Eddie Johnson wins 75-lap feature at Southside August 04, 2017. (Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com)
Midlothian, VA – For the second time in 2017 Southside Speedway ran a 75-lap feature for their premier division that put on a hell of a show for the fans. In a division where the past several year’s drivers have been used to running 30 to 40 lap sprints, Southside Officials decided that two races this year would be more laps – here at The Weekly Racer think both events were amazing. With the amount of young rookie talent mixed in with seasoned racing veterans, it would be a sure show of who could manage tires.
Mason Bailey, coming off his third win of the season last time out, entered the weekend as the new found points leader and was the fastest man in town. Technically qualifying on the pole with a 14.831-second lap of record. Bailey would take the bonus point for the pole and have to start second to Eddie Johnson after the infamous Southside Speedway invert. J.D Eversole, Grayson Cullather, and Andrew Dean would make up the rest of the fastest five cars or the evening’s race.
Once the green flag was displayed to the field, Mason Bailey wasted no time jumping out front of Eddie Johnson, using the outside line mind you and setting a pace he thought was needed to stay out front. The race would surprisingly see only two leaders and three caution periods for minor contact and spins from drivers. Lane Janosik seemed to pull the bad luck straw this weekend because he was involved in two of the three yellow flags after qualifying ninth on the evening. Contact with the number 26 of John Crews out of turn two would ultimately end both drivers’ night early.
Bailey and Eddie Johnson were clearly the class of the field Friday night and it honestly looked like Bailey was going to sneak away with his second victory in a row and fourth on the season as he was strong each restart, clearing Eddie at least by turn three. Eddie, being the veteran racer that he is, did not let this worry him as he seemed to have the better car on the longer runs, putting a full court press on the rear bumper of Bailey about ten or so laps into the run.
Behind them, however, was plenty of action on the tight .333-mile oval. Brad Davis, J.D. Eversole – until he pulled down pit road and ended his night early – and Grayson Cullather were all at one point, either nose to tail or door-to-door battling hard for position. The final caution of the evening would come on lap sixty-two after Andrew Dean and Howie DiSavino made a little contact, which ultimately sent DiSavino around. This happened just after Johnson help persuades Bailey to use the top groove through turn four to take the lead coming to the stripe.
With Johnson and Bailey again lining up on the front row Mason needed to get a good restart if he wanted to power his way back to the lead on the outside. When the green flag was displayed it almost looked like Bailey spun his eight-inch Hoosier tires which were all Eddie needed to cruise to victory. Behind them in the closing laps, however, Michael Sutphin, who was involved in the nights first yellow, had made his way all the way back up to the front of the field in the tire tracks of Chris Johnson – who by the way started in the back of the pack – to earn themselves a top five finish.
“We were a little upset we weren’t able to put our Pearson Dodge on the pole,” Johnson said. “Ended up qualifying second and he [Bailey] drew a two so we ended up starting on the pole. You know a lot of times out here the outside line goes at the start, you got fresh tires and you get a good grip off two. I just settled in there and tried to save my tires but stay close enough to put some pressure on him.”
After the first caution of the race, Johnson elected to take the cone and start on the outside of Bailey to give the top groove one more shot.
“We took off on the outside there,” Johnson mentioned about the first restart of the night. “I was hoping we could get up to him and battle a little bit more there but he was pushing a little bit of water out of his car and it was getting on my windshield plus there wasn’t as much grip on the top as we wanted so I just settled back in. That’s when I noticed my car kinda came back to me a little better than his did.”
With twelve laps to go either Bailey’s car started to fade or the constant pressure of that blue 43 got to the rookie as Johnson was able to finally stick a nose to the inside.
“We got behind him after that second caution, got real close behind him and that’s when he started to really slow down,” explained Johnson. “He was starting to really hold me up and I finally worked my nose under him and we went on to win the race. He did a really good job holding on, though. I was giving him everything I had.”
“I would really like to thing Mr. and Mrs. Hughes for bringing out the 43 Dodge and bringing their car out here for probably as many years as I have been coming out here. This is what they live for, to come out here and race. I am just glad I can do a good job for them. I want to thank Pro Tech Fab, Crazy Greek for bringing some pizza’s out here to eat on race night. All the guys on the crew, my son [Chris Johnson] for helping me set it up and everyone who supports me.”
Jamie Hite (#12) was victorious in the evening’s 25-lap UCAR feature. After qualifying second with a time of 17.088 to Ethan Ayers (#87) – 17.062, Hite was the lucky one so to speak when the invert pill was pulled as he got to keep his second place starting spot on the grid when the green flag dropped. Ayers would draw a three, which should have put Korey Lawson (#04) on the pole as he was the third fastest qualifier. However, Lawson and Anderson (#13) had their times disallowed after failing post-qualifying inspection. This would hand the lead over to the #51 of Devenney.
The race would only be slowed by one caution as Jamie Hite went to cruise to victory. Fast qualifier, and eventual second place finisher, Ethan Ayers tried to take the lead on lap fifteen with a power move into turn one but Hite used the classic cross over move to retake the lead out of two. Michael Chapman, who is no stranger to victory lane at Southside Speedway, was running a different car this week and was looking to make things interesting early. However, he would eventually fall back outside of the top five with a little more than five laps to go.
Both the Late Models and UCAR’s will be back in action Friday, August 18th with 40 & 25 lap features respectfully.
Late Model OFFICIAL Results;
- #43 Eddie Johnson; 75
- #05 Mason Bailey; 75
- #18 Brad Davis; 75
- # 24 Chris Johnson; 75
- #25 Michael Sutphin; 75
- #22 Grayson Cullather; 75
- #29 Andrew Dean; 75
- #55 Howie DiSavinso; 75
- #09 Sonny Allen; 75
- #19 Rusty Wood; 56
- #98 J.D. Eversole; 52
- #26 John Crews; 35
- #79 Lane Janosik; 35
UCAR OFFICIAL Results;
- #12 Jamie Hite; 25
- #87 Ethan Ayers; 25
- #03 Korey Lawson; 25
- #96 Alex Ayers; 25
- #13 Beejay Anderson; 25
- #1 Mike Frayser; 25
- #97 Michael Chapman; 25
- #51 Dillon Devenney; 20