After Mother Nature has wreaked havoc over Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN) over the course of the year, the second race of the Pro Late Model season will hit the historic 5/8ths mile on Saturday night. The race promises to deliver on star talent, with the last five Pro Late Model track champions all entered for the 100-lap race
Defending Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville champion Michael House called into Speed51.com’s The Morning Bullring Presented by Hyperco to talk about his championship from last season and to preview Saturday night. House has spent the season racing throughout the southeast, coming off a 14th-place finish after an early exit in his most recent Pro Late Model race at Five Flags Speedway (FL).
“I’m fortunate to be able to race every week now,” House told Speed51.com’s The Morning Bullring. “We were at Five Flags last week and we’ll be at Nashville this week and we’re hoping for a good run. I’d race every night if I could. It’s like every time we show up there this year, it’s raining. Even when CRA came for the tri-sanctioned Super race earlier, it rained. It’s really fortunate to race there.”
The Murfreesboro, Tennessee native won four races on his way to the track championship one year ago. Winning a championship at the famed racetrack was special to him. With a storied history dating back to 1904 and childhood memories, the championship is something he will forever cherish.
“It’s the history there,” explained House. “You look at so many people who has come there and been successful, the Sterling (Marlin)s and the Mike Alexanders, and let’s not forget Willie Allen. He’s helped me a lot there, and just everybody that’s come there and raced there, Earnhardts and just everybody, it’s all the history.
“I can remember me and my dad going down there as a kid,” he continued. “To look back on the good times there as a kid and to now be a champion, I just can’t put it into words how much it means to me and everybody that helps me, how much it means to us.”
House will have stiff competition in the form of three other former track champions. In fact, champions from the past five years will converge together for Saturday night’s 100-lapper. House will be joined by 2017 champion Casey Roderick, and two-time track champions Cole Williams and Willie Allen.
All three drivers noted the history of the track as to what makes their championships special to them. Roderick had a strong year in 2017 with three track championships, which included the title at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville. The Lawrenceville, Georgia native considers Nashville to be one of his favorite tracks.
“It’s an important place with a lot of history,” Roderick said. “A lot of big names have won there over the years and it’s definitely an honor to have my name included with all that. It’s one of my favorite tracks to go to, it promotes a lot of good racing. It’s a real racey racetrack with a lot of character to it. It’s just one of those racetracks you go to that you have a lot of fun at, luckily I’ve had a lot of success there.”
Williams first won the Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville track championship in 2014 as an 18-year-old. After a runner-up in his sophomore season at the 5/8ths mile, the Borden, IN driver added another championship in 2016 with five wins in seven races. He is currently chasing after championships at Nashville and Lebanon-I-44 Speedway in Missouri, where he has won a championship in 2013.
“It’s actually surreal to imagine something like that,” Williams said about being a two-time champion. “Our goal was to win at least one championship somewhere down the road, but to already be a two-time champion is just a true privilege, especially with the different champions that’s came through Nashville Fairgrounds. It’s got a lot of history behind it and to be able to do it means a lot.”
Meanwhile, Allen has been competing at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville longer than any of the other three drivers. The Bon Aqua, Tennessee driver’s first championship came in 2006 in a Late Model Stock when the track was NASCAR sanctioned under the name Music City Motorplex. Nine years later, he traded wins with Williams throughout the 2015 season to win his first Pro Late Model championship.
“It means a lot, there’s been so many great drivers and legends coming from the Nashville area,” Allen said. “To be on that list is a pretty cool deal. Darrell Waltrip, Sterling Marlin, and all those guys, just to be on a list with some of the greats is definitely a cool deal for sure.”
All four drivers have immense respect for each other as competitors. They acknowledged Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville will be a difficult place to visit at the end of 100 laps on Saturday night.
“I think Michael and Willie will be tough,” Roderick said. “They’re usually pretty tough there. Sometimes Willie’s hit or miss, but I feel like he’ll be pretty good.”
“I think all three of them are going to be really hard to beat,” Williams stated. “It seems like every single one of them have a shot at winning every time they come there, so I definitely think all them are going to have really good cars and we’ll have to have our stuff really good throughout the weekend.”
Williams would go on to talk about the competition level at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville as a whole. He considers the track one of the hardest places in all of Pro Late Model racing to earn a win at.
“That’s the thing about Nashville, not just those three but everybody’s pretty tough there,” he continued. “I consider Nashville as one of the most competitive Pro Late Model fields around. It’s going to be a tough one, I think there’s going to be a lot of tough cars, looking at the past couple races, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Allen believes the defending track champion will prove to be the biggest threat on Saturday night, but says any of his three fellow former champions are capable of taking the checkered flag.
“All three of those guys are definitely capable of winning, they’re good drivers and run fast,” Allen said. “The one who has been fastest there, it seems like lately it’s been Michael House coming off his championship last year. He ran really good at all the races last year and anytime he’s on the track, he’s always fast and has speed.”
Saturday’s Pro Late Model race at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville will be livestreamed as part of Summer Thunder TV. For more information, click here: https://speed51.com/summer-thunder-tv-returns-with-nearly-70-short-track-races/
For more information about Saturday’s race at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, visit www.fairgroundsspeedwaynashville.com.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo