Only two drivers have finished in the top-five in all three Blizzard Series races so far in 2020. The first driver is Bubba Pollard, who has won two of the three events. The other driver is Jeremy Pate, who enters Saturday’s Blizzard finale as the Southern Super Series points leader.
The Pensacola native has a third and two fourths to his credit in those three races, which has also kept him in the Blizzard Series title picture going into Saturday. Entering the 150-lap finale, he sits just 15 points back of Pollard and six back from current runner-up Stephen Nasse.
Pate and Larry Blount Motorsports have been able to remain in points contention in both the Blizzard and Southern Super Series’ even with one of the smallest fleets in the series, thanks in part to a new alliance formed with Jett Motorsports earlier this year.
“Towards the end of last year, we got some newer equipment. A new Fury Race Car from the Jett’s and we got some setup help from them,” Pate said on Speed51’s The Bullring. “They helped us this year getting some baselines at different places and it’s picked up our program a lot. We still have to play with a business mentality when we get to the racetrack, we don’t have a big fleet so we have to take care of it.
“So far one car, one body, one motor, one rear end just chugging along through these races. After Bristol, any of the top-four can win it and possibly the top-five so we’ve got to turn over a more aggressive attitude and try to win these last two.”
Pate currently holds a 13-point edge over Nasse with two races remaining in the 2020 Southern Super Series schedule. In seven races, his worst finish has been a 10th place run in the series’ most recent event at Bristol Motor Speedway.
With a race at his home track and the All American 400 left to close out the Southern Super Series season, Pate feels comfortable with where his team is at.
“We’re coming to Pensacola, which us and Bubba are the only two that have run top-five in all three races. I think we have a real good shot to win this race if it plays out our way. The All American owes us one from a long time ago and I’ve been looking for my chance to get it there. I think we have three real big races coming up that we should have a chance to win all three. We’ve put ourselves on the map now and I think we’re here to stay.”
Pate took over the points lead from Pollard at Bristol, but Pate also lost points to Nasse and Jake Garcia in the process. The top four are separated by just 21 points going into Saturday, while fifth-place driver Connor Okrzesik also sitting within striking distance.
A crown jewel will act as the season finale, but Nashville is the furthest thing from his mind at this time.
“I think how this weekend goes will entail how we approach Nashville. At the same time, while at Bristol trying to ride, the competitors against us were able to be aggressive the entire time and they were able to gain some points there. When we got done with that we had to retool and be aggressive, and I think you’re going to see a more aggressive style from us this weekend.”
His strong finishes in each of the three Blizzard Series races have come after having to start deeper in the field than he would’ve liked. Pate says to expect a different driving style come Saturday as he looks for more room in the standings going into the All American 400.
“We’re going to try to run up front the entire time and stay up there instead of battling. At Pensacola, we’ve had some good finishes but we’ve had to start in the back and we’ve had outside restarts every time. Things haven’t gone our way to get us up there, we just battled the whole time. If we can have a little luck on our side and get out of here with a top-three or possibly a win, it allows you to go into Nashville with a different attitude.”
Even with the points lead, Pate acknowledged that the battle isn’t over until it’s over. He experienced that firsthand in his only previous All American 400 start 15 years ago, where he was leading late until he was caught up in an incident not of his own doing.
This was also the case in the Southern Super Series’ inaugural season back in 2013, when Bubba Pollard entered the season-ending All American 400 with a comfortable lead but would lose the title by a single point after getting caught up in a late wreck.
“This thing is so tight I’ve been telling everybody if we win and have a big lead going into Nashville, we had the All American won back in ’04 or ’05 when Jason Hogan ended up winning it. We had led the most laps and was leading it with 13 to go and a car bounced off the wall and right-reared me and took me out. This thing’s definitely not going to be settled until the last lap at Nashville.”
Fans who are unable to make it to Five Flags Speedway for the Blizzard/Allen Turner PLM Series finales can watch both races live on Speed51.TV. Click here to purchase your PPV ticket today.
Click here to watch a replay of Monday’s episode of “The Bullring.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo