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Pollard, Nasse and Roderick marvel on NASCAR night at Five Flags

Pollard scored his 25th Blizzard win as Elliott, Harvick struggle

Daniel Vining

On a night in which most of the crowd came to watch NASCAR stars Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott, the Big Three of Southern Super Late Model racing put on a show that encouraged them to come back in the future.

Bubba Pollard won the Busch Light 100 at Five Flags Speedway but had to get by Casey Roderick and hold off Stephen Nasse to do it.

With the exception of December, when the likes of Ty Majeski from Wisconsin and Derek Thorn from California join them to threaten for the Snowball Derby, both Southern Super Series races and the Snowball Derby run through The Big Three.

Pollard, who was fourth fastest in time trials, was forced to start eight due to the positional redraw but methodically worked his way through the field. Meanwhile, Roderick started third after posting the second fastest time in qualifying and took the lead from Dylan Fetcho six laps into the race.

From there, with only a halfway break slowing the race, it was up to Pollard to close the gap but also not use up his rear tires on the abrasive Florida half mile. Pollard got there with 30 laps to go and it took 11 laps to size up the Anthony Campi Racing No. 26 but made the pass with 19 to go and drove away.

Pollard has now won a record 25 Blizzard Series races, the four spring and summer regular season races at Five Flags that pave the path to the Snowball Derby.

Crossing the finish line, he thanked his crew and told them how much he appreciated them, and that he really wanted this one.

How come?

“Oh, a lot of things,” Pollard said after clearing tech. “Some personal things. Really, we’ve struggled down here a bit, hit or miss at a place I have always considered a home and grew up at, so that makes it special.”

Pollard said he realized from the green that he had a winning car.

“You can tell,” Pollard said. “I knew on the start and restart, I needed to get by those guys like Harvick and then Cole, because you give up track position on this tire and with us all being so close, you have to be aggressive.

“I knew I needed to do that but I didn’t know what we had. You never know. I knew we would have the competition yellow on 50. So I settled down with 15 to go in the first half and saved a little bit. I got aggressive again and then once I got the lead, I was just praying for no caution.

“Before that, I knew I needed to put pressure on Casey because Nasse was coming and I needed to put him between us and then was able to pull away.”

But again, 25 regular season wins at a track where all the greats come at some point or the other, including Elliott and now Harvick. William Byron has won here. Daniel Hemric. John Hunter Nemechek. All the local legends like Augie Grill, Mike Garvey, Eddie Mercer, Roderick and Nasse.

“It means I’m getting old and been doing this too long,” Pollard said. “It’s a big deal because this place shaped me as a racer. I learned to race here and against those that raced here. So, to have a lot of success, it means a lot.”

Nasse had to drive from 10th and that ultimately made a difference for him.

“Bubba had a good car tonight,” Nasse said. “We just had a bad qualifying spot, and that really put us behind. There were a lot of good cars out there tonight. Everybody was able to hold the bottom pretty good. It was tough to get around them.

“I was able to make some pretty good ground there and I thought I’d have a shot. I guess I didn’t have more left than Bubba did. Good job to those guys. We’re just going to have to work on it. We’ve got a pretty good car.”

And for Roderick, it was more of the same, a season full of so many podiums but still seeking his first win of the season.

“Close, so close,” Roderick said. “I feel like we made huge gains in practice this week, working on some of the things I’m feeling. We’re starting to cut really good on the front end but something is going on to where later in the run, and when the car lands in the corner … and it wasn’t the issue we have been having, getting free, but I needed to cut better because I was losing the right rear, later in the run, on entry.”

Again, Roderick is leading the ASA national standings and Southern Super Series standings, second in Blizzard points to Nasse so it’s not like they’re bad.

“We’re not bad,” he said. “Second and thirds aren’t bad but we’ve got them down pat and we need to get a win down pat. Everyone at ACR, Team Platinum, they work too hard and I want to get them in Victory Lane really bad.”

From a performance standpoint, neither Elliott nor Harvick had an on-track day to remember. Elliott said his car was ‘loose, loose, loose’ and that knocked him from the lead to a lap down before the halfway break. He finished 16th and off the lead lap. Harvick finished 13th in his Super Late Model debut but the past two days were an education.

“These cars are a lot of fun,” Harvick said with an emphasis that suggested he meant it too. “The best thing about tonight was that the whole track was full too. That’s really what we want to do, go race with full grandstands and good fields of cars too.”

What did he like about the car?

“It’s fast,” he said. “You burn the back tires off it when  you’re not right. I want to run the races with these guys in it because I really like these racers. I like our CARS Tour and Late Model Stock guys too but I really like Bubba Pollard, Casey Roderick. This is my idea of fun right now. And yeah, we struggled a little bit but I also need a project like this, something to work on and get better at in this stage of my career, and I’m going to get better running against the guys because they are the best at what they do.

Busch Light Night at the Races 100
Five Flags Speedway
June 28 2024

  1. Bubba Pollard
  2. Stephen Nasse
  3. Casey Roderick
  4. Matt Craig
  5. Cole Butcher
  6. Jacob Gomes
  7. Michael Hinde
  8. Connor Okrzesik
  9. Jackson Boone
  10. Jeremy Doss
  11. Dylan Fetcho
  12. Michael Atwell
  13. Kevin Harvick
  14. Dustin Smith
  15. Billy VanMeter
  16. Chase Elliott
  17. Jonathan Knee
  18. Michael Goddard
  19. Conner Sutton
  20. John Bolen
  21. Jake Finch
  22. Allen Karnes

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 also has extensive experience covering NASCAR, IndyCar and Dirt Sprint Cars.

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