ROSSBURG, Ohio — official release — Mike Ruefer photo — Jonathan Davenport and Matt Miller added their names to the list of likely contenders for Eldora Speedway’s coveted World 100 globed trophy by claiming $5,000 victories Friday evening during the second night of preliminary action for the 44th annual World 100.
With the event’s 120-car field split in half by time-trial results, Davenport led every lap of the first of two Twin 25-lap DIRTcar UMP-sanctioned A-Mains to claim his first career Eldora Speedway victory. Miller, who won Eldora’s Dirt Late Model Dream in 2005, took the lead on lap 13 of the second A-Main and led the remaining distance to add another accomplishment to his stellar Eldora Speedway resume.
Davenport and Miller will both attempt to parlay their impressive preliminary performances into a crown jewel triumph when Eldora host the $47,000-to-win World 100 finale on Saturday.
Both drivers were tested in claiming their Friday night victories. After advancing from third to first on the opening lap of the feature for odd-numbered qualifiers, Davenport withstood a mid-race challenge from Eldora veteran Scott Bloomquist amid traffic, and later pulled away after a late-race restart.
The victory was a welcomed breakthrough for Davenport, who has been plagued by poor luck in his recent trips to Eldora.
“This is definitely big. Even though it’s against half the field, we held off one of the fastest guys here all weekend,” said Davenport, who drives the AES Racing Longhorn Chassis for car owners Kevin and Lee Roy Rumley. “It was good for us to get this win and finally get the monkey off our back we’ve had for so long here at these big races.”
Bloomquist, a three-time World 100 winner, settled for second with fellow former World 100 winners Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, and Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., taking third and fourth respectively. Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., was fifth.
In claiming the main event for even-numbered qualifiers, Miller had to outduel retiring driver and cancer survivor Randy Korte of Highland, Ill., who was gunning for an emotional victory in his final visit to the historic half-mile oval. The two front-row starters put on a thrilling performance with Miller holding off a resurgent Korte in the closing laps.
“My buddy Randy there, I know it’s his last time and I hate to take it from him,” said Miller, who drives a Rick Delong-owned Rocket Chassis. “But it’s a race and we need it as bad as he does.”
Tim McCreadie ran just behind Miller and Korte for most of the race in finishing third, while R.J. Conley and Darrell Lanigan rounded out the top five.
With Saturday night’s six 15-lap Dream heat races aligned by each driver’s best lap time from the two rounds of qualifying, Jeff Babcock’s fast time on Friday earned him overall fast time honors for the World 100 weekend. Babcock and second-fast qualifier Brandon Overton earned guaranteed starting spots in Saturday’s World 100 A-Main thanks to the two provisionals that go to the two fastest qualifiers who fail to make the A-Main through a heat race or last chance race.