Just before the start of the season, Jeremy Pate decided that for the first time in his career, he and his team would run the full Southern Super Series schedule in 2019. That decision has been rewarded on-track, as Pate is near the top of the series standings nearing the end of the campaign.
With three races left to go on the schedule, Pate finds himself running third in the standings and only 35 points out of the lead.
“We got a late start to it,” Pate told Speed51. “This whole deal came about the week of SpeedFest. We struck bills with Larry (Owner of Larry Blount Motorsports) and decided if we wanted to run the full season based on where we were at and if it was a good mix for us.”
The Southern Super Series and the Blizzard Series award a provisional to the champion to have an automatic starting spot in the Snowball Derby. If the champion qualifies into the Snowball Derby, the provisional goes down the list until the next highest driver in the top 10 of the standings does not qualify.
Pate is well on his way to meeting the goal of finishing in the top ten in the Southern Super Series standings, giving himself a shot at a Snowball Derby provisional.
“This is my first time back in a Super Late Model consistently in years,” said Pate. “ If we could end up in the top eight or nine in points, then maybe we could put ourselves in a position where we would be able to run the Derby and call it a building year and go on.”
The Larry Blount Motorsports team sponsored by Cook Electrical is a volunteer team. Pate and team owner Blount both own their individual businesses. The team comes together to get their car ready to race when they are able, in hopes of taking the next step with their program.
“We are trying to make the jump as a team from that middle group into that top group of cars,” said Pate. “It’s a huge commitment compared to what it used to be.”
The team did not know if they were going to be able to make the first event of the Southern Super Series season, the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway. Blount’s main goal was to run all four of the Blizzard Series races. Pate said that the team had the mentality going into the season as if they kept getting further and they were still in it, they would just keep going.
With seven races down in the Southern Super Series and three races left, the top five in points are only separated by 42 points. The Georgia Nationals at Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, GA, the Deep South Cranes 150 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL, and the Hart to Heart 100 at New Smyrna Speedway remain on the schedule to round out the season.
“If we could run just a little bit better these last three races and keep the pressure on, and they make any more mistakes, we are there,” said Pate.
Going into the next race in Cordele, GA, Pate has enjoyed his two past trips to the track. Pate said the biggest thing about running at Watermelon Capital is to still be there at the end of the race. Last year at this race, Pate and Corey Heim ran out of fuel late in the race.
“It seemed like everybody lost their patience,” said Pate. “In those late race restarts, everybody was on top of each other and it tends to ruffle some feathers towards the end.”
As for the rest of the season, Pate said that technology is key and that most drivers have data access to pull down rigs, and that most of the drivers have raced these tracks multiple times. Pate’s biggest goals for the rest of the season are to not tear his car up, to learn their cars, to improve his equipment, and to put his best foot down by the Snowball Derby if not earlier.
“This is our first year running the full schedule with all the tools we need in place,” said Pate. “No matter what, we should definitely improve next year when we come to these places twice.”
Race fans can watch Saturday's Southern Super Series event at Crisp Motorsports Park on Speed51's pay-per-view broadcast. Click here to order your video ticket today.
-Story by: Blaise Dillner, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent - Twitter: @Bullet_Blaise51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo