Justin South has an opinion, but Bubba Pollard doesn’t care to hear it.
Pollard dominated the Baby Rattler 125, but contact with South coming off turn four allowed Stephen Nasse to win Saturday’s Pro Late Model event at South Alabama Speedway.
Over the last handful of laps, Pollard inched away from South, seemingly cruising to a third-straight Rattler 125 Pro Late Model win. However, Pollard approached the outside of the lapped car of Austin Wood on the final lap of the race and the outcome of the race was turned upside-down.
Off turn two, Pollard worked the high lane, allowing South to close more than five car lengths as the duo entered turn three. In the middle of the final corner, South’s right front made contact with Pollard’s left rear, spinning the No. 26.
“I was trying to win the race,” South said. “I had a choice to drive in there easy and finish second and let him (Pollard) win like he has so many times before. I didn’t go in there meaning to wreck him, but I was trying to win the race. If that meant roughing him up or getting in to his door…I got into him and he spun out.”
Pollard led 84 of the event’s 125 laps, but officially came home 12th, after finishing the race in reverse following the altercation with South. The two-time defending Baby Rattler winner had a conversation with South on the front stretch while officials worked to come to a decision.
Pollard cared little for South’s relocation of the last lap incident.
“I got spun,” Pollard simply said. “It just shows what kind of race car driver he is. He can say whatever he wants to. I don’t care.”
South crossed the finished line first, but race officials made the decision to send Nasse to victory lane.
South Alabama Speedway Race Director Kevin Chance said the decision to put South to the rear was clear and obvious, per the track rules enacted following a late-race tangle between Sam “Shanky” Smith and Johanna Long in 2007.
“Several years ago, Johanna Long dumped Shanky Smith on the last lap,” Chance said. “After that, track owner John Dykes made a rule that the last lap is treated like every other lap. That is done to protect the leaders and all lead-lap cars from being dumped on the last lap to win a race or gain a position. The officials discussed it, and all reached the same call. It appeared as if Justin South went high and drove in to Bubba Pollard.”
South went to the scoring tower following the event for clarification of the ruling. He whole-heartedly disagrees with the decision to take the win away.
“I crossed the finished line first,” South said. “I don’t give a s—t. They aren’t going to take this one away from me. Somebody in a booth – not in tech or on the race track – with a radio and plain clothes took the win away from us.”
Nasse inherited the win based on the race director’s decision, never leading an official lap.
Although he didn’t win the race on the track, Nasse will gladly take the snake trophy back to Pinellas Park, Florida.
“When I came across the line, I saw the 26 (Pollard) sitting there,” Nasse said. “I asked the crew if he spun on his own or if he got wrecked. When they told me he got spun, I figured we might have a chance to win it. It’s not how we want to win, but I will take it all day long and twice on Sunday.”
The win is Nasse’s first Pro Late Model win since August 13, 2011 at Gresham Motorsports Park. That win was also Nasse’s most recent win outside of his home state of Florida.
“I’ve known that we can do it for a long time,” Nasse stated with an ear-to-ear grin. “We have always been a contender out-of-state, but just haven’t been able to close the deal. We have been close, but haven’t put the whole package together. Even this weekend we didn’t, but we were there at the end and put ourselves in a spot to win.”
Jeremy Pate came home second and Bobby Knox, Jr. rounded out the podium.
Stay tuned to Speed51.com and the Speed51 Network for full race highlights, including the incident between South and Pollard.
Many of the major players in Saturday's PLM 125 will be in action in the Southern Super Series Super Late Model Rattler 250 Sunday. Fans unable to make it to South Alabama Speedway can tune in to a live video stream on Speed51 TV. Click here to order the live broadcast.
To replay the Speed51.com Trackside Now coverage of the Rattler 125, click here.
-By Ryan McCullough, Speed51.com Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com