In Friday evening’s practice sessions at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, the favorites throughout the Pro Late Model division showed their stuff on the time charts over the four separate sessions during the day ahead of Sunday’s 100-lap feature. While it was a mixed bag at the top of each session, with four different drivers topping out, it was the local favorite Michael House who turned the day’s fastest lap at 19.049 seconds.
At the end of what turned out to be a sunny but chilly day in the Music City, House gave all the credit to his team and friends.
“I feel pretty good. I think we got a really good package here,” House told Speed51. “I didn’t go out the last two times, it cooled off really good. I’m just really thankful to be here, like to thank my car owner Jonathan Brown for allowing me to do this. A big shout out to my best friend Willie Allen for putting a lot of his time into this deal. It’s cold, so thanks to all my guys for coming and doing this.”
House was so happy with his Pro Late Model, he used it as the benchmark to shoot for when it comes to his Super Late Model for the All American 400.
“It’s definitely tough. I don’t have the Super where I want it now,” he admitted. “I wish the Super is where I had the Pro. But it was pretty good in testing last Tuesday, so I think we’ll be good with both these cars.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a big time Pro Late Model event without Bubba Pollard topping out at least once, and that’s just what the Senoia, GA native did in the day’s third session under the lights.
“It feels pretty good. We just went and worked some bugs out of it and got comfortable,” Pollard said. “We really unloaded pretty good. Very similar to where our Super car is, so all and all a really good day. We’ll see what we got tomorrow when we put some tires on it.”
One key point that Pollard did pick up on was that if qualifying is as cold as the late practice sessions were, every driver is going to have a handful on Saturday.
“Should be fine for qualifying. We just got to see what the weather is going to do,” he said. “If it’s cold it’ll be slick and hard to get a fast run for two laps. But, we’ve got good balance, just got to see what it’s got.”
Earlier in the day, while it was still light out, California star Derek Thorn showed that Campbell Motorsports could wheel a PLM as well as their SLM, topping the day’s first session. It was a showing that the No. 43 camp were more than happy with.
“Mike Keen has done a great job with these things,” Thorn said. “We’re happy with both our cars, both have good speed. Still not sure what we’re looking for on our long-run stuff, practice versus daytime race. It’s tough to get a feel for it, so we’ll take some shots at it for long run stuff.”
For the 100-lap Pro Late Model race, Thorn isn’t sweating the race distance, but he isn’t so much for the All American 400 itself. But, it is the cold that Thorn is also taking notice of.
“Most of our SRL races are 100 or 150 laps, but even with the 400, we just break it up into multiple races. So, we’ll see how it is. Here it’s cold, a lot colder than California.”
As for the last session of the night, it was another Fairgrounds favorite, Cole Williams who ended the day on top. It came more as a relief for Williams and his crew who had to wrangle the No. 46 PLM early in the day.
“The car’s not too bad right now. We just had a bad tire rub the last couple of laps that last run. Overall, the car has been pretty quick. It’s a relief that we have such a fast car because we missed the first two practices for clutch issues. So, to come right out and be up there is pretty good. It gives us confidence heading into tomorrow.”
With not a lot of track time for the No. 46 Pro Late Model and still trying to get used to No. 98 Super Late Model, Williams knows that the early Saturday practice sessions will be big.
“It’s going to be critical for both cars, especially with the sun being out for the practices. It will be interesting to see what these two cars do, and hopefully they’ll be even better.”
Race fans will be able to watch all 500 laps of Late Model racing Sunday afternoon on Speed51. Visit www.speed51.com/allamerican400 to purchase your video ticket today.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51 / Kyler Hope