Tag Archives: Chris Dodson

Southside Speedway Gearing Up for Spectacular Season: Celebrates 60th Anniversary This Friday

That’s right ladies and gentleman, Friday night short track racing returns this weekend at the historic Southside Speedway located in Midlothian, Virginia. Southside first opened its doors to drivers and fans back in April of 1959 by J.M. Wilkinson and is currently being run by his daughter, Sue Clements, and granddaughter, Jennifer Mullis. March 29th will mark 60 years at “The Toughest Short Track in the South” and has the potential to be yet another historic event in the tracks already rich history.

Southside currently hosts six divisions of racing — Late Models, IMCA style asphalt Modifieds, Grand Stocks, UCARS, as well as the INEX Legends and Bandolero division — that will typically run each night. Hosting races just about every other Friday night from March to August it allows for teams to compete throughout the summer but also save a little bit of cash from operating week in and week out. Another unique feature about Southside Speedway is they open their season with a bang, J.M. Wilkinson Opening Night is not just a date, it’s not just the start of the season, it’s an annual event that every driver wants to win. Speaking of winning, no modern day driver has done more of that at Southside than Late Model legend, Chris Dodson.

Dodson closed out 2018 strong winning his seventy-second race and winning an impressive ninth series championship. During victory lane and trophy presentation, a very emotional Dodson was unclear of his 2019 plans and if he would return for a full season. If we may speak honestly here, and our readers know we do, Dodson has nothing to be ashamed of if he were to hang his helmet up. Whether you like the guy or hate the guy he will go down as one of the greats at Southside Speedway. Don’t let your hard down to soon, however, because Dodson did hint that he would make an attempt at winning his seventh J.M. Wilkinson Opening Night in a row.

There will be plenty of other drivers to look out for this season and the first one to come to mind is Eddie Johnson. Driving most of the 2018 season in the No. 43 Richard Petty look-a-like and eventually transitioning into the 00, Johnson has been racing at Southside Speedway longer than I have been on this earth and certainly knows how to get around. We haven’t heard yet if Johnson will be driving for another owner or for himself yet. A few other names to look out for; Mason Bailey, Howie DiSavino, and Chris Hopkins. No doubt Bailey struggled last season to find speed in the car but the kid has raw talent and it won’t take him long to find his way back into victory lane. DiSavino is another young driver to keep an eye on. As the season came to an end he came on strong. Hopefully, that team can keep the momentum up and find their way to victory lane. Chris Hopkins, what’s not to say about Hopkins? Running double duty often in the Modified and Late Model towards the end of the year, Hopkins got on a hot streak and never cooled down, expect to see similar results this year.

In other divisions, Dan Rogers is expected to return to the Grand Stock division and defend his title after dominating 2018 in a historic way. Hopefully, we also see the return of Chris Hopkins in the Modified division after such a killer performance last season. The UCAR series, of course, will be nothing less than spectacular. With so many drivers in and out of cars, the championship battle will be one to watch of course. In the INEX Legends series, we expect to see Daniel Silvestri make his return. We are not 100% certain want landing that ride with Burton-Sellers Racing in the Late Model will do to his Legend career, however, Silvestri is our early pick for the Legend Championship. In the Bando’s Layton Harrison, among others, should make their return. With last year’s championship battle coming down to the wire, we can’t even make a prediction on this series.

Front gates are slated to open for fans at 6:00 PM EDT. Qualifying is scheduled to get underway at the same time. The green flag is expected to drop at 7:45 PM EDT. We will have LIVE coverage, as always; on our Twitter feed starting with qualifying and leading into the feature. Please note that we will not be able to cover every division in detail due to the nature of the event.

 

2019 SEASON SCHEDULE

Friday, March 29
Friday, April 5
Friday, April 19 (75-lap Late Models)
Friday, May 3
Friday, May 10
Friday, May 31
Friday, June 14
Friday, June 28
Friday, July 12 (75-lap Late Models)
Friday, July 26
Friday, August 9
Friday, August 23

Chris Dodson Late Race Pass Earns Himself the Win and his Ninth Late Model Series Championship

Top three drivers and Rookie of the Year celebrate in victory lane at the conclusion of the 2018 season at Southside Speedway. Drivers from left to right: John Goin, Mason Bailey, Howie Disavino, Chris Dodson. (Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com)

Midlothian, VA – Within the last 48-hours everyone here in the Mid-Atlantic area have had their eye on the weather. To be honest with you, Mother Nature has reared her ugly head plenty of time this season.

She tired to put a damper on this evenings championship evening, however, Southside was not going to be denied even after heavy rains rolled through the area ending practice early and ultimately nixing qualifying. During the drivers meeting, the top five in points pulled pills to create the invert and Eddie Johnson lucked out and got the right to lead the field to the green. Rookie of the Year contender John Goin would start to his outside followed by Mason Bailey, Chris Dodson, and Howie Disavino.

Eddie Johnson, the veteran Late Model Stock Car driver that he is, got a great start and led the field down into turn one. Goin, however, did not get going as fast as the rest of everyone else. Mason Bailey and Chris Dodson jumped on the hiccup faster than you could blink your eye, taking the second and third positions respectively. With Eddie Johnson sporting a two-second second lead over Dodson the battle was on for positions three through seven.

While Disavino, Bailey, Martz, Davis, and Hopkins were all fighting bumper-to-bumper and even door-to-door Chris Dodson caught the race leader the hard way – under green. Dodson was able to close the two-second gap from lap eleven down to just a couple of feet with just three laps left in the 2018 season. The pass for the lead actually came in turn four after Dodson looked to use the famous bump and run technique to get by. Johnson had to chase the car up the hill and Dodson down the front stretch looking to return the favor. However, it was not enough, Dodson would go on to take the race win by about two cars lengths. The win, though not needed to win the championship, just helped solidified Dodson’s dominance at the “toughest short track in the south.”

Behind the duo, Chris Hopkins was able to take the third position followed by Brad Davis, and Justin Martz. Though John Goin rounded out the field in the eleventh spot, he was able to earn the Rookie of the Year title.

“Oh man. You deal with time and it eventually runs out you know,” an emotional Chris Dodson in victory lane to accept his trophy. “I know a lot of people don’t like me but I just put everything I ever had. This place has always been very special to me. To have the twelve-year run that we have had when I started we were terrible, Sonny Hutchen told me I would never ever amount to anything if I didn’t stop wrecking. To win nine championships and seventy-two wins its very humbling. I am so blessed to do this, I really am. My guys just work so hard, and Williamsburg Honda, I feel like I am obligated to just race so hard. I know that might step on some people’s toes. But these parents of these of these kids coming up should be really proud.”

Dodson went on to thank more of the people that helped make the season happen. He also made mention that he did not know what 2019 held for him. He did hint that he would come back and make a run for a seventh win in a row from the JM Wilkinson Memorial race that is run on opening night.

Howie Disavino, who has worked his way up from the Arena Racing USA ranks, was able to finish second in the points after a handful of poles wins throughout the season.

“The redraw just wasn’t my friend this year,” Disavino said in victory lane. “We got up there [the front of the field] a couple times but the invert hurt us.” Disavino put up one heck of a fight this year finishing between two drivers that have been behind the wheel twice as long as he has been on this earth. “Congrats to Chris [Dodson] on that ninth championship. Got to thank TORP Chassis for the fast race cars. It was great to race with Chris and Eddie.”

Mason Bailey, who had a very impressive rookie season in 2017, was able to collect at least one win this season and put up solid runs to finish third in the final points standings.

“I wake up blessed to drive these cars every day,” Bailey said. “Shout out to all my guys and all of our business partners.”

 

Late Model Stock Car OFFICIAL Results; 

  1. #0 Chris Dodson; 40
  2. #00 Eddie Johnson; 40
  3. #88 Chris Hopkins; 40
  4. #18 Brad Davis; 40
  5. #22 Justin Martz; 40
  6. #05 Mason Bailey; 40
  7. #55 Howie Disavino; 40
  8. #25 Michael Sutphin; 40
  9. #20 Sonny Allen; 40
  10. #29 Andrew Dean; 40
  11. #90 John Goin; 39

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

Southside Speedway Back to Racing This Weekend With 75-lap Late Model Feature

Midlothian, VA – Mother Nature got her way last weekend when a lingering cold front washed out most of the racing taking place throughout the eastern part of the Commonwealth, Southside Speedway was included. With clear to partly cloudy conditions all morning and afternoon and a very little chance of that, “wet stuff,” that got in the way last weekend, things look to be a go tonight near the state’s capital.

The Late Model’s, averaging around sixteen to eighteen cars a night, will also make their return for the second and final 75-lap feature of the year. Chris Dodson won this race earlier in the summer holding off some of the youngest drivers – Mason Bailey, Grayson Cullather, JD Eversole – in the Late Model ranks. With the win, Dodson enters this evening one of the heavy favorites along with long time Late Model racer, Eddie Johnson. With the longer laps and smaller tires. it’s a no brainer that experience will come into play tonight. However, rookie stand out’s Mason Bailey, is coming off a thrilling victory the last time these cars were on track after a three wide battle netted him the race lead on a late race caution and eventually earned him his third win of the year followed by none other than Mr. Grayson Cullather. As the race season draws to an end, the temps stay elevated and the memory banks grow larger, we expect tonight’s feature to be a barn burner.

In addition to the 75-lap Late Model Feature, the IMCA style asphalt Modifieds will pick up their epic points battle this evening with a 30-lap feature along with the Grand Stocks. Cody Carlton will look defend his race win and points lead as the INEX Legends and UCAR will be on tap for 25-laps each while the Bando’s will kick off the night with their 15-lap feature.

The Weekly Racer will, of course, have you covered if you are unable to make it out to the speedway this evening. However, I highly recommend packing the kids and the car and heading out to the track because you are not going to want to miss this race. Front gates and qualifying are set to open and get underway at 6:00 PM EDT with the first green flag at 7:45 PM. We will have LIVE coverage of qualifying on our Twitter feed (@theweeklyracer). If you do not have Twitter you can follow along right here on our website. You will see our Tweets on the right side bar they will just be delayed and may require some page refreshing. We are working on a way to bring this same LIVE coverage to those of you without Twitter.

 

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;

  1. #05 Mason Bailey; 40
  2. #22 Grayson Cullather; 40
  3. #24 Chris Johnson; 40
  4. #18 Brad Davis; 40
  5. #20 Sonny Allen; 40
  6. #55 Howie Disavino; 40
  7. #43 Eddie Johnson; 40
  8. #9 Alex Brock; 40
  9. #25 Michael Sutphin; 40
  10. #0 Chris Dodson; 40
  11. #26 John Crews; 40
  12. #79 Lane Janosik; 40
  13. #04 Bugs Hairfield; 36
  14. #99 Daniel Thomas; 25
  15. #19 Rusty Wood; 15
  16. #42 Mike Payne; 2

 

Grand Stock OFFICIAL Results;

  1. #07 Austin Dodge
  2. #40 Todd Ruggles
  3. #33 Dan Rogers
  4. #41 Cameron Ruggles
  5. #88 Mike Lowe
  6. #39 Tony Hull
  7. #36 Mark Simpson
  8. #21 Shannon Smith
« Older Entries