Toby Nuttleman gave his driver a handicap and it still didn’t make a difference in the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway.
Ty Majeski by a straightaway.
Nuttleman called Majeski to pit road on Lap 162 on took on right side tires. Everyone else behind them took four. Nuttleman wanted to save a set just in case of a late race caution but immediately regretted it.
"I screwed that one up," Nuttleman said in post-race technical inspection.
He just didn’t tell Majeski about it until after the race -- one in which he drove away from Bubba Pollard over the final 50 laps to claim a record extending fifth win in the annual spring major.
"I don’t know if they were keeping it from me on purpose or if they actually knew it, but I guess it paid off," Majeski said with a laugh. "Looking back on it, with the way the race played out, we should have put four on.
"Toby and I were talking about it, and even if they took four, we thought we were good enough to hold them off. Say we went 35-40 laps, and then we’d have four laying there. Caution after caution came out, and it was what it was by that point, and it was fortunately enough."
That the No. 91 had two lesser tires than everyone else and still drove away from the likes of Bubba Pollard, Austin Nason and Hunter Robbins to win was quite a statement. Five laps into the run, Pollard and Majeski were matching 15.90s.
Thus, Pollard made the decision to largely ride the rest of the way in the hopes of a caution that never came. He wasn’t surprised to learn they were on old left sides.
"Nah, they’re good," Pollard said. "They’ve been good for 10 years here. They’ve got it going on so that’s not surprising at all. We’re going to keep working. We’re close and we’re getting better."
Pollard has opened the year with victories at Speedfest and the Red Eye 50 at Watermelon Capital and New Smyrna respectively. His two runner-ups this winter have come at Citrus County and South Alabama at the hands of Majeski and Nuttleman in their custom built TobyCar 001 chassis.
If Pollard is going to lose to anyone, he wants it to be against that old school combination in an era where so many teams purchase turn-key race cars from the likes of Port City, Hamke, Senneker and FURY.
"It’s really impressive," Pollard said. "I’d much rather they win than people who pay a lot of money for this other stuff. They work hard, they’re old school and Toby is smart. Ty is a really good race car driver and I have a lot of respect for those guys."
That respect goes both ways.
"That means a lot," Majeski said. "Bubba has been very outspoken about everyone buying speed and running the same chassis. Everyone has a HAMKE or FURY. Bubba has a Port City and we do our own thing with Toby.
"It’s cool to come out here and beat those quote unquote factory teams. It’s hard to beat that because they have power in numbers. Hamke and is FURY well over half the field. If you’re ahead of them, you’re in good shape because you’ve beaten everyone’s data, but if you miss it that day, you may finish outside of the top-10.
"So that makes it hard for us, but we pride ourselves on staying ahead of the game."
Majeski led early from the pole but surrendered the lead on Lap 23 to Austin Nason and Blaine Rocha. Majeski retook the lead on Lap 50 and largely led the rest of the way -- allowing Nason to occasionally take the lead when he was pressing too hard for it.
"Yeah, I thought they were pushing too hard for that early in the race," Majeski said. "We were really getting pressure from anyone else, so I let them check out. He wanted to lead the race early so we let them, and I think they kind of paid the price.
"We had a really good long run car. I’m always free on entry here and we focused on that all weekend. We fixed that but at the expense of some short run speed because of it. I’m grateful for the way the race played out with the long run because that was our strong suit."
The victory is the fifth in seven years for Majeski and Nuttleman.
South Alabama Speedway is one of their favorites and it never gets old. They claimed $17,500 between the purse, pole and contingency bonuses too -- the most they have won in a decade of racing in the Rattler 250.
"It's rewarding because everyone is coming after you when we've had this kind of success here," Majeski said. "We're trying to get better too, but there's a lot of smart people in this garage area.
"I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to be in this situation and to be surrounded by some many great people. It takes a lot of help and supporters to do this and that's a blessing."
One week removed from winning the Alabama 200, Hunter Robbins finished fourth on Sunday in the Rattler and takes an incredible amount of momentum into the Georgia Spring Nationals in two weeks.
"We were really close to having a third place," Robbins said. "Honestly, we ran way better today than I thought we would the way we were struggling to find speed all weekend. I'm really happy with it. The car started off really fast. It got way too tight, but it's a really good day, just needed to fire off better on new tires and we might have been able to race for second."
The Southern Super Series season will resume on March 25-26 at Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, Georgia. Every Southern Super Series race airs live and on-demand on Racing America.
46th Rattler 250
South Alabama Speedway
1. Ty Majeski
2. Bubba Pollard
3. Austin Nason
4. Hunter Robbins
5. Jake Garcia
6. Stephen Nasse
7. Jake Finch
8. Casey Roderick
9. Jett Noland
10. Kyle Plott
11. Jackson Boone
12. Carson Hocevar
13. Johnny Brazier
14. Chandler Smith
15. Blaine Rocha
16. Dusty Williams
17. Eddie VanMeter
18. Michael Hinde
19. Gabe Sommers
20. Steve Dorer
21. Michael House
22. Brian Campbell