The Rumble at the River 125 continues a close points battle.
It’s officially summer and the big fight atmosphere of the season is coming to Montgomery Motor Speedway in the form of the Southern Super Series Rumble by the River.
Just 13 points separate Bubba Pollard and Stephen Nasse in the season long championship campaign. Hunter Robbins (-30), Jake Garcia (-93), Matthew Craig (-95) and Jackson Boone (-95) are each within the 100-point realistic championship threat range with six races remaining but will need a little help.
Of course, it could simply come down to another Pollard - Nasse slugfest even before either of them earns the boxing glove trophies awarded to the winner of the annual summer points race at the Alabama capital.
Or, Pollard could simply crash out of the Money in the Bank at Berlin on Thursday night which would preclude him from defending his points lead at Montgomery … not that anyone wants that outcome.
"Yeah, we're doing Montgomery if we can get out of here clean," Pollard said. "We'll stop by the house, hopefully do some maintenance and at least start there for the points. The plan is to race."
Nasse, of course, is looking forward to a competitive race with Pollard and the rest of the full-timers deep into the summer and early autumn months in the deepest Southern Super Series championship battle since the inaugural seasons in 2013 and 2014.
It’s been a turbulent spring for Nasse, who parted ways with crew chief Chris Cater in April and re-joined Jett Motorsports with his dad calling the shots as crew chief.
"Well, we're setting up the car and doing all the maintenance work at the shop; Jett is producing the team to work on the car at the track," Nasse said. "My dad has been itching to be the crew chief for quite a while now and thinks he can do it so that's what we're working with right now.
"It's a learning curve but I'm not going to get these years back with my dad and he thinks he can do it. I know I can drive the race car and get the best finish with it so I hope it clicks and can be a really special Victory Lane if we can pull it off."
In his own words, Nasse struggled to a second-place finish on Saturday in the CRA Laurel Highlands 150 at Jennerstown Speedway to Kyle Crump.
"We really struggled with the setup all weekend," Nasse said. "I couldn't really get the car on the left front the way it needed to be. I didn't have the feel on both left sides. We're going through some changes right now but we're working really hard. Not just the cars we want to produce and getting lucky.
"So hopefully, going back to Montgomery, a track I like and am really familiar with, find some speed. We've always struggled at Jennerstown and Nashville is a place I feel I've been hit or miss at. So hopefully we go there and contend and not back into one, but I'll be honest, I'll take them wherever I can get them at this point. There are some races I've given away so maybe some can be given back to me."
To do so, he will have to get through Pollard, Robbins, Garcia and a host of other former winners at Montgomery.
One of the most memorable Southern Super Series battles at Montgomery came in 2013 when Pollard and Augie Grill battled side-by-side for almost half the race.
"That place is a lot of fun when that second groove comes in and you can race," Pollard said. "It’s fast and a lot of fun to get around when you have a couple of really good cars racing up front."
A sleeper pick for the weekend might be Alabama 200 Hunter Robbins, who also added a second 100 lap win at Montgomery in the Show Me the Money Series. A third win came last month in a Pro Late Model at Pensacola.
"So far we’ve been really consistent for the most part," said Robbins. "We’ve been right there consistently in the top five and you have to really do that before you can win. So, we have accomplished that much but now we have to find that little bit more that we need so that we can find our way into Victory Lane."
The biggest goal, however, is breaking through in the Super Late Model.
"The track drives pretty similarly for both cars," Robbins added. "We’ve been working pretty hard, so I won’t say we’re shocked to have a few wins there already this year. But at the same time, it seems surreal that it finally has happened the way that we planned it. I’ve learned a lot of little tricks lately setup-wise and driving-wise. So if we can unload well on Friday I think we’ll be really good."
CURRENT CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (6/12 Races):
Stephen Nasse -13
Hunter Robbins -30
Jett Noland -91
Jake Garcia -93
Matt Craig -95
Jackson Boone -95
Daniel Dye -103
Michael Hinde -103
Blaine Rocha -109
PARTIAL ENTRY LIST (More to come)
Bubba Pollard Kyle Plott Connor Okrzesik Matt Craig Jake Finch Jackson Boone Jake Garcia Michael Hinde Hunter Robbins Jett Noland Stephen Nasse
-Story by Matt Weaver for Racing America