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Pollard Earns Place In SRX Five Flags Field

Pollard’s Pensacola performance secured him a starting spot alongside the regular stars slated for SRX’s visit to Five Flags Speedway in June.

Bubba Pollard stands by his car during driver introductions for the 2019 Oxford 250. The short-track hero will represent the Southeast in June's SRX season opener at Five Flags Speedway. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Another piece of the puzzle is in place for the second-season roster for the Superstar Racing Experience. And Southeastern short track fans will be pleased.

Bubba Pollard finished second and fourth in last weekend’s Southern Super Series PepperJack Kennels Twin 100s at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., the site of SRX’s 2022 lidlifter.

And while Pollard’s trophies did not rival Friday-night winner Stephen Nasse’s or Saturday winner Derek Thorn’s, his third-place average finish earned him a trophy of a different kind.

A guaranteed berth in the June 18th all-star showdown in Pensacola.

The Senoia, Ga. native will aim to follow in the footsteps of Doug Coby, Luke Fenhaus and Kody Swanson, taking on SRX’s full-time cast of motorsports heroes and veterans in search of an upset victory, at least from the perspective of the television audience.

The brainchild of NASCAR Cup Series and Indy Racing League champion Tony Stewart and legendary crew chief Ray Evernham, SRX debuted in 2021 as a fresh take on the long-defunct International Race of Champions circuit. SRX borrowed the multidisciplinary motorsports all-star concept of IROC, augmenting it with a selection of America’s most exciting paved and dirt short tracks. SRX events were tailored for television out of the box, formatted to fit a two-hour Saturday-night programming block, with CBS taking the broadcast reins.

Facing IROC’s challenge of accommodating the national schedules of active racers, SRX opted instead to use a selection of part-time and retired drivers to fill the grid. Adding to the intrigue of each track on the schedule, a roster slot was reserved for a “local legend,” a driver with a strong tie to the track or its region’s racing ecosystem.

Pollard certainly fits the billing. Pavement short track fans need no introduction to the man dubbed “Redneck Jesus.” The decidedly blue-collar Pollard has earned his accolades not only in his native Southeast, but across North America, with wins at the All-American 400, the Canadian Short Track Nationals, the Oxford 250, the Slinger Nationals, and the World Series at New Smryna Speedway, just to scratch the surface.

With 24 major feature wins at Five Flags Speedway, including a pair of Snowflake 100s, Pollard is sure to contend at the wheel of an SRX car as well.

Doug Coby set the expectations for SRX’s “local legends” sky-high, winning the series’ first race ever at Stafford Motor Speedway. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Coby, a multi-time NASCAR Modified Tour champion, set the expectations high for SRX’s “local legends” last year, holding off Greg Biffle to win the inaugural SRX event at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway. Coby’s performance opened the door for the 42-year-old to make his NASCAR national touring debut that summer.

Dirt racing legend Scott Bloomquist did not live up to Coby’s performance at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway a week later, but Kody Swanson finished second to Tony Stewart in the season’s third event at Eldora Speedway in Ohio. Open-wheel ace Bobby Santos III came in fifth in the next race at Lucas Oil Raceway. Luke Fenhaus quite nearly replicated Coby’s feat at Slinger Speedway in Wisconsin, but finished second after Marco Andretti nudged the youngster aside in the final laps.

Fenhaus, a rising star in the Midwest, earned his SRX berth by winning the Slinger Nationals earlier that week. The opportunity to race into the SRX show was, at the time, a unique proposition.

But so far, three of this year’s six SRX venues have announced similar promotions to name their local star.

Stafford followed Slinger’s approach, with the winner of the upcoming Spring Sizzler Tour-type Modified showdown earning the “local legend” slot. Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway has put the roster slot out for a fan vote, with Pollard and rival Stephen Nasse among the six racers vying for the honor.

With Pollard still courting votes for the Nashville event, he could be positioning himself for two opportunities for national success.

Regardless, Pollard faces a tall order in June. With 2021 feature winners Tony Stewart, Marco Andretti and Ernie Francis, Jr. leading the charge, Pollard’s quest for a primetime victory will not be without challenge.

But if anyone can rise to the challenge, leave it to “Redneck Jesus.”

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Jeff Brown is a contributor to Short Track Scene. A native of New Hampshire and a long-time fan of New England racing, Brown provides a fan's perspective as he follows New England's regional Late Model touring series.

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