Mike Garvey hasn’t visited victory lane yet this season in the Sunoco Southern Super Series but he’s largely enjoyed racing in the start-up league that was created this year to provide tour racing to Super Late Model drivers in the Southeast.
Like any start-up, Garvey says the Series has some flaws and the most pressing one is the lack of clear leader.
The Series is currently composed of five tracks (Pensacola Five Flags, Mobile, Gresham, Montgomery and Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville) with each track promoter working with their counterparts as a sort of board on the tour.
The four promoters (Pensacola and Mobile share the same promoter) agree on a shared set of rules and championship points are added up for all 16 planned races on the schedule. Garvey would prefer to see just one leader moving forward.
“The one thing I would change is the leadership structure,” Garvey told SB Nation over the weekend. “I wish there was one clear person to talk to when we had questions or concerns — a lot like NASCAR teams have with France, Helton and Pemberton.
“Sure, we have Ricky (Brooks, technical director) when it comes to tech questions but I’m talking about the Series as a whole.”
Beyond that, Garvey feels the Southern Super Series has been good for drivers in the region and hopes to remain a part of it in the years to come.
“The same drivers are running these same tracks every year so it just made a lot of sense to come together and pull in the same direction,” Garvey said. “The drivers here are some of the best and we love going to these tracks — it’s been a lot of fun to chase a championship this year.”
The tour is the spiritual successor to the former All Pro Series (NASCAR Southeast Tour) that was popular in the 1990s. Garvey himself is the 1990 NASCAR All-American Series which was merged into the All-Pro Series in 1991.
Garvey hasn’t enjoyed that kind of success this year but he’s getting closer. He’s fourth in the championship standings, 234 points behind leader Bubba Pollard but a fourth-place in the Alabama 200 on August 24 has him feeling confident about the remaining three races.
He has numerous wins at Pensacola, Mobile and in the All-American 400 at Nashville and hopes to finish this first season on a high note, even if he’s out of the championship hunt.
“We definitely got off to a slow start this season,” Garvey said. “But we’ve slowly started to turn it around and make progress and that shows in our results. The only concern we have now is that we’re running out of races.
“We lost two (at Mobile and Gresham) because of rain and I’m just disappointed that we won’t get to show all of our improvements because of the lack of races.”
But one race remains this season that Garvey places a value on above all others — the Snowball Derby in Pensacola. The Minnesota native moved to Pensacola last year, near car owner Tracy Goodson’s shop with the intent to win that race.
Despite a successful career that has spanned Late Models and NASCAR national touring, Garvey has yet to score a win in the “Super Bowl of Late Model Racing.
“That’s a big one, obviously,” Garvey said. “I thought we had the car last year before the crash happened to take us out. That’s a big focus of our season and I still feel pretty good that we’re going to bring a car to the race this year that can get it done.”
His best finish in the race came in 1994 when he finished fourth but has finished no better than 12th in seven results since. In his 11 overall starts, Garvey has eight results worse than 25th, most of them due to accidents out of his control.
So it could be argued that all the bad luck is out of the way, leaving Garvey poised to pick up his first win in the event. Don’t count him out in the three remaining Southern Super Series events either.