Chris Dodson Wins Rain Shortened Late Model Race in Southside Season Opener

Dodson rolls through turns three and four during practice in 2017 at Southside Speedway. (Justin Kern/The Weekly Racer)

Midlothian, VA – Chris Dodson continued his dominance at the 1/3-mile flat track that he has shown in the past. Dodson not only set the fastest time in “practifying” – Southside’s version of group qualifying – with a time 14.589 (82.171 MPH) but would also dominate the rain-shortened feature after pulling a one during the redraw to claim his 7th JM Wilkinson Memorial opening night Late Model win in a row.

The Late Models lived up to their pre-season hype with guys using their bumpers on lap two. Third place qualifier, Bugs Hairfield, and outside pole sitter Daniel Thomas was the first to tango. This would result in Thomas going around in the center of turns one and two. Both drivers would have to mount a charge through the very competitive field in a short amount of time.

Once the green flag was displayed to the field it only took until turn three for the caution flag to be displayed to the field yet again with just two laps on the board. The yellow and contact with rookie John Goin in turns three and four would halt his charge back to the front.

The field would settle down for a solid twenty-four-lap green flag run before contact between Mason Bailey (No. 05) and Brad Davis (No. 18) would cause an accordion effect which resulted in Michael Sutphin going around, in turn, four bringing out the nights the third caution for the late models.

Only one lap would be run before Layne Janosik’s (No. 79) would get loose off of turn two and go sliding into the backstretch boilerplate wall. He would then climb the wall for a brief moment which then shot the car left across the racetrack turning Daniel Thomas’ already bad night, worse. Both cars were too damaged to continue.

The next restart came at lap twenty-seven and again the caution would immediately follow the green as Eddie Johnson looped his number 43 machine as he entered turn three. The field would get a handful of laps in before Johnson, who was on his way back through the field, would get into the rear of Michael Sutphin’s Chevy as they entered the corner resulting in a spin and another yellow flag working lap number thirty-two.

Photo Jennifer Allen – Sara Kay Speed Shots

While Mother Nature was preparing to put the proverbial fork in the night, the cone restart resulted in an intense battle between Brad Davis and fast qualifier Chris Dodson until contact on lap thirty-five between Michael Sutphin and rookie Justin Martz as they crossed the stripe. Martz’s would climb the right rear of Sutphin and both cars, still entangled, would spin entering turn one. The body of Sutphin’s machine partially removed, including the roof and greenhouse bowed up in the air, resulting Martz’s rear end parked atop the turn one wall.

As the track safety crew carefully removed Martz from the turn one wall, that is when the bottom dropped out. The weather system had entered the area and was there to stay. This would force officials to end the evening early as the racing surface was lost. With thirty-five of the forty laps completed, the Late Model feature would be deemed official and Chris Dodson picked up the win over Brad Davis, Chris Johnson, Howie DiSavino, and Mason Bailey.

Ethan Ayers set quick time earlier in the afternoon during practifying with a lap time of 16.767. Ryan Paul, Cameron Ruggles, Joshua Thomas and Beejay Anderson were the remaining quick qualifiers for the 25-lap feature. However, these drivers were not able to take the green flag for their season-opening race. The speedway will make an announcement at a later date if or when this race could be rescheduled.

Special thank to Buck Reuss and Erika Gay for providing information for this release.

Late Model Official Results

  1. #0 Chris Dodson; 35
  2. #18 Brad Davis; 35
  3. #24 Chris Johnson
  4. #55 Howie DiSavino; 35
  5. #05 Mason Bailey; 35
  6. #20 Sonny Allen; 35
  7. #19 Kyle Wood; 35
  8. #25 Michael Sutphin; 35
  9. #22 Justin Martz; 35
  10. #43 Eddie Johnson; 35
  11. #90 John Goin; 35
  12. #79 Lane Janosik; 27
  13. #99 Daniel Thomas; 27
  14. #04 Bugs Hairfield; 26

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