Through the carnage and the chaos, Bubba Pollard emerged as the winner on Saturday night in the Rubber and Specialties 125.
It was an attrition filled race, featuring a brawl between Stephen Nasse and Donnie Wilson, instigated by a 10-car incident on Lap 52. Pollard posted the fastest time in time trials but had to race his way back through the field when he redrew a starting position of seventh before the race.
But it was an eventful 125 laps to get there, with the 10-car crash only serving as the most notable crash of a race that featured three red flag periods. In fact, it was the decision not to pit after he was involved in that big crash that gave him the track position needed to win.
While others hit pit road, Pollard stayed out until the Lap 95 controlled caution, taking the lead from Chandler Smith on Lap 98 and outdueling him on a series of late restarts.
“Honestly, I didn’t know it was that bad,” Pollard said, as he inspected a crunched-up right panel in Victory Lane. “I could hear the tone in the engine change, but I had no clue.”
Even though he won the pole, Pollard didn’t like the feel of his No. 26 Super Late Model during the first 50 laps while he dealt with traffic.
“It was a good race, a little up and down for us,” Pollard said. “I didn’t feel good about the car in the first 25 laps. I almost went to pits. But, it came to us, and now we’ve got a little momentum here.”
It was much needed momentum because Pollard suffered a dreadful start to his 2018 season before breaking through last weekend in the CARS Tour Mid-Atlantic Classic at Orange County Speedway.
Pollard wasn’t the only driver to end with a positive result despite getting caught up in a big crash. Casey Roderick eventually earned runner-up after being involved in a Lap 51 crash.
Both incidents began in similar fashion, as Wilson struggled to get up to speed on the bottom lane on restarts. But Roderick admits he probably should have gotten out of a three-wide scenario with Pollard and Wilson, with Connor Okrzesik also in the mix.
“That one was hard-fought second place there,” said Roderick. “I made stupid move on that restart. It was too early in the race. I really tore up the racecar. I don’t think it would’ve changed the outcome tonight. We were too tight in the center, and Bubba’s always good here. We’ve closed the gap, and I’m really proud of that, but we’ve got more work to do.”
And then there was the Lap 52 incident and fight.
Nasse and Wilson rolled to the top of the outside wall, after Pollard got by on the bottom, eventually leading to contact between the two. Nasse climbed out of his No. 51 car first. With his helmet still on, Nasse gestured demonstrably toward Wilson. Then, he walked up to the driver’s side and started delivering punches as he leaned into Wilson’s No. 2.
None of Nasse’s punches landed with great force, however, as Wilson still had the window net up while the Oklahoma City driver was unstrapping. Once Wilson slid out of the car, the pair brawled on the famed half-mile asphalt oval.
Track officials and local sheriff deputies tried to separate them, but to little avail. The two continued to jaw at each other, as their pits were in close proximity to one another.
Meanwhile, Smith finished third after leading for much of the first half, grateful to have at least survived the carnage.
“We were really good tonight,” said Smith, not even a week after sustaining minor injuries from an ARCA Racing Series crash at Salem Speedway. “Bubba was just a little bit better. We gotta come back and work with it.”
The complete results can be found below.
- Bubba Pollard
- Casey Roderick
- Chandler Smith
- Kyle Plott
- Garrett Jones
- Carter Stokes
- Dustin Smith
- Jordan McCallum
- Joe Aramendia
- Kyle Bryant
- Preston Bores
- Chris Davidson
- Jesse Dutilly
- Corey Heim
- Casey Smith
- Donnie Wilson
- Stephen Nasse
- Augie Grill
- Logan Boyett
- Connor Okrzesik
- Jeff Choquette
- David Rogers
- Michael Atwell
- Steven Davis
- Jerry Artuso
Read more Short Track Scene:
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- Summer Showdown already attracting big time names
- Bubba Pollard finds redemption in CARS Mid-Atlantic Classic