Colby Howard started from the pole for the 2019 Show Me the Money Series finale at Montgomery Motor Speedway with sights set on a win and a championship. After dropping back early and playing a little strategy, he retook the lead in the closing stages to take the checkers one spot ahead of eventual champion Augie Grill to close out the season.
Ryan Herbert stole the show early as he cleared Howard for the lead and opened up close to a 5 second advantage while leading more than half the race.
"I knew (Herbert) was going pretty hard." Howard told Speed51. "They were on the radio just telling me to let him go so that's what we did and he started coming back to us."
In a race that went flag-to-flag in just over 34 minutes, strategy was key for the South Carolina driver.
"I got back around (Herbert) and then Augie was coming. This track is kind of hit or miss with green flag runs. I kind of thought we'd have a 20 lap caution and we didn't. I was saving my tires no matter what so even if we did have a caution I think we would've been alright."
While Howard was able to drop back into second to save his equipment, Grill started eighth and worked his way comfortably into the mix before having the opportunity to try and save a little something for the end.
"I really thought as the race progressed there that we had a chance. I wasn't running hard behind (Howard) I was maintaining with him. He was obviously running less hard than I was. I used up the right front a little too much and got really tight those last ten to fifteen laps."
Grill's runner-up finish was enough to hold off Howard to capture the 2019 title, although it was evident that a win was truly what he was after.
"I'd rather have that big trophy for the win than the championship but I'll take it."
While Grill's eyes were on the winner's trophy, Howard went into the race hoping to take the title and knew exactly what it would take.
"I calculated (the championship) out and I needed six cars between us. I think it was like lap 10 and he was up to like second or third. I wish I really could have gotten the track championship but we got the win and that's what counts right now."
Newcomber Howie DiSavino was seeing Montgomery Motor Speedway for the first time and followed a similar strategy to the race winner, waiting until the last third of the race to make his moves up through traffic. Driving for veteran racer Willie Allen, DiSavino felt confident going into his first Pro Late Model race at the half-mile.
"I was nervous for qualifying. After qualifying first I felt pretty confident going into the race. Willie (Allen) just told me to go out there and make them proud." the Virginia driver told Speed51.
"Unfortunate that we couldn't get first but i'll take a third for just my third time in a straight-rail car and my first time here it's pretty good."
With the race going green throughout and no chance to bunch the field back up, DiSavino never got a shot at the top two.
"We were hoping for a caution but it didn't happen because we had a pretty good car there at the end. We saved tires and had a pretty good car."
Next up for the Virginia driver, after his only Pro Late Model start of the year will be the ARCA Menards Series at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Details for the 2020 Show Me The Money Series as well as the full Montgomery Motor Speedway Schedule are expected to be released in the coming weeks.