Chris Dodson Dominates the J. M. Wilkinson Memorial at Southside Speedway
Midlothian, VA – Southside Speedway opened its gates Friday, April 1st for its 57th year of racing. Full night of racing on the docket as the Late Model Stocks moved from 30-laps to 40-laps. A packed pits and packed stands made for a great night under the lights as the rain held off.
Dodson, who has dominated the Late Models at Southside for years, was in the same form tonight. Qualifying on the outside pole earlier in the afternoon had lady luck on his side with the re-draw. With Greg Fernandez pacing the field and winning the pole, Fernandez pulled a number three, pushing him back one row and allowing Dodson to stay where he was at on the grid.
With only 40-laps to get the job done you don’t have much time to waste. Two by two the field dove down into turn one. Chris Dodson, who has plenty of laps around the tight little bullring that is Southside Speedway, made the high side work to his advantage edging out Zuskin, who was not making easy for Dodson, for the top spot before taking sole possession of the lead by lap five.
Dodson, flexing his muscle early wasted no time putting cars a lap down. What happens when you get the faster guys around some of the slower guys? Cautions. Now to me it looked like the #11 of Woody Ellington went around on his own in turns one and two, however, a few people up in the tower suggested that Zuskin made a little contact as we was passing him. Either way, Zuskin would run into issue of his own, spinning right after on the exit of turn two with a flat left rear tire. He would hit pit road and restart at the tail end of the field.
Things would get pretty exciting through out the entire field on the ensuing restart. Zuskin was a man on a mission climbing back up through the field, all the while the #18 of Brad Davis and the #99 of Daniel Thomas put on one heck of a show for the crowd battling for both fourth and third spots respectively. Thomas’ night would come to an unfortunate halt after a late race caution – not of his doing – caused the cars to slow down on the front stretch. Cannot speak 100% of what happened but the car stalled. Crews ran out on the track (which by the way I do not support AT ALL) to push start his ride. Race control sent Thomas to the back. An unfortunate turn of events but as I picked up in the tower because he came to a stop under the yellow and needed a push, that was the reason for being sent to the rear.
Just a little side note if I may, that I am sure the track will address before the next race, in no circumstance should a crew member, or different crew members jump over the front stretch wall to push start a car on the racing surface! Seriously guys, this is what we have tow trucks with push bumpers for! Let race control dispatch the proper equipment for the situation at hand. They are the ones with the eyes in the sky and can see when it is safe for people to move around the track. Just my little two cents to our fellow drivers and crews.
That would move Zuskin up to the fourth spot, with the option to still take the cone, which he would eventually do. Wouldn’t matter much though because Dodson was in a league of his own tonight. Green flag in the air for the final time and boy did these drivers go to war. Greg Fernandez and Brad Davis practically glued to the door the final few laps come across the stripe beating and banging like good ole short track racing should be. Dodson would pick up the win, the tower would call Davis, Fernandez, Zuskin, and Greathouse your top five.
After further video review, at the completion of the final feature of the night, Chris Steffi & Gary Fox have changed the official finishing order of the Late Model Stocks. “We went with what we had on the video camera,” Steffi said at the conclusion of night. “Which is great because we don’t have that all the time. The 02 clearly had him by the nose so we made the change.”
We caught up with Dodson after the race who had no doubt he had the fastest car of the evening after winning yet another J. M. Wilkinson Memorial feature at Soutside Speedway. “I over drove the car a little bit in the corner in qualifying,” Dodson said. “We had the fastest car today. Its [the car] just been good over here. Which it should be. Its great equipment. [We] ran hard and we are tickled to death to win. Its always good to start the season off with a win.
Dodson had his sponsors Williamsburg Honda & Hyundai, Tire-X, and AR Bodies and all of his crew for getting him into victory lane. Dodson will look to take the momentum up the road next weekend in the NASCAR Whelen All-American opener at the brand new Dominion Speedway.
P1. #0 Chris Dodson; 40
P2. #02 Greg Fernandez; 40
P3. #18 Brad Davis; 40
P4. #71 Steve Zuskin; 40
P5. #77 Mike Greathouse
P6. #29 Andrew Dean; 40
P7. #42 Mike Payne; 40
P8. #22 Grayson Cullather; 40
P9. #99 Daniel Thomas; 40
P10. #45 Tyler Daniels; 40
P11. #41 Doug Mundy; 39
P12. #67 Cole Walker; 39
P13. #89 Irving Cook; 37
P14. #11 Woody Ellington; 36
P15. #51 Jason Pittman; 27