Jonathan Davenport is very good when he is working within his comfort zone of a Dirt Late Model cockpit.
Kyle Busch is very good when he is working within his comfort zone of a NASCAR cockpit.
However, both of those highly accomplished racers are about to step outside their respective comfort zones when they participate in a much less familiar form of competition in the very near future.
The 39-year-old Davenport will compete in the NASCAR Cup Series-sanctioned Food City Dirt Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway on April 9th driving a third Chevrolet entry for Kaulig Racing as a teammate to A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Haley. Three days prior to that, the 37-year-old Busch will take on many of the top Dirt Late Model stars in the Kyle Larson Late Model Challenge at the Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tennessee wheeling a Longhorn Chassis prepared by Wells Motorsports as a teammate to Brandon Overton.
The similarities between the two are striking.
Both of these highly accomplished drivers are champions, and oddly enough, their trophy-earning years almost match identically. Davenport is a three-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion having collected crowns in 2015, 2018 and 2019. Busch was the NASCAR Cup Series titlist in 2015 and 2019 while also earning a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in 2009.
Along with those championships, both racers have shown the ability to pile up huge numbers of victories. In just the last five years, Davenport has scored 86 feature wins. Over the course of his career, the Blairsville, Georgia ace has collected some of Dirt Late Model racing’s most coveted trophies including the Eldora Million in 2022, the Dirt Late Model Dream(2015), the World 100(2015, 2017, 2019, 2021, 2022), the North-South 100(2015 & 2022), and the Knoxville Late Model Nationals(2022).
No driver in NASCAR history has amassed wins across all divisions in the same way Kyle Busch has with 61 triumphs at the Cup Series level, 102 Xfinity Series checkered flags, and 63 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series wins. And like Davenport, this is a driver who can find his way to victory lane in the major races. The Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway(2018), the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway(2008), the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway(2015 & 2016), and the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway(2009, 2010 & 2017) have all fallen to the Las Vegas native.
Busch does also have a dirt race victory taking the 2011 Prelude to the Dream at the Eldora Speedway.
To predict that either of these two drivers who are among the best in history at what they do on a regular basis will run up front in their respective races would probably be a stretch. But any fan of racing has to respect the fact that both are willing to step outside their comfort zones to try something new. Such attempts by stars from one form of motorsports to an unfamiliar one is becoming more commonplace as we have seen Formula 1 drivers in NASCAR recently and regularly see NASCAR racers on the dirt at places such as North Carolina’s Millbridge Speedway.
Jonathan Davenport and Kyle Busch are doing their part to show that drivers can not only show versatility but might even have some fun and success in doing so.
Fans recently responded to a Twitter poll:
Who will have the better finish?
— Richard Allen/InsideDirtRacing.com (@RichardAllenIDR) March 27, 2023
Richard Allen has been covering NASCAR and other forms of motorsports since 2008.
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