The 56th Annual Alabama 200 is set to take place on Saturday, March 7, 2020 at the famous Montgomery Motor Speedway, opening up the 2020 Show Me the Money Pro Late Model season.
As we gear up for Saturday’s race, let’s first take a look back at the 55th running of the “Hunt for the Bear”.
Here is the PixelatedSPEED post race report from March 5, 2019:
MONTGOMERY, Alabama (March 5, 2019) — Augie Grill put the pedal to the metal at Montgomery Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 2nd, racking up his 5th win in the prestigious Alabama 200. Grill bested the two-time, and defending winner, Casey Roderick, and up-and-coming drivers Jackson Boone and Connor Okrzesik but spent much of the race battling Bubba Pollard for the top spot.
“A lot of hard work went into this weekend,” Grill told PixelatedSPEED after the race. “I’ve been working on a few different things on my car for a month leading up to Speedweeks (New Smyrna) and I think I finally hit on something to where it’s good again.”
“We made a few minor changes, but the thing was good since we unloaded and stayed good throughout the whole race, and hopefully it’s a good sign for what’s coming.”
Throughout practice, 2019 SpeedFest winner Connor Okrzesik found himself atop the scoring pylon, but come qualifying it was Georgia hotshoe Bubba Pollard rising to the top of the heap. Pollard was the only driver in the 26 car field to break below the 19 second barrier, with a fast time of 18.969 seconds. The redraw put Grill on the pole, with Roderick and Pollard behind.
The first two thirds in the “Hunt for the Bear” were highlighted by the battle between Grill and Pollard. The race saw multiple cautions, and with each ensuing restart, Grill and Pollard would break away from the pack and battle briefly before Grill would start to pull away.
On lap 162, Pollard fell off the pace, and pulled his machine behind the wall with mechanical failure.
Grill commented, “It was fun racing against Bubba tonight… I wish he would have finished so we could see how we would’ve stacked up in the end.”
Pollard, understandably, had no comment following the race.
After falling back at the start, Casey Roderick and crew took every opportunity available to work on the handling of their car. By race’s end, Roderick found himself on the tail of Grill, and within striking distance of his third straight win. Roderick came up just short of the feat, and although disappointed, was satisfied with the outcome given the night’s struggles.
“It was a serious problem, where the car wouldn’t handle,” said Roderick. “It was a fight from there… disappointed we missed three in a row by just a little bit, but earlier in the race we were way off… I don’t give up, I’m not a quitter, we keep diggin, and we fight back.”
“We made some adjustments when we stopped for fuel … we waited about 20 laps later than everyone else to take tires and it ended up working out okay, but still we just weren’t quite strong enough to get there.”
Jackson Boone scored a podium finish after overcoming an incident on lap 140 involving Ryan Paul and others.
“I got a bad restart and the guys behind me just got under me and lifted my back tires off the ground … I spun my tires, and it was just an accordion effect and we all jumbled up … and somebody just nailed me… it was an intense night there at the end.”
After Pollard’s issues, Boone saw is opportunity.
“We were faster than Bubba and Augie, in my opinion,” he said. “It was like lap 160 and we were just pouncing on them… I was thinking if this thing goes green I can eat them alive, then Bubba fell out and I thought ‘even better’ we have a chance to pounce now.”
Boone was no match for the 20 lap fresher tires of Roderick, but held on to a strong third place.
“It gives me a lot of confidence,” said Boone. “If you look at the car behind me (points to his mangled racecar) and we probably had no left front downforce and we were able to finish the way we were. This team has put together a really good piece and I think we get back to the shop and get it reset and we can take it anywhere. It’s a winning car anywhere we go. We just have to contend, and it gives me a lot of confidence.
After showing a lot of speed in practice, Connor Okrzesik found himself running solidly in the top five all night long, coming away with a forth place result. In a post on his Facebook page, Okrzesik said that he was happy to be one of the 12 cars that finished out of the 26 that started.
In all, this year’s Alabama 200 proved to be a crowd pleaser. The stands were packed, the weather was very mild, and racing was solid. It looks as though putting this race at the front of the schedule as the season opener to the Show Me the Money Pro Late Model Series has proven to be a success.
PixelatedSPEED will have much more from the Alabama 200 weekend, including a recap of the season opening Modifieds of Mayhem event, and look at some of the names deeper in the pack of the Hunt for the Bear, Alabama 200.
1 112 Augie Grill
2 18 Casey Roderick
3 7 Jackson Boone
4 14c Connor Okrzesik
5 43 Justin South
6 11c Dylan Fetcho
7 35 Jake Garcia
8 5 Blaise Rutherford
9 21f Jason Furrow
10 4m Kyle McCallum
11 2d Jeff Dawkins
12 1 Michael House
13 2 John Bolen
14 26 Bubba Pollard
15 84 Martin Latulippe
16 14d Chris Davidson
17 21p Ryan Paul
18 81 Colby Howard
19 32 Nick Jenkins
20 21 Ryan Herbert
21 9 Michael Bolden
22 09 Daniel Bolden
23 51p Perry Patino
24 8x Aiden Eldridge
25 28 Jojo Wilkinson
26 14p Tyler Porter
– Daniel Vining, Twitter: @danielvining
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