Sitting in the stands for the third Show Me the Money Series event of 2018, you would have never guessed that four years separated John Bolen and his last podium finish at Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL).
Redolent of the series’ earlier years, Bolen ran a strong race against two other Alabaman household names— Augie Grill and Justin Smith— before taking home a second-place finish like he never skipped a beat.
Bolen’s finish marks the successful revival of a Pro Late Model program that all but vanished in 2014. After competing intermittently for a handful of years, Bolen decided this season would be all or nothing.
“We raced pretty heavy there for several years and just got kind of burnt out,” Bolen said. “But racing here and there, you find out real quick after a couple of years that you can’t race sporadic nowadays and be able to compete. It’s almost like you’re either in or out.”
Getting reassurance in the form of a runner-up finish, Bolen knows he and his team have what it takes to be competitive again, despite the No. 2 machine sitting idle for so long.
“[Second-place] was a relief,” Bolen said. “We’ve been working hard and putting a lot of effort into these cars and it’s good to know that work wasn’t all wasted. We’re definitely making more progress.”
Even with a boost of confidence heading into the next race of the series this weekend, Bolen is keeping his objectives modest. It’s no secret that the Pro Late Model scene got a facelift from Georgia in 2017.
“[Casey Roderick’s] car is on a whole other level nowadays,” Bolen said. “It’s tough to get a win, especially when guys like Casey are there on their game week in and week out. We’re still a little way from being a winning car, but I think we’ve got a good shot at a strong top five.”
Regardless of his realistic approach, Bolen will still show up to Montgomery Motor Speedway with one thing on the back of his mind.
“A win is always what you’re there for,” Bolen said. “We’re going to keep moving the bar higher, keep setting goals - that’s how we’ve set the whole year out. But it would be a relief to perform beyond our expectations.
“Anytime you can beat the top couple of people that come to Montgomery, that means a lot and shows a lot for what you’re doing with your program,” Bolen added.
Bolen’s bar could be raised to the ultimate level, competing in the 51st Annual Snowball Derby, pending a smooth end to the season at Montgomery.
“We’re not sure whether we’re going to run the Snowflake or Snowball, but it’s been in our talk,” Bolen said. “We’ll definitely plan on running something down there, but we’ve still got quite a bit of racing left this year to kind of figure out where that puts us.”
Feature racing begins at 8:00 p.m. ET this Saturday at Montgomery Motor Speedway. Race fans who can’t make it to the Alabama half-mile can watch it live via Speed51.com’s Summer Thunder TV presented by PFC Brakes.
All you need to be able to watch is a monthly or yearly Speed51 Video Network subscription. Click here for more information.
-Melissa Strahley, Gulf Coast Editor
-Photo Credit: Melissa Strahley/Speed51.com