Correction: A previous version of this story stated that the engine weight break rules for the Baby Rattler were added a month ago. The first call from Steve Dorer came a month ago and the rule was added in the days leading up to the race — as the rule book allows Ricky Brooks to make minor adjustments leading up to an event.
The latest chapter in the simmering rivalry between Bubba Pollard and Steven Nasse was written on Saturday night in the Baby Rattler 125 Pro Late Model race at South Alabama Speedway.
Pollard won the race, but not without his rivals attributing the victory with a couple of technical asterisks throughout the race.
The winning pass was made with 35 laps to go with Pollard driving around Nasse on the outside of Turns 3 and 4.
Before that pass was made, crew chief Chris Cater told Nasse that the only thing keeping Pollard in lockstep with him was a 100 lb. weight break afforded by the No. 26’s new GM engine.
During a caution on Lap 95, Nasse was again told that he was doing “one hell of a job,” and that a 100 lb. weight break makes for “one hell of a difference.”
Pollard went on to win the race ahead of Wes Griffith Jr. and Nasse finished third after recovering from a messy restart in which he fell from second to fifth in two laps.
In December, the Champion Racing Association implemented a rule change that allowed the Chevrolet 604 crate engines to race at 6500 rpm and receive a 150 lb. weight break — 25lb over its Ford counterpart to be more competitive.
The reason the CRA’s RJ Scott provided was as follows:
“Many people came through the ranks of racing using Chevy products and being Chevy fans, so we had to ask ourselves why we were seeing fewer and fewer Chevys in crate racing. People were choosing Fords not because they wanted to, but felt the rules configuration favored the Ford, and therefore to be competitive they had to change brands, out of necessity, not because of preference.”
Nasse and his team were under the impression entering the weekend that any version of the CRA weight break did not apply for the Baby Rattler — an independent event not sanctioned by any touring series.
“They got a 100 lb weight break with whatever new motor they got,” Nasse said after the race. “We called to get one those motors because we needed it to run next weekend at I-44. We called ahead of time to see if we could run the motor here and they said ‘no.’
“So, we show up, Bubba and Steve Dorer both had the motor with the 100 lb weight break. It’s unfortunate and it’s unfair. We should have a level playing field, but you can’t cry about it and we’ll move on to the next one.”
For his part, chief technical inspector Ricky Brooks said that he never received a call from Nasse nor Cater over the matter and that South Alabama Speedway owner John Dykes called him every time he received a call from a driver.
Brooks is not in favor of the CRA’s version of the weight break and is instead lobbying for a restrictor plate on rebuilt crates, believing the overall 150 lb. weight break for the Chevrolet engines to be far too much.
“We are not doing that,” Brooks said. “150 lb makes every Pro Late Model feel like they’re at a disadvantage unless they throw everything away and purchase another motor. That would kick a lot of people out of Pro Late Model racing and we can’t afford that.
“What I have proposed to Tim (Bryant, Five Flags Speedway), Stan (Narrison, Montomery Motor Speedway) and everyone else is do like we do at Jukasa (Motor Speedway for the Canadian Short Track Nationals) and put a restrictor (enough to sap about 25hp) on the rebuilt crate and offer a small weight break for the stock crate.
“Every engine builder and driver I’ve talked to is in favor of that because they don’t have to throw anything away, they can run their stuff until it’s timed out, blows up, or whatever. And then, they can make the decision to rebuild or spend the same money to buy a stock engine.
“We’re headed back to a stock engine in Pro Late Models. 100 percent. The Chevy right now gets a 25 lb. weight break versus the Fords. Currently … A rebuilt crate gets 25 lbs. over the Ford. And I give them an additional 75 lbs. over a rebuilt crate.”
Steve Dorer made the call to Dykes to lobby for the CRA rules, but Brooks conceded on a 100 lb. break instead of 150.
For his part, Pollard is in favor of the rule as it does provide a degree of cost containment that he has been an advocate for.
Pollard is part of the Short Track Council alongside Speed51.com president Bob Dillner and PFC Brakes representative Chris Dilbeck.
“The CRA has the rule and we’re trying to adapt it,” Pollard said. “We’re trying to get racers coming back to the racetrack. This motor cost me $5,800. We’re trying to cut the costs of this stuff so people can come back racing.
“We’ve won 14 out of 18 races with this car with a Ford. Now we’ve won with a Chevrolet in it.”
It isn’t in the rule book for south Alabama and you know it normal stuff from Ricky Brooks
Pollard also said his pass of Nasse on Lap 95 was executed with a purpose.
“I proved a point tonight by passing him on the outside for a reason,” Pollard said. “So, when you pass someone on the outside, it’s because you have a good handling race car and it’s not the engine.”
On the restart after getting passed, Nasse lost the three spots and couldn’t explain what happened to his car. In real-time, he even thought he had debris on his tires. It was the only plausible explanation.
“I lost all traction on the front tires coming out of Turn 4,” Nasse said. “After that, we got back up to speed. I don’t know. It’s very unfortunate. I don’t feel like I was out of line. Bubba fired a little early and I just tried to keep up.
“That made me tight off so when I tried to save it from pushing into the wall, I missed a shift.”
That eventually allowed Wes Griffith to move into second place, an impressive recovery from two early race spins.
“Well, I think I pretty much used up all my stuff coming from the back twice,” Griffith said.
Baby Ratler 125 Results
- Bubba Pollard
- Weston Griffith Jr
- Stephen Nasse
- Dylan Fetcho
- Justin South
- Colin Allman
- Rafe Slate
- Jett Noland
- Jordan McCallum
- Daniel Dye
- Steve Dorer
- Harrison Halder
- Brandon Curren
- Josh Adkins
- Jeff Dawkins
- Ryan Paul
- Korey Ruble
- Kyle Plott
- Willie Allen
- Dawson Fletcher
- Ken Pettis
- Stacey Crain
- Cody Brake