Quarter Master® LOLMDS Rookie Of The Year Battle Ends Early

What was a close-fought battle to start the year between a pair of Quarter Master® Rookie of the Year candidates on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (LOLMDS) has now become a one man show starring Jonathan Davenport.

Over the past few seasons the LOLMDS has established itself as arguably the most potent touring Dirt Late Model series on the planet. One of the factors contributing to the tour's reputation is the diversity of drivers who follow the series. A strong collection of veterans chase the tour each season, and joining those veterans each year are a talented crop of rookies pursuing the Quarter Master® Rookie of the Year title.

The 2011 season saw a record field of four rookies stage a great battle for the coveted honor, and when the final checkered flag dropped on the season it was Batesville, AR, competitor Jared Landers who was crowned the Quarter Master® Rookie of the Year.

Throughout the winter months there was much debate and speculation about which drivers would chase the rookie title for the 2012 campaign. Just a matter of days before the season-opening 36th Annual Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park (Tampa, FL), the crop of rookies was unveiled. While the announced field may have only been half the size of the group in 2011, no one could deny that there was plenty of talent represented.

Blairsville, GA’s Jonathan Davenport, 28, and Austin Hubbard, 20, of Seaford, DE, each declared as candidates for the Quarter Master® Rookie of the Year award. Davenport brought a resume to the table that included multiple high-profile wins in the Super Late Model division, as well as a blistering end to the 2011 season, which saw him claim wins in many of the major end-of-the-year specials throughout the south. Hubbard had his own impressive list of accomplishments, which included the 2010 World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year title, the 2011 Appalachian Mountain Speedweek title and several feature wins. Not only did both drivers bring impressive accolades to the table, but they also brought their fan pleasing, aggressive on-the-throttle driving styles.

The exciting duo first squared off during the 36th Annual Winternationals, and by the time the opening events were in the history books it was almost a dead heat in the rookie battle. Each driver had shown glimpses of brilliance with runner-up finishes, and it appeared that another classic rookie showdown was in store.

As the LOLMDS tour entered the months of March and April, however, Hubbard began battling engine issues and mechanical woes, while Davenport enjoyed some success. By the time April drew to a close Davenport sat fifth in the overall standings, and held a commanding 200 point lead in the Quarter Master® Rookie of the Year battle over Hubbard, who had slipped to 11th in points.

As the tour entered the month of May, Davenport ran into some of his own mechanical issues, while Hubbard was able to record his season best finish on the tour of third at Hartford Motor Speedway (Hartford, MI). The next night at La Salle Speedway (La Salle, IL) he took home another top 10 and looked to possibly be building momentum. But as May drew to a close Hubbard ran into more mechanical problems and the team began gasping for air.

June stared slowly for Davenport, but it ended on a high note as he nailed down a pair of podium finishes to close the month at Cherokee Speedway (Gaffney, SC) and Wythe Raceway (Rural Retreat, VA). He continued to sit fifth in the standings, and held a 385 point advantage over Hubbard, who was enduring everything from more engine issues to hauler problems.

Two weeks later, following the LOLMDS event at Muskingum County Speedway (Zanesville, OH), Hubbard threw in the towel as he saw another engine hurt.
Hubbard issued a statement, saying, "I really have enjoyed running the Lucas Oil tour and will return to action with them on a part-time basis at some point. However, I'm done with points chasing this year. It's been a tough year, and sometimes you need to retreat from a battle and rebuild your army to win the war. The main goal at this point is to be prepared for the 2013 season. If an opportunity does not become available, I need to know that my family program is competitive."
With Hubbard pulling off the tour, Jonathan Davenport saw his sole challenger for the Quarter Master® Rookie of the Year title go by the wayside. Despite not having to worry about the competition any longer in the rookie battle, Davenport remains focused on performing well throughout remainder of the LOLMDS schedule.
"It's definitely a load off my mind to know that I have the rookie deal wrapped up, but I'm focused on winning races and getting the best possible finish in the overall tour standings,” Davenport said. “We have an awesome team here, and I want to give them the results that they deserve.”

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