ROSSBURG, Ohio — Chris Ferguson and Jonathan Davenport have a leg up on their competition entering Thursday’s Eldora Million.
The two Southeastern drivers took advantage of up-front starting spots to split the two 25-lap preliminary features paying $12,000-to-win on Thursday afternoon.
Along with the check, each driver also gained momentum for Thursday’s 101-lap Eldora Million—the richest race in dirt late model history.
For years, Chris Ferguson has put together strong runs at Eldora. However, a trip to the track’s iconic victory lane had eluded the Mount Holly, NC, driver.
Ferguson finally scored his first win at “The Big E,” leading every lap in the first of two 25-lap features. He stated how important it is to be on the Eldora stage.
“This is that moment, you know, this is where the biggest track in the world is,” Ferguson said. “We might not be the best every week, but right now, we’re standing up here, and I just can’t believe it.”
While Ferguson led every lap, he still dealt with traffic and struggled with the handling of his Team Zero Race car toward the end of the run.
“I could tell I had a little bit of a lead,” Ferguson said. “So, when I got in lapped traffic, I struggled a little bit, but we were just a little free in dirty air.”
Chris Madden crossed the line second, a position he held throughout the event.
“We had a great race car,” Madden said. “We didn’t do what I thought we needed to do. I told my guys I said, well, let’s go over here and see where we’re at, but we missed our balance a little bit.”
Mike Marlar, the leading point scorer Thursday afternoon, finished third. Marlar was happy with his car after his podium run, setting fast time, and winning his heat race.
“We definitely had a good car so far today, and I might be leading the points, which guarantees a spot in the Million, and that’s a good deal to do,” Marlar said.
Devin Moran finished fourth and Shannon Babb rounded out the top five.
Davenport is no stranger to Eldora’s iconic stage and welcomes scoring momentum a $12,000 preliminary victory.
The Blairsville, Ga., driver rolled around Gregg Satterlee on a lap-eight restart and paced the field for the rest of the feature.
However, “Superman” stated he wasn’t in the lane he would’ve decided if he was leading.
“I got a good restart there with Satterlee,” Davenport said. “He picked the right lane; I would’ve picked the bottom too. I just rolled into it a little bit, just kept enough speed with him, and as he was picking up the pace, I was too.”
Ricky Thornton Jr. finished second after starting fifth in the 25-lap feature.
“I about killed our weekend there in qualifying,” Thornton said. “I got to give a big shoutout to my crew; they had to get [the car] back together for the heat race.
“JD had a really good car, there’s just a little bit we need to work with, but we should be good for later.”
Bobby Pierce crossed the third line, followed by Brandon Sheppard and Jason Feger.
No invert will occur for Thursday Night’s Eldora Million Heat Races after Marlar spun a zero on the Wheel of Misfortune.
Group A Feature (25 Laps): 1. Chris Ferguson, 2. Chris Madden, 3. Mike Marlar, 4. Devin Moran, 5. Shannon Babb, 6. Kyle Bronson, 7. Mason Zeigler, 8. Shane Clanton, 9. Dennis Erb Jr., 10. Daulton Wilson, 11. Ricky Weiss, 12. Tyler Erb, 13. Ashton Winger, 14. Mark Whitener, 15. Kenny Collins, 16. Cade Dillard, 17. Frank Heckenast Jr., 18. Colton Flinner, 19. Jeep Van Wormer, 20. Wil Herrington, 21. Boom Briggs, 22. Jake Timm, 23. Billy Moyer, 24. Ross Robinson
Group B Feature (25 Laps): 1. Jonathan Davenport, 2. Ricky Thornton Jr., 3. Bobby Pierce, 4. Brandon Sheppard, 5. Jason Feger, 6. Hudson O’Neal, 7. Tim McCreadie, 8. Darrell Lanigan, 9. Kyle Strickler, 10. Josh Rice, 11. Nick Hoffman, 12. Earl Pearson Jr., 13. Brandon Overton, 14. Jimmy Owens, 15. Tyler Bruening, 16. Johnny Scott, 17. Chase Junghans, 18 Brian Shirley, 19. Gregg Satterlee, 20. Carson Ferguson, 21. Spencer Hughes, 22. Dustin Linville, 23. Trent Ivey, 24. Ryan Gustin