The inaugural Southern Super Series season ends on Saturday night with the prestigious All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville. Before it does, let’s take a look back at the top-5 moments to come out of a very entertaining and competitive first season of Super Late Model tour racing in the Deep South.
Southern Super Series announced at Snowball Derby
A major void was filled in December with the announced creation of the Southern Super Series, a 16-race Super Late Model tour spanning five tracks in four states.
Created in the same spirit as Bob Harmon’s old All-Pro Series, the Southern Tour has proven to be an exciting and often “old-school” approach to Super Late Model Racing.
And while it remains to be seen what the Southern Super Series will ultimately become, the seeds were planted for what could be a revival of traditional Southeastern Super Late Model Racing — and it all began on the morning of last year’s Snowball Derby.
Bubba Pollard wins first Southern Super Series event at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville
For the Southern Super Series to earn prestige and notoriety right from the start, it needed to visit a historic facility and have a relevant and popular winner.
It received both when Bubba Pollard scored the first ever victory in the Southern Super Series in the Music City 125 — and his first at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
The race attracted a healthy field of 31 cars and was a sure sign that the Southern Super Series had the potential to earn staying power — especially given that event had outdrawn the previous year’s All-American 400, which featured Kyle Busch.
It was a well-promoted and exciting festival of speed and a sign of things to come.
T.J. Reaid earns validating victory at Pensacola, Hemric gains championship lead
T.J. Reaid had led much of the first quarter of the Snowball Derby last December before an accident with Kyle Busch controversially ended his day. It was the Georgia-native’s best shot to win the Super Bowl of Late Model Racing and it came to an abrupt halt.
So it was with a hint of redemption on May 25 that Reaid captured his first Super Late Model victory at Five Flags Speedway in the Rubber and Specialties 125.
“We’ve been waiting to win here for a long time,” Reaid said after the race. “I’m glad I could add Five Flags to my resume. It was sort of a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story after the Derby.”
But the event was relevant for another reason as the championship lead first changed hands after the event as a race-dominant Bubba Pollard crashed from the lead on lap 121. The accident combined with a Daniel Hemric top-5 dropped Pollard from the top spot and was the first sign that Hemric would be a challenger for the rest of the season.
Augie Grill disqualified, temporarily leaves Southern Super Series
No event changed the complexion of the inaugural Southern Super Series campaign quite like the disqualification of Augie Grill following a victory at Pensacola on June 21.
Grill had just won his third straight victory of the season but was disqualified when a new Sunoco fuel testing machine was introduced and deemed that his mixture was illegal. That race was the first time the machine had been used in post-race technical inspection this season.
The disqualification stripped him of his win, removed him from the championship picture and saw him abandon the Southern Super Series for a few months while he stewed over the perceived wrongdoing that was placed upon him.
Grill ultimately returned in August for the World Crown 300 and has been just as competitive as before. This has left many to wonder what could have been if Grill had been able to remain in championship contention.
Preston Peltier wins World Crown 300 at Gresham Motorsports Park
Preston Peltier never even planned to race in the World Crown 300 at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Ga. An accident at home in June placed him on the sidelines and he didn’t enter his team for the July 4 event.
But when the race was rained out and pushed back to August 10, it allowed him to make the quick trek from Concord where he works for Hendrick Motorsports and he surprisingly won the race.
It was a shock on a variety of levels as Peltier is traditionally a Pro All Stars Series (PASS) driver and defeated
The victory also propelled him to enter the other remaining Grand Slam races at Winchester, Nashville and the Snowball Derby. If he can find his way back to Victory Lane one more time, it would make for an inspirational story given where he was in the middle of the summer.
What is your favorite moment from the first Southern Super Series season? Tell us in the comments section below.