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Event Preview: SRL National Rattler 250

It’s the second largest field ever for the popular spring opener

Event: The 47th Annual Hardee’s Rattler 250 from South Alabama Speedway (AL) will take place on March 17-19th under the sanction of the SRL National for the first time. It will actually be the 43rd time this event has been run. The first season was in 1974 where duel 75-lap features were contested with Dennis Rewis and Phil Wendt the inaugural winners. The event was not contested in 1983, 1987, 1988, and 1991–1993.

Record Purse: The 2023 running of the Rattler 250 will feature a record-breaking purse. $25,000 will be awarded to the winner with $12,500 for second and $6,500 for third. It will pay $1,600 to start with $1,000 going to the Fast Qualifier thanks to RW Race Engines, McGunegill Engine Performance, PME Race Engines, Upchurch Performance, and Peters Racing Engines. A purse of nearly $94,000 will be waiting for the teams at the 4/10th-mile asphalt oval, thanks in part to primary sponsor, Hardee’s. An additional $500 will be paid out to each team that fails to advance to the feature event.

Big Field: 35 Super Late Models are entered for this weekend’s event. It is the most entries since 2015, when 40 competitors appeared. It is the second largest entry in history, according to records found at 12 states and one Canadian Province are represented on the entry. It is led by Florida (12), Wisconsin (5), Georgia (4), California (3), Alabama (2), Indiana (2), and one each from Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, and the Canadian Province of Nova Scotia. A total of 16 drivers will be making their debut in the event.

Previous Winners: Three previous winners of the “Rattler 250” are entered this weekend, representing eight victories. Those include Ty Majeski (2016, 2017, 2020, 2021, 2022), Augie Grill (2007, 2009), and Bubba Pollard (2012). Of the 35 previous winners of the event, only five drivers have been able to win multiple times. Those drivers include Ronnie Sanders (3), Wayne Willard (2), Augie Grill (2), Grant Enfinger (2) and Ty Majeski (5). Two drivers have found their way to Victory Lane in the ‘Baby Rattler 125’ for the Pro Late Models, representing six wins. Those drivers are Bubba Pollard (2009, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2020) and Augie Grill (2012). Previous winners in the SRL National are Ty Majeski and Bubba Pollard.

Double Duty: 14 drivers have entered both the SRL National Rattler 250 and the ASA STARS Tour Sunshine State 200”, which took place on March 13th at Five Flags Speedway (FL). Those drivers include Jeremy Doss, Ty Majeski, Austin Nason, Michael Hinde, Blaine Rocha, Billy Van Meter, Gio Ruggerio, Jake Finch, Hunter Robbins, Bubba Pollard, Timothy Watson, Jett Noland, Tony Elrod, and Dustin Smith.

Double Duty Weekend: In order to extend his three-race win streak at the Rattler 250, Ty Majeski will compete in the both the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway (GA) on Friday night, then the Rattler 250 on Sunday. Majeski is coming off a third-place finish in the Sunshine State 200 for the ASA All-Star Tour. He has not finished worse than sixth in the Truck Series in 2023. In seven Rattler starts, he has five victories, a third and a sixth.

Midwest: The Midwest portion of the country will be well represented at the Ratter. In addition to Majeski, John DeAngelis Jr., Casey Johnson, Johnny Sauter, Billy VanMeter, Justin Mondeik, and Austin Nason are entered. Nason finished third in last year’s event, after leading 50 laps. He feels like the team is ready to pick up a few extra positions after last years’ experience and the team’s improvement on long runs during the 2022 season.

“We just need to be better in the longer run,” Nason speculated about what the team needs to do to win the 47th annual event. “We had short run speed, but I got to tight last year with the long run. I feel like over the last year our long runs got better, so I’m looking forward to getting back down there, and seeing if we can put it all together and get the win.”

Midwest Champion: Three-time and defending ARCA Midwest Tour series champion Casey Johnson will make his first visit to Alabama and South Alabama Speedway this weekend. The four-time Tundra Super Late Model Series champion will be making an infrequent visit to the southland, but he is excited to finally participate in the Rattler.

“The Rattler has always been on our radar to run, and this year we we’re finally able to make it happen,” Johnson stated. “My main sponsor, Joe Hougan, has attended the last few years, and he tells me it’s a great show. So, we wanted to be a part of it. These early races in the south seem to get some good cars from all regions, and it gives us a good chance to see how our program stacks up against some of the best in the country.”

California Kid: Jeremy Doss has not won in his Super Late Model in 2023, but he is one of the hottest drivers entering this weekend’s event. He opened his season with a third in the $25,000-to-win SRL National / Spears Southwest Tour All-Star Showdown 200 at Irwindale Speedway (CA). He is coming off a second place run in the Sunshine State 200 at Five Flags Speedway. He finished off his 2022 championship runner-up season with a win in the Spears SRL Southwest Tour season finale, at Irwindale.

He now heads to Opp, AL with a ton of confidence, hoping to strike, while the iron’s hot.

“Confidence is very high for me, after having a strong start to the season, and our best run at Pensacola”, Doss exclaimed! “It’ll be my first time at the Rattler but I feel like I’ll be able to adapt to the track pretty quickly and contend for the win.”

Bounce Back: Bubba Pollard has had an up and down start to the 2023 season in his Super Late Model.

