Jonathan Davenport didn’t accomplish his main goal of running all the laps in his NASCAR Cup Series debut Sunday night on the Bristol dirt, but he did find the fun he was hoping to have.
Davenport, nicknamed ‘Superman’ for his incredible success in dirt late models, ran a third Kaulig Racing car at Bristol. It was not only the first time Davenport ran a stock car – the heaviest car he’s ever driven – but it was also one of the longest races he’s competed in.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” Davenport said of his NASCAR experience. “Just experienced the opportunity and enjoyed the experience.”
Unfortunately, his night ended with a 36th-place finish in the 37-car field when he was collected in the spat between Kyle Larson and Ryan Preece on lap 176. Davenport clipped Larson when he couldn’t get slowed down to avoid Larson, who had spun in Turn 1. The contact broke the suspension in the right front of his Chevrolet.
“It started out OK, and then I spun out and lost a bunch of track position; I just never did get going to where I felt like I could pass cars,” Davenport said. “I would pass two or three, and then I would just kind of get in a lull and kind of ride.
“I was just trying to learn and make the laps and wait until the racetrack got really slick, which the racetrack is awesome (right now). You can move all over it. But I could never get the right feel for my car.
“The guys did a great job and kept making changes on it that I wanted, and we were definitely getting better, but I saw Kyle spinning up there, and you always hear it’s the last car in the field that gets ‘em.
“I hate I got into him there. I don’t know what made him spin, but it ended our night early, and that was my main focus to run all 250, but it didn’t happen.”
Davenport spun by himself on lap 81 and didn’t hit anything, but the field also avoided running into him, which amazed Davenport – over the team radio, he complimented the talent of the field for doing so.
“I can’t believe they missed me because I spun right in the middle of the pack, and it was dusty and dirty, and the sun was still out a little bit at that time, I think,” Davenport said. “Everybody was heads up thanks to their spotters and thanks to them for looking way out of their windshields and not right in front of the hood pins.”
Sunday was the third year NASCAR has run a dirt race at Bristol. Davenport acknowledged while it’s not a true dirt race, it is different, cool, and a novelty. However, it was an adjustment from what he’s used to without a big cushion to use to a driver’s advantage, instead saying it felt more like a really slick asphalt track.
But Davenport “had a lot of fun and would definitely like to do it again.”
And that doesn’t mean at Bristol. While Davenport said he is not looking or expecting anything more past his run with Kaulig Racing, he would come back to NASCAR again for whatever race he could sign up for.
“Absolutely,” Davenport said.