HIGHLIGHTS: 48th Annual Oxford 250
After finishing 1-2 in the LCQ, both drivers picked off car by car throughout the event. When the checkered flag fell, both drivers found themselves in the top 10. Sanborn tied his 2020 result with an eighth, while Pollard finished 10th.
While the two had similar showings during the main event, the journey to get there could not have been more different. Sanborn started off the day struggling through preliminary races, finish 10th in his heat and sixth in his consi. Just before the LCQ, he and his team made wholesale changes to his No. 29 and it found life.
“Before we got to the last chance race, I didn’t know what to think with why we were struggling so bad,” Sanborn told Speed51. “We made some changes before the last chance race and the car was just awesome, it was just really fast. When I took the lead I was just riding around. When the caution came with two to go I knew that I could stay ahead of Bubba because I wasn’t pushing it when he got to second anyways. There was a turn of events then.”
He had contested the Oxford 250 the previous year with the same car, but had a much easier time getting himself locked into the show after transferring through his heat race. Sanborn’s weekend started off in a similar fashion after showing speed throughout three days of practice, but the car had taken a turn for the worse during his heat race.
The year before with this same car, I felt like we had a shot at it. After the heat races and even practicing all weekend, we were still anywhere from fifth to 15th fastest in speed and I thought we still had a shot at it. After those heat races I was really hanging my head and after throwing the kitchen sink at it and wholesaling it, I knew as soon as they threw the green in that race that I had a car to run up front and possibly win that race. – Trevor Sanborn
Pollard had shown speed all weekend throughout practice and prelim races, but he says driver mistakes kept him behind the eight-ball and nearly out of the Oxford 250 entirely. A spin early in his heat race relegated him to a tenth-place finish, and he wouldn’t fare as well in his consi. After starting deep in the LCQ, he drove through the field to finish second behind Sanborn before receiving a provisional.
“We had a good race car all weekend but I made some mistakes in the heat race and the consi there that put us behind so bad. Tires went crazy during the heat,” Pollard stated. “If we could’ve started the race with some track position we could’ve worked on it a little bit. It makes for a long day, I put us behind.”
The two drivers chatted during driver intros about a plan to get to the front. They would end up following each other through two and three-wide battles for the majority, with the two hitting their peaks at different times. Sanborn was as high as sixth late in the race, while Pollard managed to crack the top-five just before pit stops with 74 laps to go.
For Sanborn, the plan was simple – don’t go a lap down.
“I talked to Bubba while we were back there and he asked me what I was going to do. I said I’m going to put it in the second and third groove and drive it as far as I can so I don’t get lapped right off the bat because you know as well as I do, as soon as they throw the green we’re in turn three and the leaders are in the start/finish line. You can get lapped in 30 laps there.”
“The plan was just to stay on the lead lap. I knew we had a good enough car to run inside the top-15, top-10 easy and we got all the way up to I think 8th before we pitted. The plan was just to not get lapped.”
Pollard’s 10th place finish would be his best run in the race and the first time he finished since he won the Oxford 250 back in 2018.
“Some of these guys are tough to pass because they want to block you pretty good. It’s fun, I understand that we’re all fighting for the same deal, track position’s so important. It’s fun racing with these guys, I have a lot of respect for them and they race well up here.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo