Southern Super Stars vs. Wilson Motorsports at Cordele

Corey Heim takes his turn in the No. 24 and was immediately fast.

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Maybe just maybe there was a chance the rest of the field could catch up to Donnie Wilson Motorsports this weekend in the Southern Super Series at Watermelon Capital Speedway for the Georgia Summer Nationals.

That was when William Byron and Sammy Smith were both unavailable due to NASCAR conflicts, and William Sawalich was elsewhere occupied but then Toyota made Corey Heim available -- pairing one of the best drivers at the deep south bullring with the best team in the discipline right now.

Heim has two victories in Crisp County coming in 2020 Speedfest and the 2021 Georgia Spring Nationals. This is his home track and it was just a natural fit for Heim to race at Watermelon Capital Speedway if a car was made available.

"I didn't see it coming," Heim told Racing America after Friday's practice session. "They needed a driver and I got the call on Wednesday from Toyota Racing and I'm excited to race with these guys. It’s an honor to race with them."

This doesn’t change his usual Super Late Model affiliation with Jett Motorsports. Instead, it’s just a chance to reward a successful racer with another chance to race at home.

"I’ve always loved this race track," Heim said. "I made my first Pro Late Model start here and I’ve run more races here than anywhere else. I would call it my home short track, having grown up in Marietta, and it’s great to meet fans and make new ones here in Cordele."

Wilson Motorsports has been virtually unstoppable in Super Late Model racing this season with Byron, Smith and Sawalich. Cordele is a tricky track, however, and maybe there was a chance to beat them with a less experienced pilot this weekend.

Bubba Pollard, seeking a third straight win here after picking up victories at Speedfest and the Georgia Spring Nationals this year, knew better though.

"It’s no different than always," Pollard said about chasing Wilson Motorsports. "We just have to keep working. This is one of our better tracks and we’re going to keep working. We need to get better in general, just everywhere, we’ll see."

Heim turned 31 laps during the Friday test session and posted a best lap of 15.893 -- over a tenth and a half better than anyone else.

It was another chapter of the same old story this year according Stephen Nasse.

"We’re definitely still chasing them and then you add Corey and he’s already good here," Nasse said. "Corey is a great driver, great family, I like those guys a lot. I have a lot of respect for Donnie and them too.

"I’ll be honest – it’s a bit of jealousy and it’s not like we’re the only ones. We’re just working hard trying to keep up with them and that’s another notch in their favor because they know they’re in our heads. That we know they’re fast."

Donnie Wilson hears how people talk about the team his family has built with Bond Suss, Dennis Dean, Gere Kennon and Upchurch Performance Engines but he isn't taking too much stock in it either.

"It's gratifying, but the way I look at it, you're only as good as your last race," Wilson said.

Sure, but that last race was also a victory at Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway.

"That's what we're here to do is win races and we've been doing it for years," Wilson said of his tenure as a driver and owner. "I know we've been on a roll but that could change because change happens fast here week in and week out. We try hard. I'm very fortunate to have this group of people to do this with.

"I know people point at us because we've been winning but Majeski has won 100 races all across the country. So has Pollard. So, the past two and a half years, we've won 18-20. Not 100 like they have. The most satisfaction I get is that we're winning with multiple drivers and that's really hard to do."

Wilson says they don’t test at all, like the industry thinks they do, and they don’t need to because they’re racing every weeks across their collection of drivers and that weekly track time has been tremendously helpful.

"We're really in tune with the trends," Wilson said. "It takes people too. The way I look at it is Super Late Model racing is the pinnacle of short track racing. This isn't Saturday night weekly racing. It's a traveling deal, and yeah, we're spending money, but everyone here is because that's what it takes to compete at this level.

"No one gripes about 135 grand dirt Late Models racing for 50 grand. But they want to gripe about us. But that's what happens when you win races."

Matthew Craig likened the battle to his team, Nasse and everyone else in Hamke Race Cars on the B-program compared to Wilson Motorsports. Like Nasse, he and his dad were just trying to get more turn and drive off out of their cars.

"We’re just behind, really, on center corner speed," Craig said. "We made some gains, and we’ve made some gains, but just not enough."

Pollard, who has already admitted on several occasions, that he just needs some test time to reevaluate and recalibrate his program spent Friday working on several experiments in advance of Saturday and other applicable tracks.

"We made some gains in the rear of the car, but for some reason the front of the car is not quite what it was last time and we unloaded the same," Pollard said. "I don’t know if the tire is different. The tire is showing something …. It’s different in terms of travel.

"We’re going to have to adjust to that, get the front end better for tomorrow."

And that was kind of the story for everyone up and down the pit area -- a lot of laps and the conviction that there is some work to be done before the race on Saturday.

"Except that Wilson car," Nasse said with a laugh. "They’re on point everywhere right now. But seriously though, everyone is trying to fine tune their car for the weather. It’s a different track in the summer than it is in January or March."

So, does Heim feel any added pressure knowing what Wilson Motorsports has accomplished this season and how the competition is talking about their program this summer?

"For sure," Heim said. "These guys have had their cars rolling for awhile and there have been races where I’ve got my butt kicked by them too, so I’ll be very interest to see how I fare on this side. They’ve won a lot of races; practice went well today and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow."

Qualifying for the Georgia Summer Nationals, a Southern Super Series sanctioned race is scheduled for Saturday at 5:15. Local divisions, including the Bandoleros, Legends, Pure Stocks and Mini Stocks is scheduled for 6:00 with the Super Late Model main event to follow.

The race will air on RacingAmerica.TV for subscribers.

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