Mooresville, NC – Earnest Performance drivers continued their dominating start to the 2016 season, claiming four of the top five places at the SpeedFest 200. Longtime Earnest Performance driver Bubba Pollard picked up the win, while Harrison Burton, Noah Gragson and Cole Anderson finished second, fourth and fifth respectively.
“It has been a really great start to the year,” said Brannon Earnest, Owner Earnest Performance. “Cole Anderson won two in a row at New Smyrna at the Red Eye and Orange Blossom and then to have Bubba win SpeedFest and place a total of four cars in the top five is pretty awesome.”
Pollard qualified 10th and raced his way up to 7th by the halfway break. Over the final 100 laps, Pollard picked off cars one by one, moving into third on lap 188 and second with two laps to go. Pollard pressured John Hunter Nemechek for the lead on the white flag lap, when William Byron, running third, got into the rear quarter panel of Pollard, pushing Pollard into Nemechek, sending Nemechek for a spin and handing Pollard the lead for a green, white, checkered finish. Pollard held off a hard charging Harrison Burton to take the checkers in his first ever SpeedFest.
“This is one I have always wanted to win and it feels good,” said Pollard. “My car was pretty good all day. I wanted to be careful pressuring for the lead and my focus was to bring home a good finish, but when we got put in a position to win it on that final restart I wanted to get it done.”
Burton, who recently made the switch to the Earnest Performance team of drivers, was forced to race his way into the SpeedFest 200 through the last change qualifier after some trouble in qualifying. After starting 24th, Burton worked his way up to 16th at the halfway point. Burton continued to move up over the final 100 laps and found himself restarting in the second position for a green, white, checkered finish. Burton got a good run on the final lap, getting to the inside of Pollard off of turn number four, but came up half a car length short. Still, his run from 24th to 2nd made him the hard charging car of the day.
“My mindset going into the race was to be careful working up through the pack,” said Burton. “I thought our car handled very well, especially after our halfway break changes. The team adjusted well for the handling issues we had during the first half. Strategy was definitely something that came into play and our team decided to take four tires. The last couple laps were a lot of fun, I enjoyed being able to go out and race hard.”
In total Earnest Performance had thirteen drivers compete at Crisp Motorsports Park for Speedfest. Scotty Ellis (8th place finish) and Steve Dorer (9th place finish) brought home top-ten finishes, while Quinnton Bear (12th place finish) and Kyle Plott (14th place finish) added great runs as well. Other Earnest Performance cars were Wes Griffith Jr. (26th place finish), Brandon Oakley (27th place finish) and Donnie Wilson (30th place finish).
Riley Thorton and Hope Hornish brought home 16th and 17th place finishes respectively in the Pro Late Model SpeedFest 125.
-Earnest Performance Press Release. Photo credit: Heath Lawson/Speed51.com