Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Dirty: 2022 Fever Heat 100 at Stuart International

The Headline(s)

Jonathan Davenport and team guessed right in setup, leading all 50 laps on a heavily-farmed Stuart International Speedway surface to win the opening night of the Fever Heat 100.

How it Happened

2022 Fever Heat 100 (XR Super Series)
Where: Stuart International Speedway – Stuart, Iowa (streamed on RaceXR)
Winner’s Purse: $20,000

After uncharacteristic struggles Saturday night in the Gopher 50 feature at Deer Creek Raceway, Jonathan Davenport wasted no time returning to form on the black dirt of the Midwest. Leading all 50 laps from the pole Monday night (July 11), Davenport was never challenged in scoring a $20,000 victory. 

Davenport and crew threw what the driver called a neutral setup at their car because the track crew at Stuart opted to completely farm the track between the stock car and late model features, tilling and watering the entire racing surface. The decision was criticized (subtly) by Davenport and explicitly by runner-up Tim McCreadie during post-race interviews.

2022 FEVER HEAT 100 RACE RESULTS

There will be no change atop the XR Super Series points standings, as current leader Chris Madden finished sixth. The biggest mover in points was a backwards move for Chris Ferguson, who despite sitting third in the tour standings did not make the trip to Stuart.

Success Stories

Not only did Davenport dominate the entire evening in Stuart, winning quick time, his heat race and leading all 50 laps of the Fever Heat 100 feature, he was leading a charmed life as well. Davenport didn’t slow a bit despite slapping the wall under a lap 17 yellow flag after Daulton Wilson pounded the fence in front of him, leaving the No. 49 with no room to evade.

If there was any driver in the field hard done by how long it took the track to come in, it’d likely be Ryan Gustin’s No. 19 car. Gustin absolutely tore through the field up to third in the closing laps on the far high side of the track and was a handful of laps away from factoring in for the win.

Bobby Pierce, who’s running away with what will likely be another DIRTcar Summer Nationals championship, made a nine-hour detour from that circuit to race at Stuart Monday, and earned $4,000 for an eighth-place finish. Considering he’s spent the last month running midweek races for $5,000 to win, that’s got to be considered a success.

Vexed, Villains & Victims

Chris Ferguson and team did not show up at Stuart, marking his first missed XR Super Series race of the season despite being the first driver whose season schedule had tentatively committed to the fledgling tour. 

Brandon Overton won the Gopher 50 Saturday night, then missed the opener of the Fever Heat 100 on Monday by one spot in the second B-main. The dangerous freedom of running an outlaw schedule.

Jeff Massingill had an awful eventful night before finishing eighth in his B-main, breaking a left-rear wheel during qualifying that caused the tire to essentially fold over, then having to spin himself out to avoid Johnny Scott’s turned machine in his heat race.

On that note, the backstretch camera angle was inconclusive, but it sure looked like Brent Larson ran all over Johnny Scott in the second late model heat. 

Yes, Audubon, Iowa’s Colby Christensen managing to land his hobby stock during the second heat was a success story. That he clipped a tractor tire, went airborne and had to land said hobby stuck before trying to drive it up the backstretch berm means it didn’t land in the “Success Stories” section.

Fanning the Flames

I’m over the moon that a strong car count showed up for arguably the biggest race Stuart International Speedway has hosted in recent memory. This track is a hidden gem in the dirt racing world and seeing the big names show up to race it was a welcome sight.

The field was a pleasant surprise. And I will admit I was further surprised to see just how dominant the big names that have rocked half-miles all year long proved on the Stuart bullring, a track that none of the other major touring series frequents. The closest thing to a “local” driver finishing at the front was Chad Simpson in fifth, while the track’s all-time wins leader in Todd Cooney missed the feature after riding the wall briefly during the second B-main.

Said big names were plenty vocal in what was a questionable decision to completely rework the track surface prior to the Fever Heat 100 late model feature, and they were not alone in their concerns.

Modified ace Nick Hoffman (who was not racing at Stuart on Monday) had a Twitter feed going that’s worth reading about track prep on the night. Whether the surface that got reworked after the stock car feature would have held up under 50 laps of late models pounding on it is a fair question, but it’s now an undisputed fact that a completely reworked track rendered the front half of the feature a hammer-down affair. And no, that’s not a good thing.

I have no problem with streamers trying new things, but having a camera facing from turn 4 down the frontstretch of a quarter mile adds absolutely nothing to the viewer experience. Let’s skip this angle moving forward. And if RaceXR is going to make use of in-car cameras, can we please have it done in a split-screen manner with the actual race telecast? In-car is cool but does very little to aid a viewer in seeing the big picture.

It was absolutely the right call to run six late model heats instead of four on a track this size.

The RaceXR booth on more than one occasion said the stock car race we’d see Monday night would be the best we’d ever seen until Tuesday. That didn’t happen. Iowa is the home of the Murtys, famous for their dominance at the Bristol Dirt Track, as well as Marshalltown Speedway’s vaunted weekly stock car class, but Monday’s feature at Stuart was yellow fever in a cornfield. 

I didn’t see any exchange that led up to this tweet, so maybe it’s just ironic that this came up on a night RaceXR had the top streaming program in dirt racing.

First, I completely agree with this rant. Second, the irony here is that RaceXR, at $34.99 a month, is even more expensive than the two services being referenced (Flo Racing and DirtVision). And the objective reality is that money doesn’t go as far with XR as with the other two services; Flo Racing has a much larger quantity and diversity of racing while DirtVision’s production values put both Flo and XR to shame. 

Having said that, it’s been widely speculated that XR’s pricing stems from a business model that’s relying on streaming subscriptions more than at-track ticket sales to pay the large purses that have defined the XR Super Series to this point. Tim McCreadie (or his Twitter feed at least) certainly picked up on just how much the XR Super Series has helped moved the needle on late model racing.

Racing is speed. And speed is a question of money. How fast do you want to go?

Numbers Game

3 – yellow flags that slowed Monday’s Fever Heat 100 feature.

42 – super late models entered for Monday’s Fever Heat 100 opener.

100 – the sum of feature laps scheduled for Monday night’s Fever Heat 100 (50 super late model, 30 stock car, 20 hobby stock). 

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 opening night of the Fever Heat 100 three and a half Jeb Stuart Stouts from my local Corcoran Brewing Company. It’s a pleasure to have big-name, big-money late model racing on a Monday, but this was not the instant classic debut that the Stuart International Speedway is capable of hosting, both in the late model and stock car ranks.

Up Next: All eyes turn to the sprint car world this week, with the Historical Big One going off Thursday and the King’s Royal Saturday, both offering six-figure paydays for 410 sprint car racers at Eldora Speedway. Coverage can be found on DirtVision. And for those looking for another midweek fix, RaceXR will be streaming night two of the Fever Heat 100 from Stuart Tuesday night (July 12).

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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