It didn’t take long for Bubba Pollard to figure out Jennerstown Speedway in his first time to the Pennsylvania half-mile but his diligence was rewarded with a $20,000 paycheck.
The 33-year-old from Senoia, Georgia dominated the Thomas Automotive American Freedom 200 on Saturday night — a Super Late Model race co-sanctioned by the CARS Tour and Champion Racing Association.
Pollard led two other times prior to passing Chris Davidson on Lap 84 but would not relinquish the top spot for the remainder of the night. Pollard withstood a competitive restart from Sammy Smith after the final caution with 25 laps to go but quickly pulled away and emerged victorious by just over two seconds.
But again, it didn’t come easy, and Pollard was grateful to have shock supplier Brannon Earnest (of Earnest Performance) on-site to provide him several options throughout practice.
“We fixed it this morning, worked on some things, got it right,” Pollard said. “I can’t thank my guys enough. We’ve been on the road a lot these past couple of months. I’ll tell you the biggest thing, was having Brannon Earnest here this weekend to get what I needed to drive over the bump in the middle of 3 and 4.
“We needed to be better there, and we worked on our shocks since we got here to allow me to be aggressive and drive through there like I needed. Man, I enjoyed this race. It’s a racy place. You can move around and race. I like it and hopefully we can come back.”
Smith, driving the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51, had one shot at Pollard but just didn’t have enough to fend off the No. 26 and its momentum on the outside lane.
Once again in clean air, Pollard ran off some of his quickest laps on old tires, below 19 seconds until he built a one second lead.
“I didn’t quite have the fire off speed that he had,” Smith said. “I thought we were about the same. He was a little better on a long run, but if we had a little better fire off speed, we would have had a chance.”
Was there anything Smith would have done differently lined up next to Pollard on the final restart?
“The top side was just the preferred groove,” Smith said. “You pick up so much stuff on your tires and you’re just tight for three laps. Once we got going, we were pretty close. I just needed that fire off speed.”
Jake Garcia outdueled Corey Heim in the closing laps to take third, his second consecutive podium after finishing third last Saturday in the Southern Super Series at 5 Flags Speedway.
“I was just a little tight there at the end, but there wasn’t much more we had there,” GArcia said. “Phenomenal job by my guys.”
Tate Fogleman and Chris Davidson picked off Heim in the final laps to secure top-five finishing positions. Davidson led 15 laps from Lap 55 to Lap 70 in a resurgent evening for the Texas veteran.
The only significant incident of the evening happened on Lap 29 when pole sitter Trevor Noles cut a right rear tire and slammed hard into the Turn 3 retaining wall. It was a costly week for Donnie Wilson Racing with Wilson himself losing two cars due to crashes last weekend at Pensacola and then a third on Saturday at Jennerstown.
It will prevent him from racing at Montgomery in the Southern Super Series next Saturday night.
Stephen Nasse had a forgettable night, suffering an early exit in the Pro Late Model preliminary and then struggling to get a handle on his Super Late Model. He qualified 16th but started at the rear to make continued changes to get his car driving right. He failed to crack the top-10 and parked the No. 51 behind the wall inside the final 50 laps.
The complete results from Jennerstown can be found below.
- Bubba Pollard
- Sammy Smith
- Jake Garcia
- Tate Fogleman
- Chris Davidson
- Corey Heim
- Mike Hopkins
- Matt Craig
- Josh Brock
- Al Francis
- Kyle Plott
- Carson Kvapil
- Hudson Halder
- Logan Runyon
- Kodie Conner
- Jeff Batten
- Tovia Grynewicz
- Stephen Nasse
- Greg VanAlst
- Justin Crider
- Kyle Crump
- Trevor Noles
- Cody Coughlin