Points leaders rule despite tire switch
Hopkins and Hott win races with track changing to Hoosier
BY WALT AMACKER
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Published Sunday, July 8, 2007
Southside Speedway changed its tire supplier from Goodyear to Hoosier this week because Goodyear has been unable to supply the Midlothian track the past several weeks, so track owner Sue Clements made a call and Hoosier answered. But the playing field was level since all drivers used the same tires.
And Late Model Sportsman driver and points leader Chris Hopkins and Grand Stock points leader Chris Hott had no quarrels with the new rubber as they took first-place trophies before 2,000 spectators Friday night.
"The biggest thing I did was pace myself," Hopkins said of his victory in the LMS 150-lap race. "I really didn't push the car to do any more than it could, and when the cars in front of me started getting loose, I found the loopholes."
Hopkins started in fifth position behind pole-sitter Steve Zuskin, Greg Fernandez, Wayne McGee and 2006 LMS track champion Chris Dodson. By Lap 22, he had overtaken Dodson, and a few laps later, he left McGee in his wake.
Zuskin had a strong car, and by Lap 40, it was basically a four-car race. With Zuskin in the lead, he, Fernandez, McGee and Dodson set off and left everyone else behind by a half-track length. By Lap 75, the top four were contending primarily with lapped traffic while trying to stay on each other's bumper.
Around Lap 100, Hopkins pulled to Zuskin's inside and the two were door to door for three laps until Hopkins took the lead. By Lap 110, Hopkins was able to pick and choose his way around the lapped traffic en route to his fourth win of the year.
Hopkins ran the race with a heavy heart because of the recent death of Mark Fenrite, 46, who had videotaped all of Hopkins' races for the past 14 years.
"I owe a lot to Mark, because I watched every tape he ever made of me racing and was able to correct a lot of things because of what I was able to see," Hopkins said.
Zuskin and Fernandez were running second and third when the 01 car of Charles Lamb Jr., which had been running slow and was a number of laps down, got loose coming out of Turn 4 on Lap 132 and took both of them out of the race in a spectacular crash that caused the race to be redflagged.
Dodson praised Hopkins. "He's running good," said Dodson, who is second in the points standing to Hopkins. "I had his number last year, but we're just not as fast as he is . . . yet. We're only 12 points out, so we'll keep on digging."
Points leader Chris Hott won the 100-lap Grand Stock race to pad his lead over Donnie Newman, who finished second. Hott is the only Grand Stock driver to win a second race at Southside this season.
Oh, and about the tires. A number of drivers were questioned as to their opinions of the Hoosier tire. The vote was unanimous. Everyone was happy with them, though they proved to be slightly slower.
Contact Walt Amacker at (804) 649-6554 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Late Model Sportsman (150 laps): 1. Chris Hopkins; 2. Chris Dodson; 3. Roy Hendrick; 4. Russ Ellis; 5. Wayne McGee; 6. Ray Ashworth; 7. Brandon Hendrick; 8. George Pillsbury; 9. Jason Pittman; 10. Rob Jenkins; 11. Chris Mueller; 12. Scott Turlington; 13. Steve Zuskin; 14. Greg Fernandez; 15. Charles Lamb Jr.; 16. Joey Bryant; 17. Donny Clatterbuck; 18. Michael Perkins
Grand Stocks (100 laps): 1. Chris Hott; 2. Donnie Neuman; 3. Jason Beck; 4. Timmy Nice; 5. Richard Skeens; 6. Bradley Vaught; 7. B.K. Wilson; 8. Keith Mackta; 9. Matthew Ashworth; 10. Tony Ingram Sr.; 11. Alan Purser; 12. Justin Brown; 13. Phillip Clark; 14. Mark Jenkins; 15. Gary Burton; 16. Brian Myslivy; 17. Fred Key; 18. Pop Liford; 19. Woody Ellington; 20. Richard Lipford; 21. Cory Willoughby; 22. Chris Willoughby; 23. Daniel Shelton