IRVINGTON, Ala. (May 15, 2014) – When the Southern Super Series (SSS) made their first stop of the season at Mobile International Speedway (MIS) last month, Hunter Robbins of Shorter, Ala. was a fixture at the front of the field. Leading a total of 63 laps on the night, the Auburn University student appeared to have the car to beat.
However, after making contact with Chet Morrison in the late stages of the race and sustaining heavy damage to the front-end of his car, the familiar monkey on Robbins’ back returned- and he would finish in the 16th position.
“We had a great run going on, said Robbins earlier this week. “We were on a little different strategy than Bubba (Pollard) was, and with the way the race played out, he was able to get back to us and got around us with just about ten laps to go.”
“At that point we were happy with second, but we still wanted to go for the win,” he continued. “With the lap cars coming up, we were going hard and trying to see if we could make (Pollard) make a mistake, but we ended up getting caught up in someone else’s mess.”
“It was a matter of who was going to pick the right line to get through it and take the lead.”
Coming off a disappointing 8th-place result in the SSS event at Montgomery Motor Speedway on May 10th, the series is set to return to MIS for the second Miller Lite 125 of the season, which offers the perfect opportunity for Robbins to redeem himself and get his season back on track.
Much like the big names of the series, drivers such as Bubba Pollard and Augie Grill, Robbins has an extensive amount of experience at Mobile. Besides being the defending winner of the Lee Fields Memorial Pro Late Model race there, Robbins has logged countless laps at the track in recent years.
“Really, over the last two years, we have had a lot of success down there,” said Robbins about his experience at MIS. “It didn’t matter if it was the pro car or the super car. I’ve really found a comfort with the track and I just really enjoy going down there every time having a great race car.”
Despite the cars of the SSS having engines capable of producing greater amounts of horsepower than the Pro Late Models that he has the most experience in at MIS, a lot of the information and experience he has obtained has been able to be transferred over to the much faster Super Late Models of the SSS.
Now in his second year of competition in the SSS, the 23-year-old has had his share of close brushes with victory in the young series- including a third-place result in last year’s All American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (Tenn.).
Despite coming so close to capturing his first checkered flag in the series on more than one occasion, Robbins has experienced heartbreak and disappointment in the form of mechanical failures to accidents, and almost everything in between.
“A little bit of everything,” said Robbins as he reflected on his disappointing results in the series thus far. “If we didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any at all. That is kind of what’s plagued us for the longest time now. We are constantly just getting caught up in other people’s stuff or having mechanical problems or other things that were out of our control.”
“We just need a little luck on our side and work on making our car a little better at a time.”
Although talent and determination trumps luck and chance in most forms of auto racing, drivers in the SSS will take a win any way they can. When series officials announced over the off-season that they would allow drivers and teams to take tires before the lap 75 caution, it opened up a whole new game of strategy. With drivers and teams only being allowed six Hoosier tires for the race, and considering the parity in the series at the current time, it is extremely difficult to win a race any given week.
With the current season still in its infant stages, pit strategy in the SSS is still a work in progress- which adds an extra element to what is already must-see racing.
“It all depends on who pits when and who does what,” commented Robbins when being asked about the varying strategies. “Nobody had really tried any strategy up until that point, so we were kind of the first ones to go out on a limb there and see if it would work for us.”
“At Mobile, it almost played out for us. We had a good enough car that those ten laps (difference in tires) didn’t make too much of a difference. I would have liked to have had equal tires when I was racing Pollard there for the win.”
With the lessons of last month’s flirt with victory at MIS in mind, a similar setup under him and a little help from lady luck, Robbins could very well take the checkered flag when the SSS returns to Alabama’s fastest half-mile on May 24th. Considering his vast amount of experience at the southern Alabama speedway, he certainly knows what it takes to do so.
Racing action from the cars and stars of the Southern Super Series kicks off Saturday night, May 24th with qualifying at 7pm. Along with a fantastic slate of local racing competition from the Pro Truck, Super Stock, Sportsman and Bomber divisions; it will be a night of must-see racing action.
About Mobile International Speedway: Mobile International Speedway is the longest continuously operating sports facility in Mobile County. It was built in 1964 and has presented weekly motorsports events every year since then. As an indication of increasing community acceptance and enthusiasm, both the Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Mobile Sports Authority became MIS partners beginning in 2013.
Family attendance and participation have been the keys to the track’s continued success. Kids 5 and under are always admitted free to the grandstands. Family nights and family-oriented shows have always been staples of the annual MIS schedules. Over 30,000 people will attend the 14 scheduled MIS events in 2014.