MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Hunter Robbins enters the weekend's AR Bodies 125 eighth in the Southern Super Series championship standings but looks to improve with a visit to his home track -- Montgomery Motor Speedway.
Robbins has had a lot of success over the years at MMS and a win on Saturday night would be a huge confidence booster for his homegrown operation, spearheaded by Late Model veteran Ronnie Sanders. Robbins is coming off a 15th place finish at Mobile International Speedway but was motivated by qualifying on the outside pole.
The Montgomery-native says he's on the verge of breaking through and challenging for wins, assuming he earns a little bit of luck first, something that could come as early as this week.
Robbins took some time out of his schedule to chat with SB Nation on Thursday night, discussing a variety of topics, including his friendship with Auburn roommate and Late Model rival DJ VanderLey and parity in the new Southern Super Series.
SB Nation: I think the dramatic finish of the SuperSeal 150 at Mobile last year might be your most-remembered memory to most Super Late Model fans in the Southeast. You seemingly came out of nowhere on the last lap, moved Jeff Choquette up the track and lost in on the exit. Do you remember much about that last turn, because you wrecked pretty hard on the frontstretch, right?
(Robbins suffered a concussion due to the accident, a video of the finish can be found here)
Hunter Robbins: That race was a hard one to swallow. I had a great car that night, but didn't show it until the very end. It was yet another time I've finished 2nd in a big race while leading on the last lap - the 2007 Rattler 250 comes to mind.
I was just trying so hard to not wreck Jeff that I ended up wrecking myself, I guess.
SBN: You're running the full Southern Super Series schedule this year and Montgomery visits there twice. Do you feel, having won so many races at your home track, that this is your best chance to sign so far this season?
HR: I love racing at Montgomery in front of my friends and family and everyone else that comes out to support me. I have a lot of laps there and was really hoping to run much better the last time the Super Series was there -- but we just missed the setup.
SBN: Augie Grill won at Mobile International Speedway on Saturday and kind of dominated the last race at Montgomery a month ago. Is he the favorite this weekend or is it Bubba [Pollard] by default?
HR: To me, Augie is the best guy out there for sure. He's someone I've looked up to since I've been in a Late Model. He'll miss it every now and then but when he's on the top of his game, he's pretty tough to beat.
SBN: You qualified on the outside pole at Mobile on Saturday night -- did you hit on something that could translate at Montgomery or was it just a Mobile set-up thing? Where are you at in your preparation right now?
HR: Qualifying on the outside pole at Mobile was a much-needed confidence booster for me. We've had so much bad luck this year that it's had the whole team down -- but we keep working hard week in-and-week-out.
I was hoping for a much better run last Saturday before a fuel pump failure took us out early in the race. Not to mention the night before (at Pensacola) when the driveshaft broke on lap 7. If we could just have a race where something didn't go wrong, we'd be in the top-5 every week and find our way back to victory lane.
Montgomery could provide the turnaround our season needs.
SBN: Talk about your friendship with DJ VanderLey - do you guys ever talk racing outside of the track and has there ever been an accident between the two of you that had to be hashed out back on campus later in the week?
HR: Nah. DJ and I are good friends. We try and help each other out as much as we can whether it's in the classroom or at the race track. We both want to beat the other but understand that we'll both succeed if we help each other out.
We have a little more mutual respect for each other than most. I know how hard he has to work on his equipment every week and he knows how much I have to do the same.
SBN: We're seeing a lot of parity in the Southern Super Series right now. Bubba and Augie are going to win their fair share but Mike Garvey, Daniel Hemric and TJ Reaid have been in the mix too. How close are you to jumping from the top-10 to top-five on a consistent basis?
HR: This is a really tough series. You have to be perfect every night just to finish in the top-five. I think you could take any of those guys and take them around the country and they would be contenders -- and they are all in the Super Series.
Their equipment is second-to-none and they are all really good drivers with really smart people in their pits. My situation with Ronnie Sanders is no different but we just can't seem to find any luck except for the bad
SBN: Lastly, just talk about how cool is it to have an organized Series in the Deep South again. The Super Series has been a neat showcase for the area Late Model drivers, right?
HR: It's been awesome to see the Series doing well so far.
When I first started in Late Models, the Southern All-Stars was a big deal. It was tough to win any of those races, let alone a championship. This series is no different.
I believe the group of guys behind it really love it and are trying to make something successful. If I could change anything, I'd do away with the mandatory tire change during the 10 minute break. It takes away the strategy that could make these races unbelievably exciting at the end. Tires make such a huge difference at every single one of these tracks.
Other than that it's been pretty fun so far.
Saturday night's race is the Southern Super Series 125 Presented by AR Bodies from Montgomery Motor Speedway and will feature live play-by-play by Speed 51. SB Nation will also attend the event, providing content and coverage via the author's Twitter account and short track blog.