Southern Super Series returns to Gulf Coast for two races this weekend

Matt Weaver

The Southern Super Series visits the Gulf Coast for the second time this season with the Pepsi Max 125 presented by Penske Shocks at Five Flags Speedway on Friday and the Great Race 125 presented by Five Star Bodies at Mobile International Speedway on Saturday.

For the second time this season, the Southern Super Series has descended upon the Gulf Coast for a pair of races at Pensacola Five Flags Speedway and Mobile International Speedway, respectively. As usual, there are no shortages of stories entering the weekend and the following post will serve as a guide for those wanting to tune in over the weekend.

Championship battle down to three?

While a case could be made for the top-five in the Southern Super Series standings, the championship battle appears to have become a three-team battle between Bubba Pollard, Daniel Hemric and Augie Grill.

Bubba Pollard has led the standings for most of the season and won races at Nashville and Gresham. Hemric hasn't found victory lane yet but remains just 15 points behind purely on consistency. Third-place Grill has won the most races (Montgomery, Mobile and Montgomery) but has been incredibly inconsistent, namely at Pensacola last month.

Mike Garvey and John Hunter Nemechek complete the top-five but haven't shown the potential to win in bulk (or contend) like the other three.

But one of the most fascinating aspects to the Super Series is the sheer number of points the tour pays, giving out markers for qualifying, halftime breaks and the final race results. So things can change in an instance, especially on a weekend with two races at two completely different tracks.

Current standings:

Bubba Pollard Ldr.

Daniel Hemric -15

Augie Grill -42

Mike Garvey -95

John Hunter Nemechek -125

The maximum number of points given out for a single race is 125.

Car Swap Update

After the last race at Montgomery on June 8, drivers Stephen Nasse and Spencer Davis swapped cars. It was an unprecedented move in the recent history of Late Model racing, designed to learn something that could help out their own programs after the cars were returned.

But the process was complicated a week later when Nasse was hospitalized with pneumonia. He wasn't released until Monday and doctors will not release him to race until the World Crown 300 on July 4.

Davis will also race outside of the Super Series this weekend, competing at the PASS South event at Southern National Motorsports Park. So we will have to wait until the World Crown to speak with both drivers at length.

Battles of attrition

The four Gulf Coast doubleheaders each season are amongst the most difficult in Super Late Model racing, especially when Pensacola comes before Mobile each time. Pensacola is shorter, one grooved and has walls.

As a result, the accidents at Five Flags Speedway are more violent and more final than those at Mobile, with its multiple grooves and a lack of outside retaining walls.

For example, 28 cars started last month's race at Pensacola and only 20 made it to Mobile the very next night, including Ross Kenseth. The son of the 2003 Sprint Cup Series champion got tangled up with Augie Grill and the damage was too much to repair in one night without a backup car -- a common story that could be replicated this weekend.

Johanna Long returns to her roots

NASCAR Nationwide Series regular and former Snowball Derby winner Johanna Long has announced that she will be competing in Friday's Pepsi Max 125 presented by Penske Racing Shocks at her hometown track, Five Flags Speedway.

This will be her second start in the Series after a seventh-place finish on June 1 at Montgomery Motor Speedway. Her next Nationwide Series start will come at Kentucky Speedway next weekend.

Where to watch and listen

Unfortunately, the Southern Super Series is not yet on television (an argument best saved for Snowball Derby week). It's a shame but Speed 51 does provide Trackside Now coverage of each event and will provide a radio broadcast for each race on its website.

So tune in and follow us on Twitter for commentary and analysis. Recaps and photo galleries will be added following each race.

What are your predictions for round two of the Sunoco Gulf Coast Championship Series and rounds seven and eight of the Southern Super Series? Tell us in the comments section.

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