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Bubba Pollard aims to challenge the best in his Late Model foray

Matt Weaver | STS

Bubba Pollard is taking his ‘bucket list world tour’ to the Carolinas and Virginias this summer.

Arguably the most notorious Super Late Model driver in the country, the 30-year-old has finally decided to try his hand at driving a Late Model Stock. Beginning with the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown in April, Pollard expects to enter four or five races in a car built by Fat Head Racing’s Jamie Yelton. That number could increase based on their success rate early in the year.

Pollard has wanted to race a NASCAR-style Late Model for several seasons because he wanted to race against the likes of Lee Pulliam, Philip Morris and Josh Berry. But it wasn’t until Yelton expanded into Super Late Models that he and Pollard connected and started working on the frameworks for such an option.

“With Jamie running, Supers, we see them all the time now,” Pollard said. “They have a lot of experience with the Late Model Stock stuff. That’s something that I’ve always wanted to do but the timing just hasn’t worked out.

“I want to compete against Lee Pulliam, Philip Morris and Tommy Lemons. There’s a lot of good veteran guys there. I’ve always wanted to do that. We tried to make it work out last year and we couldn’t make the schedule work.”

That one-off was supposed to take place at Martinsville Speedway for the Valley Star Credit Union 300. He will get the chance to race for a Ridgeway Grandfather Clock in September in addition to starts at the Denny Hamlin Race and two others.

“We’ll see how the first two go and then we’ll look at others,” Pollard said. “It’s something that I’m going to need to adjust to. It’s gonna be different. Those cars are different and I’ve got to get a feel. Hopefully we can test and get familiar with the car and what it does on a long run. I’m excited just because I can lean on Jamie’s experience with these cars.”

To make sure Pollard has the best experience possible, he is building Pollard a brand new car from the ground up.

“We’ve spent a lot of time around Bubba and like him a lot,” Yelton said. “We’re both racers. We’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure he can hit the ground and compete. Say whatever you want about Bubba, because I know people have opinions, but he’s a pure race car driver and those are hard to find. I don’t think he’s going to struggle.”

Pollard has won races from coast-to-coast and is both beloved and criticized for his blunt nature and hard driving style. As the most successful Super Late Model driver of his era, he is also often viewed as an ambassador for his discipline.

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He is also someone that Late Model Stock champions desperately want to test their skills against.

“Bubba is a guy that I’ve followed closely,” Pulliam said. “Brannon Earnest does his shocks and does mine too. So in some ways, I feel like I know Bubba but I’ve never met him. I’m sure he feels the same way. I’ve followed his success and I think it’s going to be really cool to share the track with him.”

Reigning CARS Tour champion Josh Berry feels the same way.

“Bubba is a great race car driver,” Berry said. “I’ve only seen him race a couple of times. He’s someone that you can’t help but pay attention to — how they race. It’s great to have a guy of that caliber pay attention to us and want to race with us.

“It’s the same for us, because I know a lot of us would like to do the same thing, hop into a Super Late Model and race against those guys. So the fact that he’s been able to put a deal together is great. I hope people are paying attention.”

For Pollard, this is just a continuation of his aforementioned ‘bucket list world tour.’ Over the past two years, Pollard has built and raced a dirt Late Model with the intent of eventually entering a Lucas Oil or World of Outlaws event.

Back in 2015, he entered two ARCA Racing Series events with Goodson Racing and now he’s trying his hands at a Super Late Model. Pollard just wants to experience as many different forms of racing as possible.

“I like all forms of racing,” Pollard said. “We can’t move up. We don’t have the sponsorship or funding to move up and take the next step. We have fun doing this. We work hard during the week just so we can do this. So to be able to drive different kind of cars, to challenge the best, that’s why we do this.”

And Yelton wants his home community, the Late Model Stock community, to learn what Pollard is about.

“We’re here to prove a point,” Yelton said. “I think people around here sometimes underestimate Super drivers or eveb Bubba himself. We’re going to show them what he’s capable of doing.”

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

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