Virginia Motor Speedway

The Headline(s)

Jonathan Davenport wired the 50-lap finale feature of the Historic 100 weekend at West Virginia Motor Speedway, continuing his dominance at the restored venue.

How it Happened

2022 Historic 100 (Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series)
Where: West Virginia Motor Speedway – Mineral Wells, W.V. (streamed on MAVTV Plus)
Winner’s Purse: $50,000 (Saturday)

Jonathan Davenport proved untouchable Saturday night in West Virginia, besting Brandon Overton on the race’s initial start and never again facing a challenge in scoring a $50,000 victory in the Historic 100, his fourth win at the 0.625-mile speed plant since the track re-opened a year ago.

While Davenport’s undefeated streak at the track was snapped on Friday night by Devin Moran (Davenport still finished second), the No. 49 team was in dominant form all weekend, winning heat races both nights of competition in a field that saw four of the top-five currently ranked late model drivers in the nation competing.

Saturday night did more to close the points atop the Lucas Oil standings, with points leader Brandon Sheppard proving a complete non-factor in finishing 14th while both Tim McCreadie and Tyler Erb scored top-10 finishes on the night.

RACE RESULTS

Success Stories

Yes, Davenport is no longer undefeated at the new West Virginia Motor Speedway, but winning two heat races and scoring an average finish of 1.5 across the two features of the Historic 100 weekend is about as dominant as it gets. Plus, the No. 49 team will be carrying major big-track momentum heading towards the Eldora Million. 

Devin Moran had a disappointing Saturday, but his win in Friday’s Historic 100 preliminary feature made him the first driver in the country to best Davenport on the WVMS oval.

Brandon Overton was never able to seriously challenge Davenport for the race lead, but scoring a runner-up finish Saturday was not only a marked improvement for the No. 76 team after a surprisingly bad 11th-place run Friday, it also came with a $20,000 paycheck that likely made the last-second decision to travel to West Virginia worth it.

Regional ace Gregg Satterlee finished in the top five both nights of the Historic 100 program, proving that his LOLMDS tour win at Port Royal earlier in the spring was no fluke.

Mike Marlar didn’t finish Friday’s feature, but scoring a top-10 finish Saturday and just showing up to race a week removed from a nasty crash during the Show-Me 100 program last weekend that injured his back was a gritty performance from a driver that’s been up front all year long when the big money is on the line.

Vexed, Villains & Victims

Hudson O’Neal’s Saturday night was the roughest night anyone at WVMS had all weekend long. Leading his heat race, O’Neal broke a rear axle and was forced to a backup car for Saturday’s feature. Starting 23rd, O’Neal was knocking on the door of the top 10 before bringing out the caution on lap 39 for a gremlin in his backup car that parked the No. 71 for the night.

Fanning the Flames

I have tried to give MAVTV the benefit of the doubt. It’s getting harder to do by the week. Yes, MAVTV did the right thing by extending the subscription of paying customers for two weeks after announcing on Friday that, for the second week in a row, the LOLMDS stream would be available to the general public online due to ongoing technical issues with the MAVTV Plus platform.

That doesn’t excuse just how glitchy Saturday’s stream was. There’s no excuse for not being prepared for a big streaming audience for a $50,000-to-win race. Hot laps and qualifying proved all but unwatchable due to a feed that kept cutting in and out. And I can’t fathom how it’s necessary for MAVTV to have to black out their screens to allow for MAVTV Plus online streaming to transition into MAVTV network broadcast.

RaceXR, DirtVision and Flo Racing all do streaming comparable to the LOLMDS every weekend with far fewer glitches and greater reliability. Lucas Oil would do well to adopt the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mantra and finding an established partner that can actually handle streaming major-league dirt racing. The LOLMDS and James Essex in the booth deserve better.

I’m throwing objectivity out the window for a second. I was thrilled to see West Virginia Motor Speedway draw 30-plus late models for both nights of the Historic 100, the largest car counts the track has drawn since it re-opened last year, as well as to see fans absolutely pack the place on Saturday night. 

Between putting big money up for purses, doing a pristine restoration of a track that had been closed for nearly a decade and doing an excellent job thinking progressively (i.e. ensuring that all events at the track are streamed live), the crew at WVMS deserve to be successful. The fact that Friday’s race also proved to be a good on-track product was just icing on the cake. This venue is cool enough to excuse some shortcomings on that front.

One shortcoming that I will side with race fans on is WVMS policy that fans cannot bring beer in with them, instead having to buy it from the track’s concession stands.

This policy isn’t a state secret. According to the WVMS website, this is an insurance requirement, and I am aware that there are other states out there actually have laws in place that prohibit fans from bringing alcohol in. Considering that Tyler County Speedway is also in West Virginia, also on the LOLMDS tour and allows fans to bring beer with them, that excuse doesn’t hold water. Feels like a cash grab.

It also wasn’t a state secret that Saturday’s “Historic 100” feature was only going to run 50 laps. But  that does beg the question that I’ve had to ask too many times since jumping on the dirt racing beat for Frontstretchwhy call a race a “100” when it’s not 100 laps long?! Calling this weekend’s race program simply The Historic would have been plenty epic and consistent with the history of WVMS.

Both James Essex and Bob Dillner made repeated references to West Virginia being “wild and wonderful.” Hearing them refer to that slogan as the MAVTV cameras zoomed out to show a giant Lion’s Den Adult Superstore billboard imposing over the track across Interstate 77 I don’t think is what the state had in mind.

Numbers Game

32 – super late models entered in Saturday’s Historic 100 feature.

$2,000 – pay to start Saturday’s Historic 100 feature.

$5,000 – bonus that went unclaimed during Saturday’s Historic 100 feature; any driver that could win the feature in a throwback paint scheme would have collected.

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 Historic 100 weekend four and a half A&W Root Beers, seeing as how the real stuff couldn’t come with me to the track. The crowd was massive, the car count and entry list were solid and the racing wasn’t the snoozer it could have been with Davenport as dominant as he was. MAVTV’s failures cost the weekend half a root beer.

Up Next: The collective eyes of the dirt racing world turn to Eldora, with the Eldora Million slated to go off Thursday night for the first time in two decades. Coverage of the biggest dirt race of 2022 can be found on Flo Racing. 

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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