NASHVILLE, TN - It might not have been delivered to him the way he hoped, but Donnie Wilson left Nashville, TN Saturday night with a trademark guitar as a trophy for winning at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
Wilson was awarded his first Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco victory in the 125-lap event after unofficial winner John Hunter Nemechek, who led the final 106 laps of the Southern Super Series 125 presented by Crane Cams, was disqualified in post-race technical inspection for an illegal driveshaft.
Even though it didn't come in a traditional manner, Wilson etched his name into the Southern Super Series record books with his first series win and first overall Super Late Model victory since 2005.
"I'm speechless," said Wilson after being handed the guitar that is traditionally given to winners of events at the Nashville fairgrounds track. "We all don't like to win it like that, but with as many as I've lost lately, I'll take it. It's a bad deal. John Hunter's going to win a lot of races. He's a great talent. I'm just glad to finally win a race. I've lost a lot of races. I've finished second a lot of races. I've led a lot of laps. Winning is what we're here to do. Any way I can get them, I'll take them."
Augie Grill led the first 19 circuits of the Southern Super Series 125 before being overtaken by Nemechek. Nemechek sped away to the lap 75 competition caution that bunched the field back up to his bumper. Grill dueled with Nemechek on the subsequent restart, but Nemechek held onto the top spot for the final 50 laps.
Behind him, Wilson rallied from his 11th starting spot and eventually got to second with a pass of Grill with just three laps remaining. That pass turned out to be the winning one after Nemechek's disqualification.
"I was going as hard as I could to catch Augie," said Wilson of his late charge to get by Grill. "It's been since 2005 since I won a race. The way we ended the year, we had a fast car and we've proved it. We've been struggling in qualifying a little bit this year. We started 11th tonight, but we just slowly picked our way up. We luckily had a good long-run car."
Grill, who earned the Southern Super Series pole award in qualifying, was left to settle for third on the track and second in the official finishing order once Wilson got by on lap 122.
"The first run, I led a few laps and I just didn't want to run any harder than I was. John Hunter was wanting to go, so I let him go. I was planning on letting him lead the rest of the way to the break and make some adjustments to make it better. The adjustments we made just made the car too tight. I couldn't get back to the throttle the last 50. We'll take this and build on the year."
Suwanee, GA's Anderson Bowen officially finished third, just a few weeks after finishing second in the Southern Super Series season-opener at South Alabama Speedway. Landon Cling, in his series debut, finished fourth, while 2013 series champion Daniel Hemric rounded out the top five.
The Southern Super returns to action with the first Sunoco Gulf Coast doubleheader weekend of the 2014 season, April 25 and 26. The SSS cars will invade Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL on Friday, April 25. The next night, the teams will travel to Mobile International Speedway in Irvington, AL.
Southern Super Series
Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville - Nashville, TN
Southern Super Series 125 - April 5, 2014
1. Donnie Wilson
2. Augie Grill
3. Anderson Bowen
4. Landon Cling
5. Daniel Hemric
6. Casey Smith
7. Kyle Grissom
8. Casey Roderick
9. Bubba Pollard
10. Hunter Robbins
11. Dennis Schoenfeld
12. Allen Karnes
13. Steve Wallace
14. Spencer Wauters
15. Zak Hausler
16. Justin South
17. Joseph Meyer
18. Will Gallaher
19. Joe Ross
20. Erik Darnell
21. Willie Allen
DQ: John Hunter Nemechek
DNS: T.J. Reaid
DNS: Stacey Crain