Catch Me if You Can
The rabbit that all drivers are chasing right now is that of Bubba Pollard and his black No. 26. A mid-season four-race win streak as taken the Senoia, Georgia driver from outside the top 10 in points to the top of the ladder after seven races. Pollard hold series records for wins, poles, laps lead and top fives, but is seeking his first title in 2014.
The 26 team is seeking only race wins at this point and hope to have a sizable lead when it gets down to crunch time. Pollard has erased the memory of last year’s title that slipped through his fingers in the closing laps at the All American 400. Pollard dominated all season a year ago, but it seems now as if they team is getting better each time out.
The Law Firm
The fact that Donnie Wilson is 65 points back is very impressive considering that he missed the Rattler 250 at the beginning of the year. The team, made up of Wilson, crew chief and short track legend Butch Miller and longtime head wrench Troy Smith have earned the nickname of “The Law Firm.” Wilson, Smith and Miller have been hitting the books and are contenders each and every week. After six races they have six top fives and an average finish of 2.16 which includes wins at Nashville and Mobile. Perhaps the missing of one race is good motivation to not think about points, but simply put Wilson and the “The Law Firm” are the most improved team from 2013 to 2014.
No Sophomore Slump
Anderson Bowen is gearing up for a big second half as he has shown that he is a title contender. Bowen is yet to win in the Southern Super Series, but his consistent ways have him sitting second in the standings after seven races. Six top fives and four of those on the podium have the young driver from Suwanee, Georgia as confident as ever for the second half of the season.
Rotation of the Fastest
Six faces in seven races is the story in the qualifying department. Bubba Pollard set fast time a record nine times a season ago, but now he’s got a lot of fast qualifying company. Pollard has two and those who have one include Chase Elliott, Casey Smith, Augie Grill, John Hunter Nemechek and most recently Hunter Robbins. Points are awarded for qualifying and the 15 points for the pole kept Pollard in the hunt a year ago after some sub-par finishes.
North Carolinian Kyle Grissom switched to the Southern Super Series in 2014 to battle with the best-of-the-best in the Southeast. Grissom has done just that all season long. Sitting sixth in points, the 2012 PASS South champion only has one finish outside the top 10 all year long. He also posted a fourth at the Rattler 250 at the beginning of the year. Grissom needs only to turn his top 10’s into top fives and he’ll move up the ladder. There is a lot of fight in this team with former Nationwide Series champion and father Steve Grissom leading the team along with crew chief Alex Query. Things are just starting to brew right as we hit the halfway mark of the season.
A Sleeper, Really?
If you didn’t think Augie Grill was serious about winning a championship then you might have changed after Mobile. Grill had an exhaust problem that had to be fixed after time trials, but the crew refused to pull out after qualifying to avoid losing points. They opted to go from the rear and they finished third. That type of rebound might offset the DQ he had at Mobile last season that ended his championship run.
Grill himself will tell you that the 112 is just a tick off right now, but if he can put a band aid over things and start collecting wins then he will be a major contender down the stretch. He’s also not won in 2014 so that just means the clock is ticking.
Time to Rebound
Casey Smith went from tied for the point lead to over 100 points back after missing the last race at Mobile. Smith can now focus on just getting to victory lane. Smith is one of the six different drivers to set fast time this year. The new combination with Port City Racecars has made him a contender again. He said at South Alabama in March that learning the tire was key and he was getting it done before a race-ending wreck at Five Flags.
A Strong Second Half
Many feel a strong second-half of the season for Daniel Hemric is in the cards. Hemric, the 2013 Southern Super Series champion, is winless after the first seven races. This is no surprise as he only visited victory lane twice a year ago and beat the rest of the series by finishing almost all the laps and racking up top 10’s in every single start. To date, Hemric has run 20 races and has 18 top-10 finishes, which is the most in the series. He maybe behind a bit right now, but if the other step off their game then the 98 Carswell team will be right there looking for title number two.
Waiting in the Wings
Who will be the second half shocker? We can expect one driver to come in and mix things up in the late stages. A year ago the honor went to Chase Elliott who captured both the Alabama 200 and the All American 400. We’ll have to wait and see if a driver can pull off this feat at season’s end.
Wild Cards: Extra Distance Shows
In addition to the normal distance races left on the schedule there are three extra distance shows that await the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco. In order they are the 31st annual World Crown 300 at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Georgia, the 50th running of the Alabama 200 at Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL) and the season finale at 30th annual All American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN).
All three races could have major implications on the season-long championship. A total of 800 laps will be run over these events.
9 – Number of different race winners in 20 events.
46 – Number of different drivers who have scored top 10’s in the Southern Super Series.
55 – Drivers have qualified or attempted to run with the Southern Super Series in 2014.
1043 – Number of laps that Bubba Pollard has led in the series.
2012 – Number of laps the rest of the drivers have led in the series.
$10,000 – Amount of money handed out by the engine builders for the pole awards since the start of 2013. Hamner Racing Engines, McGunegill Engine Performance, Progressive Racing Engines, Ford Racing and RW Racing Engines have combined to present the fast-qualifier a $500 bonus at each SSS event.