Stinson's title was costly
Southside's champ says second place meant losing money
BY RALPN N. PAULK
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Published September 26, 2008

SEPTEMBER 26, 2008
SOUTHSIDE SPEEDWAY
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Again this season, Thomas Stinson dominated the Modified division at Southside Speedway. He was pushed, but never really challenged for the driver's title.

Stinson clinched a track-record fifth consecutive title earlier this month. He shrugged off his early-season rivals, Chris Johnson and Kyle Wood, in amassing 6,740 points -- a 660-point margin of victory.

Tonight, he gets the hardware for his season championship as part of the trophy presentation ceremony at the "toughest short track in the South."

The hefty points margin notwithstanding, the journey to the championship was not an easy one for Stinson, who has won seven championships at Southside. The increasing cost of racing fuel and tires put a financial strain on his team and many others.

"The only difference with this championship and the others is the economy," Stinson said. "It was a struggle to find sponsors, but it helped to have the same guys on my crew all year.

"If we had to find new sponsors, it would have been difficult. Racing gas is like $8 a gallon, so when we win like we do, we came out a little bit ahead. But guys finishing second are losing money.

"That's why I come to the racetrack to win," said Stinson, who won Charger (now Grand Stock) titles in 1989 and 1990. "If I'm going to finish second, I might as well stay home."

Stinson, 46, has 13 modified titles -- including two at South Boston Speedway and one at Langley Speedway.

Southside, he said, is his favorite racetrack.

"We run all over the place, but I want to run Southside as long as the track is there," said Stinson, a Chester resident who began racing at the one-third-mile track in the late 1980s.

In addition to Stinson, drivers clinched championships in four other divisions: Shayne Lockhart (Late Model), Chris Hott (Grand Stock), Renno Marchetti IV (U-Car) and Mike Ganoe (Street Stock).

Lockhart pulled away from Chris Dodson the past two events to capture his Late Model championship. Hott's Grand Stock championship is his second straight.

If tonight's racing is postponed, track officials expect to reschedule for Oct. 3.

Contact Ralph N. Paulk at (804) 649-6851 or rpaulk@timesdispatch.com.