Dodson says NASCAR life involves busy schedule

Published 8:16 am Wednesday, September 23, 2009

RICHMOND—On a day when NASCAR decided its drivers for the chase for the Sprint Cup Series championship, Courtland native Lee Dodson worked hard on car No. 09 for the Miccosukee race team at Richmond International Raceway.

Dodson, a mechanic, assistant setup man and road mechanic, is the son of Jack and Sheryl Dodson who reside in Courtland.

Dodson is also the grandson of Marvin and Pauline Dodson, who reside in Courtland and Harvey and Carolyn Porter who live in Newsoms.

Dodson works in the garage and in the shop, setting up the cars and working on crash repair.

“At the shop we put the cars together. Once they are put together I help the car chief set the cars up and then we go to what they call a pull-down,” Dodson said. “We do our safety check before we load then we load up and come to the track. At the track everybody works together to get all the changes done in practice. During the race we do crash repair. The only time we need to do crash repair is when we go behind the wall. Other than that, we do pit support, pull a hose, or catch a tire if we don’t have to go across the wall for crash repair.”

Dodson said he has a demanding schedule and the pace begins to pick up on Thursdays.

“We usually leave out on Thursdays and we’re gone Thursday, Friday and fly back Saturday night. The pace is very high. They expect a lot out of you and you to do it really quick especially when you get to the track. Once you get to the track in the mornings it’s from 7 a.m. or 6:30 a.m., whenever the garage opens, till 11 or 12, whenever the race is over,” Dodson said. “Everybody is on a high-speed pace to get it done and get home. Our motto is go to the track, perform, run good and go home.

“We want to win every week, but we want to run good. We haven’t been running well lately, we’ve had a bunch of wrecks and stuff happening, but we want to run good and go home. That’s pretty much how it is,” he added.

NASCAR has not been exempt from the economic downturn, and the Miccosukee race team is going through changes.

Dodson gave some insight as to what might be ahead.

“They changed drivers and got rid of Mike Bliss. They weren’t really happy with him after the Iowa race and I guess we’re going to finish out the year with a bunch of cup drivers,” Dodson said. “We have Truex at Dover and after that we don’t know who we’re going to have.

“The pit crew is still the same. Everybody’s duties are going to have to change. They are going to have to help the cup team every once in awhile. They’re kind of in a hiring freeze right now so we’re going to have to help the cup guys out,” he added.

“We’re going to be doing both for probably the rest of the year. As for the drivers, they have a bunch in mind who they want but nothing is locked right now.”

As for Dodson, he said he would like to stay where he is for next season.

“I like this group of guys that I’m with, so I’d like to be with them next year. It’s kind of a long drive but I chill with everybody on the weekends, we all get along, we get our stuff done and we go home,” Dodson said.

“Maybe something else will open up but right now I’d like to be with these guys next year. I think we can win some races. We’ve proven that, and I think we can run well. That’s all I want to do.”