We're roughly a third of the way through the inaugural Southern Super Series season and the tour is everything I hoped it could be.
When the five member tracks (Five Flags Speedway, Mobile International Speedway, Gresham Motorsports Park, Montgomery Motor Speedway and Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville) announced the formation of the tour in December at the Snowball Derby, there was a sense of anticipation rarely seen at the Super Late Model level.
If everything went right, the Series had the potential to really maximize interest in the genre across the region. For the first time in several years, each of the major Southeastern tracks are pulling in the same direction, attracting sponsors like Sunoco and really increasing car counts throughout each of the first five races this season.
And even with all the positive vibes, there was still doubt that the tour could maintain interest in a season-long championship. Even at the short track level, a handful of teams tend to dominate races and the concern was that one of them could easily run away with the championship after a handful of races.
So the Series devised a really cool championship format that pays championship points (and cash) for qualifying, halftime breaks and the final race classifications. The end result was a format that has encouraged fierce competition throughout the field for entire races and finishes that leave talking for weeks.
The Super Series has been aided by unforeseen parity too.
When Bubba Pollard won the first two races, there was a concern that the rest of the campaign could be a snoozer. But that hasn't happened with Augie Grill dominating Montgomery and complicating factors stealing wins from the Georgia-native this weekend at Pensacola and Mobile.
Pollard crashed from the lead due to a lap car on Friday and mechanical issues led to Pollard having to rally to finish fourth on Saturday. That's given the Series three different winners in Pollard, Grill and TJ Reaid as well as a surprise title contender in Daniel Hemric who is seemingly due for his first victory of the season any week now.
Pollard enters the first repeat track event of the season (Montgomery) this Saturday night with a seven point lead over Hemric but neither driver can be considered the favorite. At third place in the standings, Grill has that title, having dominated the first race at the Speedway in April.
Should he repeat, the Southern Super Series will have a legitimate three-way championship battle on its hands entering the prestigious World Crown 300 on July 4. Each race has been overly-dramatic and there is a real sense of anything can happen in these races.
The tour was molded after the old All-Pro Series that ran many of these same tracks in the '90s. They had select TV broadcasts and perhaps in time, these will too... but one battle at a time.
Saturday's race is the AR Bodies 125 from Montgomery Motor Speedway and will feature live radio by Speed 51. SB Nation will also attend the event, providing content and coverage via the author's Twitter account.
Have you kept up with the Southern Super Series? If so, what are your thoughts on this popular new tour? Tell us in the comments section below.