Friday’s schedule at The Rattler was reserved for practice, a chance for the Pro Late Models and Southern Super Series Super Late Models to dial in their cars at South Alabama Speedway (AL) in advance of the 12th annual Pro Late Model Baby Rattler and the 41st annual Super Late Model Rattler 250.
Race fans can find a full list of news and notes from Friday’s practice in the notebook below. Both days of racing action, beginning Saturday with qualifying, can be viewed via a live pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com
Garrett Jones Paces Field: Garrett Jones came out swinging by leading both the first and last sessions of practice, as well as taking the top spot overall with a fast time of 15.037 seconds.
After displaying speed throughout the day, Jones is excited about the weekend in Kinston, Alabama.
“I like the car a lot. We found a lot of speed in our qualifying trim and our race trim is just about the same,” Jones, an underdog heading into the weekend, told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I don’t think we really need to change anything and we have a set of sticker tires left for tomorrow.”
David Gilliand Racing Shows Speed in Both Divisions
David Gilliland Racing Suuper Late Model drivers Chase Purdy and defending CARS Tour champion Raphael Lessard both had speed in practice, along with Baby Rattler rookie Giovanni Bromante.
Raphael Lessard ran a fast lap of 15.281 seconds and was optimistic about his chances in his first trip to South Alabama Speedway for Rattler weekend. But a possible engine issue lingers for the Canadian teenager as he prepares for Saturday’s qualifying.
“It’s pretty good but we are having a few engine problems so we may change it out. These guys have given me a great Toyota Camry for this weekend.”
After running a fast lap of 15.076 seconds, Purdy was exuberant with his car.
“It’s rare that you get a car this good, but this Bama Buggies/TRD Camry is really good and we have a good shot this weekend, I think,” said the Super Late Model rookie.
Giovanni Bromante, in his first Rattler Weekend appearance, set a top speed of 15.888 seconds and has high hopes for the Baby Rattler.
Bromante was happy with the car, telling Speed51.com, “The car been really consistent all day, I am really looking forward to The Baby Rattler tomorrow.”
Stephen Nasse Shows Promise in SLM And PLM
Stephen Nasse, fresh off the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, came to The Rattler and Baby Rattler in hopes of taking home a pair of trophies. With the two cars he has this weekend, the defending Baby Rattler winner feels that he has a good shot at doing so.
Nasse led the final PLM practice with a time of 15.534 seconds after staying around the top five for most of the day, while on the SLM side he hovered around the top five with times in the 15.2-15.5 second range, nonetheless, Nasse appeared happy at the end of the day.
“This SLM is the best shot we have had at The Rattler,” he said confidently. “We came and practiced yesterday and we just got better today.”
Nasse is also confident in his Pro Late Model car as he looks to go back to back in the Baby Rattler 125 Saturday night.
“We have a lot of hopes for our PLM. It’s kind of the same deal as the SLM; it just feels really good and we were fastest in final practice.”
Choquette Speedy on Friday
Jeff Choquette showed promises in both Late Model divisions as well, maintaining a top-10 spot most of the day in SLM, while also having the best time in the third practice session for the PLMs with a time of 15.795 seconds.
When talking about his Pro Late Model, Choquette told Speed51.com, “We really hit on some stuff late with the PLM in the last practice.”
The Super Late Model that Choquette will be piloting this weekend is a brand-new Fury Race Cars chassis for the 2017 season. It is the same car that the Jett Motorsports team shook down and won the final 100-lap SLM race with during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing last month at New Smyrna Speedway (FL).
“The last practice we went out on 40-lap old tires and ran the same lap times as we did with sticker tires,” Choquette explained. “We are excited about that because it makes us think the track got a little better after all those sessions.”
Harrison Burton Looks for More Speed
Harrison Burton, fresh off a World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing SLM championship, comes to South Alabama looking to add another big victory to his resume. In order to do so and hold the Rattlesnake in Victory Lane on Sunday, the second-generation racer will need to find a tad more speed than he had on Friday.
After not finishing in the top five in any practice session, sans a fourth-place in the final session, Burton will be seeking improvement in Saturday’s practice session ahead of qualifying that evening.
The Speedfest 200 SLM winner is considered among one of the favorites heading into the weekend, and why shouldn’t he be? Burton is on a roll this year, but for that roll to continue Burton and his team will be seeking more speed after a lap of 15.170 was the fastest the team could muster during any of the four practice sessions Friday afternoon.
For more on all the action on practice day, race fans can view a replay of the Trackside Now coverage featuring all the great pictures and information from the day.
-By Reese Nobles, Speed51.com Mid-Atlantic Correspondent – Twitter: @RNoblesSpeed51