Steve Zuskin Inherits Pole and Holds Off Eddie Johnson for a Thrilling Win

IMG_8903Midlothian, VA – An impressive field of Late Models made the trip to Southside Speedway Friday night for First Responders Night at the track. Honoring all those who serve the community with parade laps showing off all of their vehicles and making themselves available to the public for questions. The sun was out in full blast Friday afternoon as Virginia begins to enter its hottest months of the year, no doubt giving teams and drivers a fit trying to get the car hooked up on a slick racing surface.

Veteran Late Model racer and multiple track champion, Eddie Johnson, sure did get things figured out during their “practifying” session – a unique time saving technique used by the track to allow teams three rounds of practice as well as time laps. Johnson clocked in a time of 14.935 (80.340 MPH) to win the pole, Chris Dodson, Steve Zuskin, Andrew Dean and Greg Fernandez would complete the starting five.

Zuskin, however, would benefit the most from another long-standing rule at Southside – The Pill Draw. After Johnson pulled a three from the bag he and Zuskin would swap places on the starting grid. Though it took a little bit of time to get the race going –after multiple extended caution periods for a few spinouts, and one driver calling it quits in just two laps because he didn’t like the fact the electronic scoring system scored him one position back on the previous completed lap – there was actually some good racing throughout the entire pack.

REPLAY: Steve Zuskin Holds off Eddie Johnson in 40-lap feature

Zuskin, Johnson, Dodson spent the majority of the race separated by just two car lengths or less. It seemed as though Johnson’s car was just a little bit better those first couple of laps after a restart, and trust me when I say we had plenty of them, but Zuskin’s car was on rails all night long on the bottom. Dodson, who has been so dominate of late at Southside just seemed to be content riding in that third spot after Eddie Johnson worked his way around him.

The three-way battle for the lead was not the only action on the track to pay attention too. Brad Davis (#18) and Greg Fernandez (#02) spent a good amount of laps door to door fighting for the fifth spot. Cole Walker would eventually bring out another caution when he went for a spin in turn four, clean up crews were dispatched to turn four to remove what looked like a nose piece off of Walker.

On the ensuing restart the top three took off like they normally do setting up some good racing from fifth back. Both Grayson Cullather (#22) and Daniel Thomas (#99) were working their way back through the field when contact was made off four sending Thomas around and ultimately into the inside wall – Thomas’ crew were able to get the car back together and back on the track. Thomas’ crew and Cullather’s crew would exchange some words on pit road just before the halfway break.

Zuskin would spend the next twenty laps on the top groove working to hold off Eddie Johnson to his inside. The two would battle fender-to-fender and door-to-door as the laps closed in. The final nail in the coffin for Johnson was when the two caught the tail end of the field to put cars a lap down.

“I tell you what that was some exciting racing,” Zuskin said in victory lane Friday night. “He [Eddie Johnson] is one of the best there is out here, there is a whole lot of them here but it is an honor to be racing with that man. He gave me a little bumper there but that’s what Friday night short track racing at Southside Speedway is about.”

 

OFFICIAL Late Model Results:

1.#71 Steve Zuskin; 40
2. #43 Eddie Johnson; 40
3. #0 Chris Dodson; 40
4. #02 Greg Fernandez; 40
5. #18 Brad Davis; 40
6. #4 Chris Sylvester; 40
7. #50 Raymond Pittman III; 40
8. #42 Mike Payne; 40
9. #17 Charlie Walker; 40
10. #22 Grayson Cullather; 40
11. #11 Woody Ellington; 39
12. #21 David Stevens; 39
13. #55 Howie DiSavino; 38
14. #89 Irving Cook; 38
15. #41 Doug Mundy; 35
16. #99 Daniel Thomas; 28
17. #29 Andrew Dean; 13
18. #67 Cole Walker; 13
19. #04 Bugs Hairfield; 2

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