Elizabeth City, NC – Jerald Harris muscled his way around the 3/8-mile dirt oval on Friday by leading the most circuits in the 25-lap event, en route to the victory. Harris, of Dayton, Virginia, became the fourth different winner of the Virginia Sprint Series in as many races in the 2019 season.
“I’ve got to thank French Grimes. He walked me around here and showed me where no one else would run,” said Harris in victory lane following the event. “He said it’s big rewards, but big risks. He helped me set the car up high, which has a lot of grip. I have to thank French, Jim Haines, and the speedway. I would drive down here every weekend if we had a race down here.”
Harris held off John Karklin of Waxhaw, North Carolina, who finished second and Andy Best of Dover, Delaware, rounded out the podium finishers in third.
One yellow flag slowed the event when defending race winner from last June, Daren Bolac, of Moyock, spun in turn two while running inside the top six on lap 13. The event featured a first-time racer, Matthew Mullins of Hampton, who prior to Friday, hadn’t competed on a dirt track in more than 30 years.
Karklin who finished runner up featured the only father-son duo in the race. Karklin’s son, Jake Karklin, made his first start at Dixieland and finished the event in fourth place.
Racers who competed in the event traveled from across North Carolina, and other states including Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
In addition to Dixieland, the series competes at Langley Speedway in Hampton and other tracks in Virginia including Natural Bridge and Shenandoah. Drivers also navigate a raceway in Hagerstown, Maryland and the national championships are contested in Eagle, Nebraska.
In other feature races, Larry Jackson ended a long winless streak by grabbing the checkers in the Budweiser Allstar Late Model 30-lap race. He dominated the event, leading flag to flag to earn his first win in more than three years. Jackson held off last week’s winner and dominator at the track, Billy Hubbard.
“There is a lot of people that helped this car, and no one is more important than the other,” said Jackson following the race in victory lane. “The car is getting faster. It seemed like the Daytona 500, but it could have been the Dixieland 500.”
The event was mired with caution flags as various cars ran into one another and tagged the safety walls. The start of the race was a challenge as it took three attempts to begin due to drivers near the rear of the field spinning on the course. Once the race officially started, it was slowed six times due to wrecks or debris. The last yellow came on lap 28, setting up a two-lap dash to the finish line. Jackson was able to hold off Hubbard and third place finisher Tom Wilson.
Hubbard and Jackson are now tied in the 2019 championship chase after two of 15 races.
He started on the outside pole and finished second last week. On Friday, Mark Gonzales finished one spot better to claim his first win of the season in the Rapid Ron’s Racing Sportsman. Gonzales led flag to flag to claim his first win since August 24th, 2018. The battle on the track for most of the evening was for the second position between outside pole sitter and last week’s winner Joe Weiss, and Troy Brickhouse. Brickhouse started the race in fourth and quickly moved his way towards the front of the field. He would ultimately outduel Wiess to claim the runner up position.
For the second week in a row, the struggle in advancing this year from the Little Caesars Super Streets to the Rapid Ron’s Racing Sportsman continued for Devin Weatherly. The 33-year old spun in turns three and four and soon pitted following that. He would go on to finish in sixth place.
Following his win, Gonzales now leads the point standings by two points over Weiss.
Dennis Barnes earned his first victory of 2019, holding off last weeks winner, Justin Pruitt, to claim the Little Caesars Super Street win. Barnes started the 20-lap race on the outside pole and wasted no time to move his number 20 Chevrolet Monte Carlo to the point. The 53-year-old from Camden hit his marks perfectly throughout the race that was slowed twice due to a couple of single-car spins by Howard Bradshaw on opposite ends of the track. Allen Shiflett rounded out the top three finishers, despite the fact he competed with no power steering. Friday nights race was the first start of the season for the 54-year old Elizabeth City racer. Shiflett attempted to start last week, however mechanical problems sidelined the fierce competitor who visited victory lane twice in 2018 and finished second in the points race.
The fate of another first-time racer this season didn’t fare as well as Shiflett. Josh Letson, 43, of Chesapeake, started the event in third and ran inside the top four until lap six. At that point while under caution conditions, he retired from the event due to mechanical issues and finished the race in 10thplace.
Pruitt and Barnes are now tied for the lead in the championship point standings headed into this weekend’s races.
On his birthday, James Hissom, Jr. became the only driver at Dixieland to have multiple wins in 2019. The racer from Moyock started on the pole and led all 15-laps on his way to victory lane. AJ Smith made his first start in 2019 by capturing a heat race win and started the main on the outside pole. The Chesapeake racer kept his Acura Integra in the runner up spot until he cut a tire and was forced to pit, ending his hopes of a possible win. Capitalizing on Smith’s misfortune, Harrison Moore who earned a career-best finish of third last week, was able to better his racing statistics with a runner up finish. In only his second career start, Kolten Stevens finished in third place.
Hissom continues to lead the points chase by six markers over Moore.
Racing continues this Friday, May 17th. All four divisions, including the Budweiser Late Models, Rapid Ron’s Racing Sportsman, Little Caesars Super Streets, and the Biggs Cadillac Buick GMC Stock Fours will return in addition to the R & D Excavating Super Fours. A special foot race with a cash prize will be held. Gates open at 5:00 p.m. Practice kicks off at 6:30 p.m. followed by qualifying and racing begins at 8:00 p.m.
About Dixieland Speedway:
Dixieland Speedway is northeastern North Carolina’s premier action track. The 3/8-mile dirt oval has hosted exciting Friday night racing since 1983. Long straightaways and tight turns lead to the intense on-track action. The clay track is 55 feet wide and turns one and two are banked at 12 degrees, while turns three and four are eight-degrees. Race fans from all over the region have come to witness spectacular side by side racing through the years. The family-friendly facility offers something for everyone as on-track action keeps fans on the edge of their seats all night long. Refreshment and souvenir stands are on site. Tickets for all events are available for purchase in person. Don’t miss your chance to see why they call Dixieland, the track that started it all. To learn more, visit dixielandspeedway.net or follow Dixieland Speedway on Facebook (Dixieland Speedway), Twitter (@DixielandSpdwy) and Instagram (@dixielandspeedway). Information by phone, dial 252-771-5151. Dixieland Speedway is located at 1520 Northside Road in Elizabeth City.