Jake Garcia was the last man standing on an eventful Sunday evening at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, taking home the guitar as the winner of the 2023 North/South Super Late Model Challenge.
Garcia inherited the lead with seven laps to go in the event co-sanctioned by the ASA Southern Super Series and ASA/CRA Super Series, as local favorite Jackson Boone fell out of the race from the top spot due to an issue with his radiator hose. The caution flag flew following Boone’s issue, and Garcia took the lead for good on the ensuing restart for the victory.
“I’ve got to thank Ricky [Turner] and all the guys for such a great car,” said Garcia in victory lane. “I’ve got to thank God for giving me the opportunity to drive race cars. It’s really awesome. I want to thank everybody that’s helped out. I’m really excited about it, and hopefully we can come back to the next one and win again.”
Garcia acknowledged that Boone may have had the car to beat on the evening, but Boone’s bad luck was his good for him.
“I knew he was going to be a car to beat there,” said Garcia. “A little bit of a fortunate break for us, obviously not for him. I felt like we were maintaining and starting to gain a little bit there before he broke. I’m super proud of everybody and hopefully we can get another one this year.”
Boone took the lead on lap 80 of the 100-lap Super Late Model event after a heated battle with Stephen Nasse. For several laps, the two drivers ran side-by-side and traded paint before Boone ultimately prevailed.
“Man, what a heartbreaker,” said Boone. “I had to take five minutes and cry and get over it, but I had those FHR guys behind me. They said ‘Keep your head up and we’ll go redeem ourself in the next one.’ That’s why they’re the best team in the country.”
Boone was not the only driver to have issues while running up front during the event. Michael Hinde lined up on the front row for a lap 43 restart, but suffered a mechanical issue of his own which ended his race. Jake Finch, running in the top five at the time, struck a piece of debris presumably from Hinde’s car, knocking the power steering pump off his car and ending his day early as well.
However, Boone bounced back later in the evening, winning the 100-lap Pro Late Model feature to close out Sunday’s racing program. It featured a similar late-race charge as his near-triumph in the Super Late Model, as Boone took the lead from Hunter Wright with seven laps to go.
“First off, hats off to Hunter Wright and Dawson Sutton. They made it about as difficult as it was to pass. We didn’t have as good of a car tonight as we usually do. We were actually able to save enough to just have enough tire and beat them at the end.”
For ASA/CRA Super Series competitors, their next race is a co-sanctioned event with the ASA STARS National Tour, the Redbud 400 at Anderson Speedway on July 15.
The next stop for the ASA Southern Super Series is Five Flags Speedway on July 21-22 for the PepperJack Kennels Twin 100s.
NORTH/SOUTH SUPER LATE MODEL CHALLENGE RESULTS
-PC Daniel Vining