It has been a rarity to see Bubba Pollard away from the top spot on the charts during the 50th Annual Snowball Derby weekend, and Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100 was no different.
Going out among the second half of Pro Late Models, the Senoia, Georgia 2014 event winner laid down a lap of 16.702 seconds. It was slight redemption from the previous night’s outside front row run in the Super Late Model.
“I feel like that was a good effort,” Pollard told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I was bummed out about last night. There was a lot left out there that we didn’t show. All in all, I feel good going into tonight. Take a little bit of notes from tonight with air pressures and stuff that we could possibly take over to tomorrow.”
Pollard added an interesting tidbit regarding strategy over the 100 green flag lap distance around the abrasive ½-mile surface that many would believe would be the opposite.
“You think everyone saves but they don’t during the Snowflake,” Pollard, also a fast qualifier in 2011, noted. “I’ve run this race a couple times and won it, but I’ve never saved not one bit all night. So many good cars here, it’s so tight that you race hard the whole time.”
Young Chandler Smith made it a pair of No. 26 cars on the front row, bettering his performance by one spot from the previous year. However, it was Justin South that was perhaps the feel good story of the afternoon after qualifying third quickest.
“The competitor in me is upset that I didn’t sit on the pole, but really if you take a step back and look at it if you were watching this as it unfolds on TV at home we’ve had a pretty rough time,” South said.
On Friday, his No. 43 was sitting in the pit area without a motor inside and it looked like the Alabama two-time Snowflake fast qualifier was on the brink of loading up.
“That Hamner motor that has been great for me, out of the blue it fired up and it’s got a metal ping in it from nowhere,” South explained. “That was a shock, and then it was an even bigger shock when we couldn’t find what it was and diagnose it. I thought that we were going to go home there for a minute yesterday because I couldn’t find one.”
Then a sincere short track racing gesture came from a veteran racer, who qualified a best career seventh for his 12th career Snowball Derby the night before, in the form of a loaned power plant.
“Everybody helps everybody, and at the same time this is the biggest race in the country for Late Models, so they just can’t stop and help out Justin South, but that’s what Chris Davidson did,” South continued. “I just can’t thank them enough. My guys busted their tails, and I smile when I say that because it’s just nice to know that I’ve got people like that. I really want to do the best I can for them.”
The Alabama driver has been in contention multiple times before but has only mustered a top five finish once in nine previous starts. Nevertheless, the former ARCA competitor knows what he has to do in order to get the job done.
“At the end of the day you’ve got to run all the laps and you’ve got to beat (Pollard),” South mentioned. “We’ve been chasing (Casey Roderick) all year and Bubba’s one of the best racers, period, in Late Models. He manages his tires really good and he rarely makes mistakes, so you have to figure out how to save, be there at the end, but somehow be better than him.
“And that’s the thing; knowing and doing are two different things. Sometimes I want to bite through the steering wheel and I get so eager that it takes somebody on the radio that holds you back. It is the miniature Snowball Derby. I’m excited about it.”
Roderick had unusual qualifying run that was waved off on his dead lap in order to check the smoking car of Carson Hocevar that went out immediately prior to him. That may have been a difference between front row to his seventh fastest run, but the skilled Georgia tandem of he and Ronnie Sanders have navigated these sorts of events with success all season long.
Hocevar redeemed himself after a miscue on his dead lap to power to win the 50-lap Last Chance race that followed.
Race fans can watch every lap of the action on tonight’s Speed51.com live broadcast. Live video tickets can be purchased now by clicking here. Full feature lineup and updates can be viewed on Speed51.com’s Trackside Now as well.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Central NY & PA Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com