Sometimes it really is better to be lucky rather than good. After Saturday night in Montgomery, Donnie Wilson whole-heartedly agrees.
Wilson, who professed to being no better than a “third or fourth-place” car for most of the event, took advantage of a late-race restart stack-up to take home the checkers in the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco Rumble By The River 125 at Montgomery Motor Speedway in Alabama.
“We didn’t have the best car, but we were fast all night,” Wilson said. “I have been in a lot races where I had the bad luck. I was fortunate tonight to be on the good end of bad situation.”
Fifteen-year-old Chandler Smith appeared to be on his way to his first Southern Super Series win until the glass slipper came off with seven laps to go.
Smith jumped out to the lead on the restart, but was unable to get the car up to full song off turn two. The front four rows of cars stacked up behind Smith’s wounded machine, but Wilson and Stephen Nasse were able to changes lanes to the outside, escape the log game and set sail for the final handful of laps.
Over the final circuits, Nasse searched high and low for a way around Wilson, but never could get a large enough run to make a winning pass.
After struggling to find speed in the earlier practice sessions – including being the slowest in the initial session – Nasse’s car came alive during the feature and the Pinellas Park, Florida driver worked his way from his 13th-place starting spot in to contention throughout the event.
“That outside line was just digging,” Nasse said. “I was catching guys by two or three tenths a lap. I really think if it would’ve played out green the whole way, we would’ve won the race. It was a good night, but in the end, it just wasn’t quite enough.”
Smith was forced to settle for 10th at the end of a night where he seemingly was headed to a milestone win. Under the caution prior to the final restart, the young driver said the car didn’t feel right. When the race went green, his night went south.
“It felt weird under the caution, but I though it may have been a tire cycle. We went off to turn one and it just wouldn’t go,” a dejected Smith said following the event. “We definitely had a dominant piece tonight, and should’ve won this race. It is what it is, I guess. We’ll be back.”
However, the night belonged to Donnie Wilson.
Wilson’s win in the Rumble was his seventh career Southern Super Series win of his career, and second in a row at Montgomery. The 2016 SSS champ wrestled home the Black Bear Trophy in last season’s Alabama 200 en route to the series title. The trip to victory lane on Saturday also marked Wilson’s fourth-consecutive year he has won a Southern Super Series event.
Even though he has won in the Alabama capital before, Wilson said the day race doesn’t have much carry over to night-time competition. Mid-race adjustments didn’t have the effect he hoped, but his night still ended in victory lane.
“This place is different at night,” Wilson said. “It loses grip coming off the corners, and that is where we really struggled. We made some changes at the lap-75 break, and it didn’t help. I am very fortunate to win this thing tonight.”
Alabama driver Connor Okrezisk finished third, Derek Scott, Jr. came home fourth and Jeff Choquette rounded out the top five.
The Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco returns to the track on July 28 at Five Flags Speedway, home of the Snowball Derby.
Southern Super Series Rumble by the River 125 Unofficial Results
July 1, 2017 – Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL)
|4||81||Derek Scott, Jr.|