He won at SpeedFest, at Watermelon Capital Speedway (GA), finished second in the Orange Blossom 100 at New Smyrna Speedway, but finished 11 th at the Southern Super Series Clyde Hart Memorial 100, after a fender brace broke while leading. He finished 20th in the All-Star Showdown 200 at Irwindale Speedway (CA). Saturday, he finished 19th, after contact from another competitor sent him spinning from the lead at Five Flags Speedway. Pollard will look to strike back at the Rattler, a race he has won in the past, but is on a current 10-race winless streak. He finished second in last year’s event, and he will make his 20th start in-a-row at the 4/10-mile facility.

“John and Sandra Dykes, and all of the Dykes family, is why I come back each year”, Pollard explained about his 20th consecutive start. “They are all great people who work very hard to give us a great place to race, and they care about you. It’s a great place to race, and to bring the friends and family. (The track) really makes for some good racing. And obviously, who doesn’t want a snake to show off in the trophy case.”

Defending the Home Turf: While there will be an abundance of teams visiting from outside the area, one driver will be looking to keep the $25,000 in Alabama. That driver is two-time Rattler winner Augie Grill. Grill won the event in 2007 and 2009, while setting fast time on four occasions. Grill’s fortunes in his Super Late Model have been lacking as of late however, but a win in the Pro Late Model at SpeedFest has boosted his confidence, entering one of the highlight events of the season.

“It was a great way to start the year”, Grill explained about his season opening win at Watermelon Capitol Speedway. “Getting a trophy right out of the gate is a great confidence booster for me as a driver. Opp has always been a pretty good track for me, so going there with a little confidence should be great.

“It’s hard to say”, Grill continued regarding his reasons for success at South Alabama Speedway. “I haven’t had a really good car there in a few years, but I still feel like I race pretty good at SAS. It’s a really racy track from a competitor’s standpoint. There is lots of side-by-side action, and it always makes for a fun race.”

STREAMING: All three days of the Rattler 250 weekend will air live for subscribers of RacingAmerica.TV.

Schedule: Friday, March 17th will see the Main Grandstands open at 4:30 PM with local divisions practicing at that time. The drivers meeting for the local divisions will take place at 6:30 PM with racing for the Mini-Cups (20 laps), Mini-Sportsman (20 laps), Cuplites (25 laps), Coyotes (30 laps), and Super Stocks (50 laps) beginning at 7:00 PM.

Saturday finds the Main Grandstands opening at 2:00 PM. The Super Late Models will begin Qualifying at 3:00 PM with the top-24 locked in to the Rattler 250. The Pro Late Models will follow with their top-24 also locked into the feature. The Modifieds will Qualify at 5:15 PM followed by the Last Chance Qualifying races for the Pro Late Models and Super Late Models, with the top six advancing to the Feature Events (if needed). At 6:00 PM the Road Runners will compete for 35 laps followed by the 18th Annual Grasshopper Baby Rattler 125 presented by Rogers-Dabbs Chevrolet and Jr’s Lawnmower Shop for the Pro Late Models. A 50-lap feature for the Modifieds will conclude the evening.

Sunday begins with the Main Grandstands opening at 10:00 AM with a Church Service and a live gospel band from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM. Rattler 250 driver’s will line up on the front stretch at 12:15 PM for the Autograph Session, which runs from 12:45 PM to 1:15 PM. Pre-Race Ceremonies are scheduled for 1:30 PM with the command to “Start Your Engines” for the 47th Annual Hardee’s Ratter 250 at 2:00 PM.

Pre-Entry (as of March 14, 2023)

  1. 1 Steve Dorer, Lakeland, FL
  2. 5J Casey Johnson, Stoughton, WI
  3. 5S Johnny Sauter, Deforest, WI
  4. 7 John DeAngelis, Richfield, WI
  5. 08E Tony Elrod, Lecanto, FL
  6. 08N Nicholas Naugle, Dartmouth, NS, Canada
  7. 9 Hudson Halder, Cumming, GA
  8. 10 George Gorum, Winter Haven, FL
  9. 13 Brayton Laster, Greenwood, IN
  10. 14D Chris Davidson, Taylor Lake Village, TX
  11. 14N Austin Nason, Roscoe, IL
  12. 17N Nick Neri, Palmetto, FL
  13. 17T Zach Telford, Middleton, ID
  14. 18 Hunter Robbins, Pensacola, FL
  15. 20H Harrison Halder, Cumming, GA
  16. 20L Jesse Love, Redwood City, CA
  17. 22 Gio Ruggiero, Seekonk, MA
  18. 23 Billy VanMeter, Indianapolis, IN
  19. 24 Colin Garrett, South Boston, VA
  20. 26P Bubba Pollard, Senoia, GA
  21. 28W Timothy Watson, Panama City, FL
  22. 28D Dusty Williams, Guyton, GA
  23. 29 Hunter Wright, Gladeville, TN
  24. 33 Dustin Smith, Mobile, AL
  25. 37 Michael Goddard, Naples, FL
  26. 44D Jeremy Doss, Upper Lake, CA
  27. 44M Justin Mondeik, Gleason, WI
  28. 50 Jett Noland, Groveland, FL
  29. 51F Jake Finch, Lynn Haven, FL
  30. 55 Michael Atwell, Naples, FL
  31. 67 Colin Allman, Plant City, FL
  32. 69 Michael Hinde, Hernando, FL
  33. 91 Ty Majeski, Neenah, WI
  34. 98 Blaine Rocha, Oakdale, CA
  35. 112 Augie Grill, Hayden, AL

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He also has extensive experience covering NASCAR, IndyCar and Dirt Sprint Cars.

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