When the first look at the Snowball Derby entry list was released Sunday night, it took only one minute for race fans on social media to begin asking why Bubba Pollard was entered in a No. 71 car. On Monday morning, Pollard joined Speed51’s “The Bullring” to explain why he’s not driving his typical No. 26 Super Late Model.
Pollard confirmed on the show that he will be driving the TK Racing No. 71 Super Late Model for VanDoorn Racing Development, a car that was driven to Winchester 400 and Redbud 400 wins by Carson Hocevar earlier this season.
“I will be racing for TK Racing and Mr. Tom. I can’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity to race at the Derby with VanDoorn Racing Development and Johnny and Butch,” Pollard said. “They do a great job. They’re hard workers. We put this deal together in a short period of time, and I’m excited about it.”
Following his Florida Governor’s Cup 200 victory Sunday afternoon, Pollard appeared to be more emotional than he typically is. In addition to winning the race for the late David Rogers, Pollard explained why he was so emotional.
“A lot of yesterday had to do with that,” he said. “Since 2016, we have been with Senneker Performance and Terry. I feel like he’s put me in a spot where I’m at today. We’ve always won races and we’ve always been lucky and we’ve always been successful with things. We’ve been able to travel and win a lot of races and win some big races like the Oxford 250 and things like that.
“Things change over time and we are planning to do something a little different for next year, and that includes the Snowball Derby. At the end of the day, we don’t want hard feelings with anyone. It was a very tough time and a very tough decision for me. It’s more than just a race car for us; it’s a friendship. It’s like a big family, and it still is. We’ve left on good terms with each other and I wish them the best. We’ll have a good friendship with them for years to come.”
Pollard didn’t originally plan on competing in the Governor’s Cup. However, he saw the race as one final opportunity to go out on top with a chassis manufacturer that he’s experienced a lot of success with.
“Yesterday was big for the simple fact that I wasn’t planning on going to the Governor’s Cup. I decided to sit it out for this year,” he explained. “We’ve had such a good run the past four years and then we kind of struggled the last couple weeks. I wanted to go out with a win and on top with Terry and show everyone his race cars are good and they are capable of winning races. That was my goal for yesterday.”
Moving forward, there are still many details that need to be ironed out in regards to Pollard’s plans with TK Racing. The only thing for certain is that Pollard will be behind the wheel of the TK Racing No. 71 for the Snowball Derby on December 2-6.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about the situation. There’s still a lot of things to sort out and plan for next year,” Pollard said. “For right now, we just plan to run this car at the Derby and see what goes on from there. It’s come about in a short period of time, just about two weeks ago. It’s not something that’s been planned. It just happened all of a sudden, really quick.”
Pollard will enter the Snowball Derby with momentum on his side as the driver, as well as with confidence in the race car he’ll be driving. He believes that combining forces with TK Racing at a track he’s had success at will be a winning formula.
“Momentum and confidence goes the long way. And then having Carson there and the success he’s had this year, it shows their cars are capable of winning. I feel like Pensacola is one of my better race tracks that we go to. We had a talk about whether the Derby should be the first race. I think it’s a good place to start because it’s a place I’m good at, and their cars are capable of winning each and every week.
“Racing changes drastically pretty quickly in the racing industry. You have to keep up with it and you have to stay on top. You’re going to have seasons like we’ve had and you can’t give up. I felt like it was time to make some decisions, move on and do some things.”
A full on-demand replay of Pollard’s interview on The Bullring will be available soon on Speed51.TV.
The 53rd Annual Snowball Derby will be broadcast live on Speed51.TV, December 2-6. Pay-per-view tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51 Content Manager
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo