Lap Traffic, Track Position to Decide Alabama 200

With 32 cars starting the race, qualifying will be huge.


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Matthew Craig crashed out trying to get around an erratic slow-moving lap car the last time he raced at Montgomery Motor Speedway.

That was the Southern Super Series Rumble by the River 125.

There were 23 cars that night so imagine what the Alabama 200 could be like on Saturday when there will be 33 starters from a field of 39 on the grounds in the state capital short track for the marquee Pro Late Model event.

The procedure for slower cars have changed back and forth over the years at Montgomery but they are being asked to stay to the outside on Saturday.

Craig doesn’t mind one policy over the other, but drivers just need to hold their lines, which was not the case when Mike Garrett straddled the middle leading to his run-in with the former race winner back in June.

"I don't know, I thought the outside for lap cars was better," Craig said. "But they just need to pick a lane and stay in it. Everything would be okay."

Even if lappers follow the procedure, and stay in the outside, so many cars starting the race could create complications for the leaders. Montgomery Motor Speedway is a rare short track that has three equal lanes to race on.

It’s not uncommon to see leaders compete side-by-side for laps at a time and such a battle could approach the back of the field.

Justin South hasn’t raced in two years, and while he’s hopeful to be inside of the top-10, he’s aware of the responsibilities if he’s not as quick out of the gate with his new car as he would like to be.

"We got to make sure we’re not the ones back there being lapped first," South said. "That’s number one, right?"

To wit, South says the race will be won and lost on qualifying, starting near the front and better navigating lapped traffic.

"I know they say there is plenty of time to get there, and there is but it’s a short race and it’s about missing the wrecks. They say it’s a long race and it is for us, but there’s a lot of urgency is you don’t qualify well."

In other words, there could be some good cars at the back of the field that haven’t made their way to the front as quickly as they would like. When you send seven cars home before the race, that means the 32 that make the show are going to be pretty evenly matched.

Two-time Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway champion Cole Williams is wary of starting in the back half of the field or even approaching them during a long green flag run.

"You don’t want to find yourself too far back there because you’ll find yourself in a spot you don’t want to be in," Williams said. "It’s always better to be ahead of the 8-ball and control your own destiny. That’s the goal – to qualify up front and run around that top-10 area."

Ultimately, Hunter Robbins is excited to have this many cars at Montgomery and even if it makes for a more challenging race, it’s a good problem to have.

And perhaps one that isn’t as controversial.

"I’m glad there are a lot of cars here," Robbins said. "Hopefully, it’s a straight up race and no one tears anything up. In recent years, the controversy was there weren’t enough cars and people intentionally spinning out to get tires at the end, or whatever the case may be.

"But now, with this many cars, and so much traffic, this race should play out naturally and the racers can decide it up front."