Super Late Model veteran Donnie Wilson entered 2016 with a list of goals and now he’s starting to cross them off with the arrival of autumn.
He crossed two of those objectives off the list on Sunday with a Southern Super Series championship-clinching victory in the historic Alabama 200 at the Montgomery Motor Speedway. Wilson was visibly emotional in Victory Lane and admitted he was fighting back tears.
“We’ve just put a lot of work into this,” Wilson told Short Track Scene on Sunday night. “We met our goal. It was special. We’ve put our heart and soul into it. My dad funds this and I’m lucky to be able to drive these cars. This is something we do as a family and this is what we wanted to accomplish as a family and team.”
Wilson has supported the Southern Super Series since its inception in 2013. He’s contended for the championship every season but came short each time for a variety of reasons. He endured terrible misfortune with crashes and parts failures in 2014. He missed a race in 2015 due to an ill-timed rain out and just narrowly fell short as a result.
But he really wanted the championship.
Unfortunately, Wilson was one of only a handful of drivers that participated full-time on the tour in 2016, joining Chris Davidson and Kenzie Ruston. In fact, he actually clinched the championship with a race still remaining in two weeks at Five Flags Speedway.
“I wish some of the others had run all year too,” Wilson said. “But we did and we won it. We’ve supported the series the past four years and this isn’t just the Southern Super Series. The CRA and CARS Tour has endured some fall-off too.
“But these series are still very competitive. There’s some new teams moving up into these cars and these races are still very hard to win even if the economy is stopping some from coming out every time.”
To his point, he’s had a very good season with two wins and top-10s in all but two races on the southern schedule. That’s been against some stout one-off competition which includes the likes of Kyle Busch Motorsports, David Gilliland Racing and Bond Suss Racing.
But Sunday wasn’t the end of Wilson’s checklist but rather the beginning. The arrival of autumn signals the start of ‘Major Season’ with the All-American 400, Winchester 400 and Snowball Derby still remaining on the Super Late Model campaign.
These are some of the biggest races in the discipline and Wilson believes he can add those crowns to his Alabama 200 Black Bear trophy.
“I think we’re going to be competitive in each of them,” Wilson said. “We’re still chasing that first win at Pensacola but we’re close. We won at Nashville earlier in the year and we’re always decent at Winchester so I feel really confident about those races.
“We should be top-5 off the truck. I feel that good about the direction of our cars. We should be in the mix.”
Wilson can now call himself a champion but that’s not even close to enough. He still has some things to cross off that year-long checklist.