Bubba Pollard is widely considered as one of the best active Super Late Model racers in the entire country. He’s won big races such as the All American 400, Winter Showdown and Slinger Nationals. But there’s one race he’s missing from his resume and it’s one of the biggest of them all: The Snowball Derby.
On Sunday, December 3, Pollard will make his way to Five Flags Speedway for his 12th attempt at winning the nation’s most prestigious asphalt Super Late Model race. Throughout his first 11 attempts at winning the Tom Dawson trophy, the Senoia, Georgia driver has learned that winning takes much more than just a fast race car.
“I’m to the point now where it doesn’t matter how good of a race car you’ve got, everything has got to fall in line as far as having a good qualifying run, a good day on pit road, your maintenance program must be up,” Pollard stated. “There’s so many things that can go wrong and so many things that can happen. You’ve got to be on top of your game and it has to be your day. You have to be prepared and it’s all about preparation and just knowing the race.”
Pollard will approach the 50th Annual Snowball Derby as though it’s just another race. Despite the prestige of the race and the boost his resume would receive with a victory, he puts no pressure on himself or his team.
For Pollard, it all comes down to preparation and making the right decision to be there at the end.
“I feel like there’s areas where we’ve struggled throughout the race on Sunday that I feel like we can make ourselves better. Even the small things like track position, air pressure, just things like that you need to take into consideration,” Pollard said of his approach. “Just take the small things and just try to make the best decision you can and capitalize on that. It’s a long day and a long week. All you can do is the best you can to make sure your race car is prepared. We’re just going to treat it like another race, that’s kind of the mentality we’ve had all year.”
Throughout the summer months, Pollard was the man to beat at Five Flags Speedway. He won three of the four Southern Super Series / Blizzard Series races at the track and finished second in the other. With those results, he secured the 2017 Blizzard Series championship and will have a guaranteed starting spot in the 50th Annual Snowball Derby.
But despite those impressive results, there’s not a whole lot that Pollard believes he can transfer over for the biggest race of the year at the Pensacola, FL track.
“We have good race cars every year during the summer at Five Flags. I feel like we’ve had cars capable of winning in the past but I think sometimes we overthink it. I’m guilty of that with things like pressure and stuff like that,” Pollard admitted. “As far as having a good balance on the race car, that’s really the only thing we can take away from this summer. Just having a good starting point when we get there.
“As the race car changes throughout the day as a number of race cars get on the race track, you’ve got to adapt to that. You’ve got to be willing to change and have an open mind when you get to Saturday because the track is different from the time you unload on Thursday. You have to have an open mind to be able to change to the race track.”
Although Pollard plans on approaching the Snowball Derby like any other race, he admits that a victory in the race would be anything but normal.
“A win would maybe take a little stress off of you for the next couple years. It’s a big race. It’s a prestigious race with a lot of history,” Pollard stated. “There are some great race car drivers that have won it and some no names that have won it. It’s all about having a good day. Not only for me, but for my team. We’ve had guys that have stuck with us for the last 10 years. I feel like we’ve got a good team, they’re prepared and it’d mean a lot to them and the family. It’d mean the world for me, but also my team, my family and everyone involved.”
Pollard will attempt to score the biggest victory of his illustrious career on Sunday, December 3 at Five Flags Speedway. Race fans unable to make it to the race track will be able to watch a live, television-style broadcast on Speed51.com.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com