Ernie Strouse Grabs INEX Legend Victory in Tight Finish at Southside Speedway

Ernie Strouse celebrates in victory lane after capping off a strong win at Southside Speedway’s season opener. (Justin Kern/

Midlothian, VA – It was one of the closer Legends races we have witnessed in the short time we have been attending races at Southside Speedway that saw a rookie start the race on the pole and first-time winner. Chris Lilly, sporting an exciting pink/purple paint scheme set the fast time in the division’s final practice with a 15.378 (78.026 mph) second lap – just .077 seconds faster than Tommy Jackson, Jr. However, due to the invert, Cody Carlton started the race from the fourth qualifying position.

Strouse, who started to Carlton’s outside was able to power to the lead on the top side and lead the first lap of the 25-lap feature. Ten cars took the green flag for the last race of the season opener after nine cars took time in qualifying. The #51 of Ryan Matthews broke a drive train before qualifying even started and was not able to record a lap.

In a relatively calm race, it was a four car freight train at the front with Strouse leading Chris Lilly, Cody Carlton, and Jackson, Jr. You could throw a blanket over the four that’s just how close they were running. That was until bad luck once again found Tommy Jackson, Jr for the second weekend in a row. It almost looked like Chris Lilly checked up out of four hard which caused Carlton to do the same and it was just too late for Jackson to react and ended up making contact with Carlton’s left rear. Jackson would need assistance from the roll back to remove his car from the track and end his night.

When the track went back green Strouse was able to power back to the lead and hold off Lilly and Carlton for the win. Chris Lilly, who actually posted the fastest lap in the race would finish just behind the #4 in second. Cody Carlton in just his second Legend race would finish third. Kevin Yeatts and Brandon Johnston rounded out the top five.



Franklin Caricofe victorious for the second weekend in a row racing at Virginia tracks. (Justin Kern/

10 Bandolero drivers made the trip to Southside Speedway Friday night for the 58th season opener at the 1/3-mile short track. Conner Jones was the fastest qualifier earlier in the afternoon during “practifying” – Southside’s version of group qualifying – with a 17.023 second (70.486 mph). Jones drew the number five pill during post-qualifying tech inspection inverting the entire top five cars on the grid.

Cole Bruce, who won last week’s season opener at Langley Speedway, inherited the lead from the invert. Franklin Caricofe, the only driver in the top five to start where he qualified would take the lead from Bruce on lap one and immediately open up a large lead. The field was only slowed once when two cars went around in turn two. Eddie Slagle went around after a little contact, from our vantage point we could not see who the contact was with but, Harrison looked to spin out as well, possibly to avoid contact. Both Slagle and Harrison able to drive away.

Caricofe jumped back out to the lead when the green flag was displayed and never looked back. Jacob Putman held down the second position most of the race while the battle was on for third. Conner Jones, who started on the pole after the redraw was able to reel in and pass Bruce as the laps counted down. A bit of a scare for the leaders coming to the white flag, Caricofe and Putman split the two slower cars, effectively ending Putman’s run to the top spot and winning for the second weekend in a row.


Legends Official Results:

1.#4 Ernie Strouse; 25
2. #27P Chris Lilly; 25
3. #94 Cody Carlton; 25
4. #27 Kevin Yeatts; 25
5. #76 Brandon Johnston; 25
6. #51 Ryan Matthews; 25
7. #79 David Tuner; 25
8. #44 Barry Kramer; 25
9. #00 DJ Elzey; 25
10. #87 Tommy Jackson, Jr.; 12


Bando Official Results:

1.#33 Franklin Caricofe
2. #3 Jacob Putman
3. #14 Conner Jones
4. #31 Cole Bruce
5. #6 Jake Waltman
6. #58 Eddie Slagle
7. #43 Layton Harris
8. #48 Wesley Newell
9. #15 Logan Clark
10. #87 Kenton Case

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