Even when the metaphorical deck was stacked against Bubba Pollard, he still had Casey Roderick’s number on Friday night at Five Flags Speedway.
In a duel between the two winningest Late Model drivers in the Southeast, Pollard emerged victorious in the SERF Engineering 125. It wasn’t easy as Pollard got pinned behind lapped traffic over the final 15 laps.
Pollard had beat Roderick off Turn 2 on the final restart with 33 laps to go and had pulled away until he reached the tail end of the 20-car field – many of them side-by-side. Roderick couldn’t capitalize but he got to his rear bumper.
The No. 26 and No. 18 remained that way for the final eight laps, but Roderick just couldn’t find a way under Pollard.
For Pollard, it was his seventh win of the season and fifth in a Super Late Model. After a disappointing start, full of speed but misfortune, Pollard looks like he’s on one of those runs where he is unbeatable for months at a time.
“This is what we come here to do,” Pollard said. “Win. We didn’t come here to finish second. I have a good group of guys and they didn’t come here to finish second either. That helps when everyone has that same goal and we share that same competitive spirit.”
This is the second time Pollard has won at Pensacola in the Southern Super Series this season, and the other looked like another sure-fire win until he crashed early on June 23. Pollard’s success across the country has given the rest of the field the conviction that they are chasing the 30-year-old.
Roderick has said as much too, especially after finishing second to him on the Gulf Coast in April. That time, Roderick finished several car lengths behind. Now, he’s just a few inches behind.
“I feel like we’re the two best Late Model drivers in the country, that are winning the most, and putting on a show for the fans,” Roderick said. “I can say that, even though we finished second because we made progress tonight.
“I just couldn’t get underneath him to make a move — needed more grip at the end.”
A surprise contender of sorts emerged early in the race with Kyle Plott earning the pole and leading the first 92 laps after a pill draw only dropped him to second for the start of the race. He dominated the first half until a distributor wire failure slowed his pace, from the lead, in Turn 2.
“One of those things,” Plott said. “It sucks. We’ve had the same problem before and thought we had it figured out. We know why now and it’s not going to happen again.”
With Plott out of contention, Pollard and Roderick were allowed to duke it out in lap traffic with Connor Okrzesik outdueling Jesse Dutilly and Donnie Wilson well behind the leaders. The podium finish for Okrzesik comes after a second-place run at Montgomery in the Rumble by the River 125.
Okrzesik admitted that he still has a lot to learn racing against the likes of Pollard and Roderick, who in his words, have been doing it forever.
“We’ve been getting better every week,” Okrzesik said. “Mike Garvey has been working his butt off to make this car faster. We just need a little bit more to close out on the win.”
The race featured only one crash, on Lap 93 between Kyle Bryant and Michael Atwell. A competition caution was called on Lap 50.
The complete results can be found below.
- Bubba Pollard
- Casey Roderick
- Connor Okrzesik
- Jesse Dutilly
- Donnie Wilson
- Logan Boyett
- Chris Davidson
- Corey Heim
- Michael Atwell
- Garrett Jones
- Kyle Plott
- Mason Diaz
- Carter Stokes
- Joe Aramendia
- Nick Neri
- Brandon Herbert
- Hudson Holder
- Allen Karnes
- David Rogers
- Chet Morrison
- Kyle Bryant