Josh Brock scored a statement victory Sunday at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN), holding off former All-American 400 winner Donnie Wilson to take the checkered flag in the North/South Super Late Model Challenge 100.
Brock picked up the win against a field of some of the best Super Late Model racers in the country in an event tri-sanctioned by the ARCA/CRA Super Series, the CARS Super Late Model Tour and the Southern Super Series.
That made the win for the defending ARCA/CRA Super Series champion that much sweeter, snapping a streak of Southern Super Series dominance in the event.
The finish was the culmination of a race-long battle between Brock and Wilson, with Brock holding off the Oklahoma veteran for the checkered flag.
“When you come to a race like this with the three main series, you’ve got to come into this knowing you’re going against the best, and he is one of the best,” Brock told Speed51. “I hope it really opened up some eyes to people, to show how strong we really are. There are some places we haven’t performed like we should, but this is one hell of a way to start out the season.”
The win also carries the significance of coming at Nashville, one of the historic and prestigious venues in short track racing. It’s a place where Brock has always run well, finishing in the top-five every time he has been to the high-banked oval with the ARCA/CRA Super Series.
Now, he can say he is a winner at Nashville, complete with the signature guitar trophy to add to his collection.
“This is amazing,” said Brock. “I have finished second, third and fifth every time I’ve come here. I’ve raced here for eight years. I can’t wait to get home and really soak this in.
“This is Nashville,” Brock added. “The legends have raced here, the legends have walked across this stage. It’s absolutely awesome.”
Wilson felt his car was on-par with Brock’s, but needed better restarts to have a shot at the win in his first race with his new Rowdy Manufacturing car.
“We were pretty Even-Steven,” said Wilson. “He was better on the restarts than I was, and that’s my fault. I just needed a tighter race car to get off the corners. I was better in, he was better off.
“First weekend with the new race car, we didn’t get much practice with it,” Wilson added. “Friday we had a couple of little gremlins we had to work through, but all in all a great weekend.“
While Brock and Wilson had battled for the lead for the duration of the 100-lap event, but a restart with eight laps to go following an incident with Scotty Tomasik brought Matt Craig into the picture.
Craig briefly challenged for the lead on the restart, but ultimately settled for a third-place finish.
“On the restart, my car fired off, but it fired off for two corners, maybe a whole lap, said Craig. “It started getting free again, I used all my good up in one or two and got a nose on them. I went into three and four and got loose again. It was a really good piece Rowdy Manufacturing built. We just built a little notebook, come back for the [All-American] 400. We’re really pleased with it.”
Three-time ARCA/CRA Super Series champion Johnny VanDoorn finished fourth, while defending CARS Tour title-holder Jared Fryar rounded out the top five. During post-race ceremonies, with the top-five finishers lined up on the frontstretch, Craig noted the impressive resumes of all five drivers.
“All these guys here have won a Late Model championship of some sort,” said Craig. “It’s definitely very good competition here this weekend. I’m very happy to run third.”
It was that caliber of a field that made Brock’s win so special. Brock was quick in victory lane to thank all three sanctioning bodies for working together and producing a marquee event with a strong field of cars.
“Today was a hell of a statement,” said Brock. “I want to thank the series for working together. At this time in short track racing, we need everyone working together, race tracks, promoters, race teams. I know everyone has their opinions, but we’ve got to work together and this is a prime example.
“We want every seat sold out,” Brock added. “We want 140 cars. Those days are gone, but we need to adapt to different things. Working together, they put on a great show. We almost had 40 Super Late Models, and the guy that finished dead last is great somewhere. There are no start-and-park guys. These are all great, great race cars that took the green flag.”