Mason Bailey Earns Third Victory of 2017 at Southside Speedway in a Thrilling Late Model Finish
Midlothian, VA – The month of July & August are statistically the hottest months of the summer in the Mid-Atlantic. When it’s hot outside there is one thing you can all but guarantee around the world of short track racing and that is a slick race track and short tempers. Throw in an interesting race or two where certain drivers feel they owe something to someone and just sit back and enjoy the show.
Chris Dodson was once again the fastest qualifier in the afternoon’s very hot final practice/qualifying session. Dodson’s lap of record was set in just his fourth circuit around the flat track coming in at 15.059 (79.679 MPH) seconds. Eddie Johnson would post a lap just six-hundredths of a second slower than Dodson. Rookie Mason Bailey and Lane Janosik posted the third and fourth fastest times while Bugs Hairfield rounded out the fastest five. Dodson would pull a number four pill, handing the front row over to the two rookies.
Sixteen Late Models came to life down the front stretch when flagman Jody Adkins unfurled the green flag. Mason Bailey wasted zero time working his way around Janosik as the field rocketed out of turn two and down the backstretch. Fast qualifier, Chris Dodson, had the same idea and got around Janosik using the outside groove. The race saw its first of five cautions early on lap two after Janosik and Eddie Johnson appeared to get hooked together going into the turn. It would cause a six car pile up as Brock, Thomas, Payne, and Hairfield were all caught up in the mess.
Once the race was back under green flag conditions, Dodson picked back up on his assault on the rear bumper of Bailey. The rookie did an amazing job hold off the onslaught that Dodson was putting on. The lead would eventually change hands after the third restart of the evening. Dodson appeared to get back to the throttle just a little bit quicker than Bailey, which allowed him to stay even with the 05 machine. A small slip from Bailey the following lap in two allowed Dodson to grab the lead.
Dodson would lead the way for several laps while some amazing racing between Bugs Hairfield – who was making his way back through the field before ending his night on lap 36 – Howie Disavino, Chris Johnson, and Grayson Cullather. Just as things looked to be in the bag for Chris Dodson, who was lifting at the start finish and holding onto a two-second lead, the yellow flag was displayed for the fourth final time. Michael Sutphin was around down the backstretch.
This set up one of the most exciting finishes of the year when Chris Dodson elected to keep his position at the front of the field. Bug Hairfield decided to try his luck on the outside line while Mason Bailey lined up on the inside behind Dodson. The three would eventually end up three wide all the way down the back and into turn three. Bailey down low, Dodson in the middle and Hairfield up top. The trio almost made it all the way through the corner like that but, Dodson ended up going around in turn four and would bring out the evenings final caution. There was some talk that Chris Johnson would be sent to the rear of the field after contact was made with Dodson’s car while he was sideways. Johnson, after some deliberation between officials in the tower and on the track, was able to keep his position on the track.
For the restart, it was Mason Bailey and Chris Johnson on the first row. When the green flag was displayed Bailey was able to clear Johnson and retake the lead with less than two laps to go. Grayson Cullather, who qualified seventh and stayed pretty quiet in the top five all night, was also able to get around Johnson to take the second position. Though the top three cars were figured out at the white flag there was some hard racing behind them which caused a big pile up back in turn one once again. Sonny Allen, who has been running up towards the front all night made hard contact with the outside wall all but destroying his car. The driver was able to hop out under his own power once the race was complete.
“I think thrilling is the word for both the fans and the drivers,” Bailey said after the race. “We struggled all day with the car in practice. We are usually first or second and we stayed around fourth or fifth all day, that’s just not good for us. After getting taken out last week we had to completely disassemble this car and put it back from scratch. It’s amazing we got it back as close as we did but still has a lot of kinks to work out. It certainly had some speed it but it was hard work on that wheel.”
We asked Mason about the three wide run there into three that ultimately got him the lead and the race win and what was going through his mind
“I know we only had two wins on the season and we really needed to be at three wins,” explained Bailey. “I knew we needed to park it so that’s what we did. Just got a good restart and stayed on him [Dodson]. The three of us and I think they just got together, Chris slid up and Bugs got down and got together, I saw some daylight and went for. I’m not much of a steering wheel holder, I like to call myself a driver, so I just went in there for better or for worse and it just happened to work out. That was all luck there, that’s all that was.”
“I am just glad we came out on top. This team, my car owner Chris Phillips, CR Phillips Electrical, Commonwealth Plumbing, Damn Yankee Hot Sauce, Hernandez Construction, and so much more, they just deserve this.”
Austin Dodge was the winner of the 30 lap Grand Stock feature early in the evening. Dodge was the fast qualifier earlier in the afternoon but was forced to start fifth when the green flag was displayed due to the invert. Shannon Smith inherited the lead and did a fine job holding off the field till about lap ten and eventually retiring from the race with mechanical issues. That is how long it took for Dodge to make his way back up through the field. The race witnessed only two cautions and three different leaders. However, one Dodge was able to take the lead around lap nine, even the late race restart could not trip him up, Austin Dodge would take home the hardware.
Late Model OFFICIAL Results;
- #05 Mason Bailey; 40
- #22 Grayson Cullather; 40
- #24 Chris Johnson; 40
- #18 Brad Davis; 40
- #20 Sonny Allen; 40
- #55 Howie Disavino; 40
- #43 Eddie Johnson; 40
- #9 Alex Brock; 40
- #25 Michael Sutphin; 40
- #0 Chris Dodson; 40
- #26 John Crews; 40
- #79 Lane Janosik; 40
- #04 Bugs Hairfield; 36
- #99 Daniel Thomas; 25
- #19 Rusty Wood; 15
- #42 Mike Payne; 2
Grand Stock OFFICIAL Results;
- #07 Austin Dodge
- #40 Todd Ruggles
- #33 Dan Rogers
- #41 Cameron Ruggles
- #88 Mike Lowe
- #39 Tony Hull
- #36 Mark Simpson
- #21 Shannon Smith