In its 37-year history, the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway has produced 28 different winners including several up-and-coming stars on their way to the top. The premier event of the Kinston, Alabama short track’s season will take the green flag on Sunday, March 16 with several new faces climbing the ladder all competing for the prestigious rattlesnake-themed trophy.
The 38th Annual Rattler 250, March 14-16, will kick off not only the South Alabama Speedway 2014 season but the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco season as well. Senoia, Georgia’s Bubba Pollard, who won the event in 2012 and finished second in SSS standings in 2013, is ready to get rolling with the new season.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” said Pollard. “That place has been good for us over the past several years. Hopefully we can get a good start to the season so we'll have a little momentum coming out of there.”
Pensacola, Florida’s Johanna Long, who has spent the greater part of the past few seasons competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series, is excited to get to South Alabama Speedway, the site of her first late model win, just to get back behind the wheel of her Super Late Model.
“It’s really exciting,” said Long. “I love that racetrack, John (Dykes, owner) does an awesome job at that place; it’s one of my favorite racetracks. I won my first race there and that was definitely an exciting race. It always brings back good memories when I go there.
“We’re working hard getting the car ready right now,” explained Long. “I’m going to run the same car I ran at the (Snowball) Derby. I finished fourth there at South Alabama a couple years ago so hopefully we can rebound there and have another good finish this year.”
For Pollard, finishing second in the Southern Super Series standings in 2013 has given the 26 year-old - whose 27th birthday comes on Rattler 250 race day - nothing but motivation going into the 2014 season.
“The thing about last year was that we had good racecars,” said Pollard. “We should have won a lot more races than we did, I felt like. You’re going to have up and down years and I guess the thing that keeps us going and keeps us motivated is having such good racecars.
“We’ve really worked hard over the off season to try to make our car better with shocks and engines,” said Pollard. “We had to make quite a few changes in the middle of the year last year that kind of hurt us, so this year we’ve got all our ducks in a row and we’re looking forward to it. Hopefully we can just minimize some of the problems that we’ve had in the past.”
Looking forward into 2014 although Long doesn’t have anything inked in NASCAR’s top-three series, she still has her sights set on Nationwide Series success. Until then, the 21-year-old driver will try to get as much late model seat time as possible.
“I’m going to try to be in a racecar as much as possible this year,” said Long. “I don’t care what it is, I just want to be in the seat. Being out of the seat for a while and not knowing what you’re going to do is a struggle, but we’re working hard to get me in a couple Nationwide races this year and hopefully we can make that happen. We’re talking to a lot of different teams - a lot of good teams with a lot of different sponsors, which is nice. But I just want to be in a racecar, so as much late model racing as I can do I’m going to be happy.”
Pollard will once again have former short track standout and NASCAR National Series driver Joey Clanton on top of the box for the No. 26 team. Pollard and Clanton went to victory lane together in 2012 when Pollard won the Rattler 250.
“Joey had some other commitments prior to the weekend so we couldn’t be with us at SpeedFest,” explained Pollard. “But he’ll be with us at the Rattler. He’s got a lot going on with his business and trying to grow it, but he’ll be working with us at all the races he can this year.
“We work well together,” said Pollard. “We won the race together two years ago and hopefully we can do it again. He will be there so we’ll be prepared and hopefully we’ll be in the right position to make the right changes and calls at the end to win us the race.”
Long will take a different route by keeping it in the family with the direction calling the shots on her team, but she echoed Pollard’s confidence in the ability of her leader.
“My dad (2000 Rattler 250 winner, Donald Long) is probably going to be the crew chief because Mike (Williamson, former Pro Late Model driver and Long’s brother-in-law) is going to spot for me,” said Long. “So Dad is going to be calling the shots, which will be good. Working with Dad is always fun because he’s won the Rattler there. He’s actually won that trophy. That’s one trophy that I don’t have that he has.”
The 38th Annual Hardee’s Rattler 250 weekend will kick off with a practice day on Friday, March 14 followed by practice and qualifying for both the Pro and Super Late Model divisions as well as the 9th Annual Pro Rattler 125 on Saturday, March 15. The 250-lap Southern Super Series main event will take the green flag at 2:00 pm CT on Sunday, March 16.
For more information on the Southern Super Series, visit SouthernSuperSeries.com. The Facebook page for the Southern Super Series is located at www.facebook.com/southernsuperseries and on Twitter it’s @SoSuperSeries. For advertising or sponsorship questions, please contact the track representatives. For media inquiries, please contact Matt Kentfield at 51 Sports via firstname.lastname@example.org.