When the Southern Super Series rolls into New Smyrna Beach, Florida this weekend for the Hart to Heart 100, a win won’t be the only thing on the line. Saturday’s event will also be the Super Late Model points season finale at New Smyrna Speedway, with a veteran and a rising star deadlocked at the top of the standings.
Brad May and Michael Atwell go into race tied for the David Rogers Super Late Model points lead at New Smyrna. Both drivers have completely different career backgrounds – May is a long-time Florida veteran who has won three out of the last four Super Late Model championships at the half-mile, while Atwell has been making a name for himself as one of the top drivers in all of Central Florida.
May has scored three wins so far this year at New Smyrna, having yet to finish outside of the top 10 all season. He will have the chance to win his fourth title, all coming in the last five years.
“We’ve been super happy with the car all year. It’s a big race and you never know what can happen but as far as going into a race, we plan on going there and doing our best and hopefully we win,” May told Speed51. “That’s really the only way to secure it.”
While Atwell has yet to score a win at New Smyrna in 2020, he has finished in the top five in all four points races so far. While the wins haven’t come on the Atlantic coast, he has found victory lane at other tracks in the Sunshine State, winning at 4-17 Southern and Citrus County Speedways.
“We definitely feel confident, we’re tied for the points lead for a good reason. We’ve been running pretty good all year,” Atwell said. “We’re going against a guy in Brad May who’s had a lot of laps at New Smyrna and has a lot of experience. It’s definitely not going to be an easy task to beat him but we’re there to race and we’re there to win.”
This will be the first Super Late Model race held at New Smyrna since the Clyde Hart Memorial on August 27 due to a rainout just over a month ago. It really threw a wrench into May’s potential plans for this weekend’s finale, with the Florida Governor’s Cup also not far off.
Both drivers ran last year’s Southern Super Series-sanctioned Hart to Heart 100, with May finishing 15th in the event. With stiff outside competition coming in the form of series regulars, it adds a new challenge along with chasing after the points championship.
“We rained out the last one or two weekly races, I had really hoped to try some different setup stuff during some weekly races to prepare for this race,” May said. “We didn’t get a chance to do that so it’s kind of a bit of a gamble. Our big goal is to try to win the race, win the championship and get ready for the Governor’s Cup a couple weeks after.
“I hate that the points factor, it takes up a little bit of my thoughts because it’s still in the back of my mind that we need to finish well and not fall out and go with a little bit conservative with my normal setup instead of trying something new and learning something.”
Running the full schedule at New Smyrna was in the books for Atwell after he admitted struggling at the facility throughout his career. He was the higher finisher of the two in last year’s Hart to Heart 100, finishing seventh in the 100-lap event after starting 15th.
He also echoes May’s sentiment in wanting to run well in front of the home crowd against the invaders.
“This year we’ve been going to New Smyrna more since we’re running for the points and we’re trying to get better at that track, we’ve struggled coming into the season. A lot of great guys coming in definitely makes it more fun because we’re competing against a lot of the top guys along the South and the East Coast, but also it makes you want to work harder because if you get the win, it makes it even more impressive.”
The objective for both May and Atwell is simple – beat the other driver. Atwell would love nothing more than to add a championship to his growing list of accomplishments at a track that has seen him struggle up to this point.
“It would definitely be great to add to the resume. New Smyrna’s a NASCAR Home Track so that would be great to add, but also be good just to show that at a track we’ve struggled at in the past, we were able to work our butts off and make the car fast enough to where we could win the championship.”
For May, he can add another title to his growing legacy at New Smyrna Speedway. He can also give another championship to car owner Bobby Sears, a long-time fixture at the half-mile with multiple titles as both a driver and a car owner.
“Every year, we try to go out and be consistent and get another championship for Bobby Sears Racing. He’s won so many over the years and probably means as much or more to him as it does to me,” May stated. “I was never a big points racer growing up and getting started, I’d pick some of the best races and try to do it as we could afford it so I wasn’t able to points race. It’s something that he’s always been to and with having all the championships he’s won over the years with different drivers and himself driving, I know it’s super important to him.”
Stay tuned to Speed51.TV for broadcast information regarding Saturday night’s Southern Super Series Hart to Heart 100 at New Smyrna Speedway.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo