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Bubba Pollard, Jeremy Pate on Rattler 250 front row

Matt Weaver | STS

Bubba Pollard and Jeremy Pate will lead the field to green in the first marquee Super Late Model event of the season since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pollard posted the quickest speed in time trials for the 44th annual Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway in Kinston, Alabama — pacing the vintage 4/10-mile oval at 15.359 seconds in his iconic No. 26 Senneker/Hamner.

That edged out the 15.384 set by Jeremy Pate.

Pollard won the 2012 Rattler 250 but has struggled in the Southern Super Series season opener in recent years, spending a majority of the race last year one lap down.

Saturday afternoon was a statement.

“It’s always good to qualify up front,” Pollard said. “It’s good to start the race and get some laps in and just see how the car feels out front. Some good feedback is what I’m saying.

“It was a little tight in qualifying. It changed a lot but it’s not done changing. It’s going to start out front and hopefully we can make something happen tomorrow.”

Pollard is eager to overcome the struggles of the past half-decade at this particular track.

“We’ve been working really hard over the past several months to kind of get back to where we need to be,” Pollard said. “It’s just a learning curve. It’s going to take races to see where we need to be. Right now, we’re showing speed, which is a good thing.

“It feels like its going to last, but this is a long race, so we’ll have to see.”

It shouldn’t totally be a surprise but Pate qualifying on the outside pole came to a shock for those not accustomed to seeing the Larry Blount Motorsports No. 21 in the mix in recent years.

Pate and Blount have shown race winning speed since joining forces last season and contended in both the Snowball Derby and CRA Speedfest during the winter. That speed has carried over into the first race back after the shutdown.

Pate feels like he should have been on the pole but was bit by his qualifying draw.

“I missed my entry just a little bit in 3 too, on my money lap and it stayed enough to run a decent time, but I just knew someone was going to beat it. I love where we qualified. It’s going to put us in a good group of cars where we can ride and be there at the end.”

RELATED: Jeremy Pate, Larry Blount surge into 2020 contention

Stephen Nasse has been racing at home at the short tracks near his Pinellas Park, Florida home so didn’t have much rust to shake off. He was content with the time and starting third – inside front row.

“I felt really good,” Nasse said. “I knew we had some cross speed so I gave it all I could and got to the throttle too early off 4 and that hurt the second lap. My first lap was really good so that saved me.”

The big surprise of the session was Speedfest winner Corey Heim qualifying 16th.

The 17-year-old was one of the first cars to turn his laps and the track still featured some of the modified tires in the surface and that made the track too slick for his likings.

“The first 10 cars that went out were like on ice,” Heim said. “Majeski was fastest in practice all day and he didn’t put down a great lap. Same with me.”

The race is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. CT and will air live on for its monthly and yearly video package subscribers.

The complete results and starting lineup can be found below.

  1. Bubba Pollard 15.359
  2. Jeremy Pate 15.384
  3. Stephen Nasse 15.389
  4. Jake Garcia 15.452
  5. Dawson Fletcher 15.464
  6. Hunter Robbins 15.478
  7. Anthony Sergi 15.496
  8. Ty Majeski 15.546
  9. Jackson Boone 15.553
  10. Daniel Dye 15.557
  11. Josh Brock 15.567
  12. Connor Okrzesik 15.589
  13. Jeff Fultz 15.596
  14. Jett Noland 15.597
  15. Gio Bromante 15.614
  16. Corey Heim 15.623
  17. Mason Keller 15.653
  18. Sammy Smith 15.663
  19. Hudson Halder 15.699
  20. Nick Joanides 15.737
  21. Steve Dorer 15.761
  22. Kyle Plott 15.899
  23. Logan Bearden 15.948
  24. Kyle McCullem 15. 949
  25. Kyle Bryant 16.035

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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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