Bubba Pollard has been here before.
He doesn’t take credence in it, but he hears the hype and the expectation that he’s going to win the Snowball Derby. But he’s heard it before too.
He heard it last year when he paced practically every practice session and led the most laps before getting outsmarted by Kyle Busch.
Bubba Pollard is once again the favorite to win the Snowball Derby in his 13th December trip to Five Flags Speedway but he’s heard it all before.
“It’s a hard race to win and you never know how it’s going to play out,” Pollard said. “We build the best car we can and take it to the race track. But that’s all we can control.
“This is a hard race. Everyone drives hard and there’s so many things that can go wrong. We try to learn from every trip out here and hope that we’ve learned enough.”
Pollard was leading late in 2013 when he broke an axle when a jack broke on pit road. He finished 30th. He set a then track record in 2011 qualifying but finished 12th. He has had good runs and a couple of races he likely should have won.
Pollard has won over 20 total Late Model races at the Florida half-mile, but just hasn’t gotten it done in the ‘Big One.’
But this year feels different, in different ways from last year, in that he has beaten this field before. He’s won the Oxford 250 and Canadian Short Track Nationals. He’s won twice in a Super Late at Five Flags in 2018. There’s also no Rowdy Busch to stand in his way.
He’s the favorite.
“Everybody prepares for the Derby,” Pollard said. “Everyone puts in just as much as we do in this race. Yeah, if you look down the list, we’ve beaten each of these guys in the big races and in the races here, but all that shows us is who we have to beat on Sunday.”
And to do it, he’s going to have to win the Derby in a new car — something he’s brought to Five Flags three years in a row.
“I’m not afraid to bring a new car,” Pollard said. “When you build a new car, that’s the best, the fastest it’s going to get. We built a new car this summer and won the first four races with it.”
This time, the favorite again, Pollard just wants to win the first one with it.