Throughout the years, Bubba Pollard has shown that he likes to do some travelling. The 30-year-old Georgia driver has raced at tracks all across the United States of America from New Smyrna Speedway in Florida to Evergreen Speedway in Washington State on the opposite corner of the country. He’s also proven that he can win just about everywhere he goes. Just look at his page on 51’s TheThirdTurn.com for proof of that. So finding tracks that he hasn’t won at is very difficult. Finding tracks that he hasn’t raced at is even harder.
One of those rare tracks that checks off both of those boxes is the historic Greenville Pickens Speedway in South Carolina. On February 3rd, Pollard is checking off at least one of those boxes with hopes of completing both tasks when he races at the $10,000-to-win Meltdown at Greenville Pickens.
Pollard told Speed51.com on Monday afternoon that his goal for 2018 is to improve his team’s flat track program, and he felt that Greenville is the perfect place to work on that goal. However, Pollard has never made any laps at the legendary half-mile oval.
“I’ve done some testing there with other people before but I’ve never driven at Greenville before, so that’ll be a new challenge,” said Pollard. “I’ve heard a lot about that place, and that’s where we need to go to get our flat track program up to par.”
One of the things Pollard has proven throughout his years racing is that he’s a quick-learner. On multiple occasions he’s gone to a track for the first time and has won. He pulled that off twice in 2015 when he went to California’s Kern County Raceway and won the SRL Winter Showdown and then followed that up that summer with a trip to victory lane at Washington’s Evergreen Speedway at the Summer Showdown. Pollard said it doesn’t take him very long to feel comfortable at a new race track.
“Usually after the first run you get a general idea,” he explained. “I like to walk around the race track to get the general characteristics of the track. Every track is unique. I look at the race track. I also like walking the track backwards, which is odd. I feel like I can see more things walking the track backwards on the race track than I can going the right direction. So after the first run we’ll kind of get a feel for things, get settled down and talk about the line and grip levels and characteristics of the race track and then see how it goes.”
Pollard said that running the Meltdown at Greenville serves multiple purposes. One of those purposes is that it’s a flat track and he wants to improve his flat track program. Another purpose is that it’s close to home as it’s just 188 miles from the track to his home in Senoia, Georgia. And a third reason is that the race is paying out a nice $10,000 to win it.
“You look at SpeedFest (in Cordele, Georgia) and between the two races you can win $15,000. You go to Greenville the next weekend and it’s $10,000. That’s two really good races and staying close to home rather than spending $20,000 to go to California. It just makes more sense for us cost-wise. I always like going new places and Greenville had a big race and that’s one of those places I’ve never been. I always like going to new places and trying to win and racing against new people so it’ll be awesome.”
One of the unique features of Greenville Pickens is how much the track cherishes its history. One only has to walk into the track to see that right away. The names of Ralph Earnhardt, Mardy Lindley, Butch Lindley and more are painted on the walls as former track champions.
The names who have won races at Greenville is legendary as well. Names like Richard Petty, Bobby Isaac, Ned Jarrett, Junior Johnson, and more have all won at the challenging track. Pollard is hoping he can add his name to that list.
“It would be really cool. You walk in the place and see all these guys that have their names on the wall. That’s what racing is all about,” said Pollard. “That’s pretty cool. Hopefully one day over these years we can win some races and be a part of that. It’s cool to walk into the place and see the different people that have raced there and won there. To get the opportunity to do that would be pretty neat.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com