Bubba Pollard took two families to victory lane in the Rowdy Energy 100 on Saturday night at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.
The first was his usual Pollard Motorsports No. 26 crew, and the other was the TM Ranch Racing No. 11 team most recently associated with the legendary David Rogers prior to his passing in March.
Pollard was asked to drive the iconic No. 11 in its final on-track appearance on Friday night and took it to a third-place result. The most successful Super Late Model driver of his era had hoped to pilot the car to victory lane but fell short to Stephen Nasse and Hunter Robbins.
On Saturday, he drove everyone associated with that car to victory lane, Rogers himself certainly there in spirit.
“Thank you, guys,” Pollard said over his radio as he crossed the finish line. “Everyone is a part of this. I want everyone to come down here and have their picture taken.”
Victory Lane was a crowded place, with a dozen combined crew members and the Rogers family all surrounding Pollard during his celebration on the frontstretch.
“It was a special weekend,” Pollard said. “With everything that happened with supporting David’s guys and being able to drive his car last night. Jumping back in a car that I’m comfortable with. We put it on them.”
Pollard was back in his more familiar Senneker chassis on Saturday night and drove through the field after starting 10th due to an invert of the results from Friday. Pollard caught Jake Garcia for the lead on Lap 67 and completed the pass eight laps later.
“He’s a good race car driver,” Pollard said of the 15-year-old Garcia. “He’s still young and he’s still learning in lapped traffic. We took advantage when he got stacked behind a couple of guys. He did a really good job though.”
Garcia’s car wasn’t totally to his liking at the time he caught traffic and simply got beat by one of the all-time greats.
“Our car was just tight in the center,” Garcia said. “He had a little better drive off. We weren’t too bad. We had a pretty good car there. It’s tough to beat Bubba. He’s really good. He’s got this place figured out. We’ll keep making gains on it like we did this weekend and hopefully we’ll be where he is later this season.
The victory for Pollard was his 26th in 76 Southern Super Series starts. It was also his 21st Five Flags Speedway ‘Blizzard Series’ win in 49 starts. Pollard has now won at least one Blizzard Series race in 13 consecutive seasons.
In addition to collecting a $5,000 check for the win, Pollard also earned the Southern Super Series Double Down at the Next Town bonus, a bonus that guarantees a $10,000 prize for all races in 2020 if the winning driver participated in the previous race.
Pollard also earned the $5,000 “Best Average Finish” bonus put up by James Finch and Phoenix Construction for Friday and Saturday’s doubleheader.
“I just want to thank everyone who put these bonuses together,” Pollard said. “Rowdy Energy. Phoenix Construction. James Finch has done a lot for short track racing. A lot of people don’t know. He sponsors cars, supports the Derby and puts up bonuses like this. That’s what it’s about. He’s awesome.”
One driver who did not collect a big pay day on Saturday was Stephen Nasse — who was eligible for a combined $35,000 payout if he could sweep the weekend.
Nasse started the race in 10th and quickly drove his way to fourth, looking every bit as capable of winning as he did on Friday night.
On a lap two restart, Nasse was forced three-wide while racing alongside Pollard and Connor Okrzesik. He later cited the contact between the two as something that may have damaged his car. The No. 51 did not fire off well during the restart on Lap 25.
“He took us three-wide on like lap 5 or whatever, and I don’t know what he was thinking,” Nasse said. “I was on the outside of someone and the next thing I knew, I was being told three-wide, three-wide.
“I don’t know if that messed up something on the rear-end but it felt like a flat tire. I could not get to the throttle at the end of the race. I about busted my ass coming to the flag.”
Following a sixth-place finish in the Southern Super Series season-opening Rattler 250 and a fourth-place finish on Friday night, Jeremy Pate added a third-place on Saturday. The driver of the Larry Blount Motorsports No. 21 qualified 16th on Friday and was inverted to an eighth place starting spot on Saturday.
Pate thinks he had something for Nasse and Pollard if he had started these races with track position.
“That and bad luck on restarts,” Pate said. “Every restart had us lined up on the outside. So we lost one or two spots on every restart and had to gain em back. I’m real tickled to death on how the car performed this weekend.
“We were a little tight last night, made an adjustment and were a little free tonight but we’re right there with Bubba and Stephen every night so far and I’m really excited for what the rest of our season could look like.”
For the second night in a row, the race was forced under red flag conditions due to crash in Turn 1 shortly after the start. On Saturday, it was California veteran Bob Lyon shoved into the outside retaining wall. This weekend marked his first races in Pensacola since a 1988 All Pro Super Series event.
The crash was the only significant incident on the night.
Kyle Plott led the first 46 laps from the pole but was forced to pit road under green as the leader with a broken right rear shock mount.
The next race on the Southern Super Series schedule is the Rumble by the River 125 at Montgomery Motor Speedway on July 11.
- Bubba Pollard
- Jake Garcia
- Jeremy Pate
- Connor Okrzesik
- Casey Roderick
- Stephen Nasse
- Boris Jurkovic
- Chris Davidson
- Willie Allen
- Logan Bearden
- Hunter Robbins
- Kodie Conner
- John DeAngelis
- Hudson Halder
- Michael Atwell
- Kaden Honeycutt
- George Gorham Jr.
- Daniel Dye
- Jesse Dutilly
- Perry Patino
- Jackson Boone
- Jack Dossey
- Colton Nelson
- Kyle Plott
- Friday Hassler Jr.
- Nick Neri
- Donnie Wilson
- Austin Nason
- Terry Senneker
- Bob Lyon