Several Midwestern Super Late Model stars have taken exception to southern ace Bubba Pollard and his claim that the region has produced overly aggressive drivers.
Others have a more tempered take regarding the suddenly controversial topic.
The 2014 Southern Super Series champion sounded off against the style of racing commonly found in the states of Indiana, Ohio and Michigan — Champion Racing Association territory. He also swore off returning to Anderson Speedway (IN) for another run at the Redbud 400 until the current roster changes dramatically.
“Ain’t nobody out here got any respect for anybody,” Pollard said. “It’s a quarter-mile bullring, so what do you expect? I like (track president) Rick Dawson and his track, great show, but I ain’t coming back. Not with this group of guys. This is the worst group of guys I’ve ever raced against in my life.”
Three-time CRA Super Series champion Johnny VanDoorn was one of the drivers specifically pointed-out by Pollard on Saturday night but he doesn’t totally understand why.
“I don’t think that was an accurate depiction about how we race,” VanDoorn said. “I don’t think the racing in the Redbud was that aggressive. But honestly, that’s just part of bullring racing. I think that was an emotional comment from Bubba that followed a race that didn’t totally go his way.
“I’ve raced against him for a long time, and to say that there was a CRA problem on Saturday night just isn’t a fair assessment. That track is barely wide enough to run by yourself and then you have side-by-side racing on a hot day where you’re sliding around and that kind of thing is just bound to happen.”
The short track community was largely critical of Pollard because his Redbud comments occurred just five days after the 30-year-old triggered a multi-car crash while racing for the win in the Money in the Bank 150 at Berlin Raceway.
He was on fresher tires on a late restart when he took leaders Carson Hocevar and Kyle Jones three-wide into Turn 1. That led to contact between Pollard and Hocevar, whom spun and collected Jones and several others in the top-10.
Pollard went on to win the race but admitted on Twitter over the weekend that the decision was a mistake.
Yes I did make a mistake at Berlin but it was with 18 to go. Big difference in getting run over on lap 10,50,100,200 of 400 lap race
— Bubba Pollard (@bubbapollard26) June 26, 2017
Both VanDoorn and ARCA Racing Series Nashville winner (Michigan native) Chad Finley accused Pollard of hypocritical racing considering how Berlin played out at the end. Finley has competed against Pollard for years throughout the east coast and says the close racing is a reflection of the unified Super Late Model rule book more than any particular starting line-up.
“I feel like Midwestern guys have always raced each other clean,” Finley said. “There are always going to be exceptions but that’s racing … I feel like, with how close the racing is right now with our package, that we have to be more aggressive than ever before.”
For what it’s worth, Midwestern based drivers Matt Hall and Trent Snyder shared the original Pollard story on Facebook and cited his point as the reason they haven’t raced as much this year.
Two-time CRA champion Travis Braden sympathizes with Pollard but ultimately believes the issue lies with bullring racing rather than those whom compete on them right now.
“There are some great racers in the CRA and they are not ALWAYS tough to race with,” Braden said via text message. “But there are obviously a few that are harder on you than others. But certain tracks and certain drivers can create issues. I haven’t raced the Redbud in a couple of years because it’s such small place and there has to be give and take there.
“For example, you can catch someone, try to pass cleanly inside, and then try the outside, but they will eventually give you no other choice but to move them out of the way. That makes them mad as if they didn’t cause their own problem. But that’s just part of bullring racing when there isn’t mutual respect on the track.”