While a historic Florida Super Late Model went to victory lane with a living legend behind the wheel, another veteran racer rued a missed opportunity on Monday night at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL).
Bubba Pollard, substituting for four-time World Series champion David Rogers, piloted the legendary TM Ranch No. 11 to victory lane, taking the lead from Dan Fredrickson with six laps remaining in the 35-lap Super Late Model feature.
Pollard, competing in the World Series for the first time, was relieved and honored to bring Rogers’ steed to New Smyrna victory lane. Rogers was unable to attend the race as he recovers from a minor surgical procedure, but Pollard celebrated with Rogers’ team on Monday night.
“It feels good,” Pollard told Speed51. “It means a lot to bring this 11 car back to victory lane. David, I wish he could have been here. It’s just a great group of people between him, all these guys, TM Ranch, everybody’s that’s involved with this opportunity. It’s pretty amazing. Never thought I’d get to do this at Speedweeks. They’ve got great stuff and great people. I was just so excited when I got the call to be able to do this.”
Pollard started on the pole for the Monday feature, but lost the lead at the green flag to Fredrickson. Fredrickson led the next 29 laps, but Pollard was never far behind, staying tucked behind the former ARCA Midwest Tour champion throughout the feature.
With six laps to go and pressure from behind, Fredrickson washed up the race track in turn three, collecting the outside wall and opening the door for Pollard.
Fredrickson chalked up the mistake to overdriving, knowing Pollard had closed in on him and was quick enough to pass him.
“I just got greedy on my entry, trying to get out and get a big, wide entry,” said Fredrickson. “I got up in the marbles getting into [turn] three, and that was the end of it. It was a mistake. I felt like Bubba was catching me there and rolling through the center a little better than me. I knew I had to do something. I was getting all I could get, and a little more than I could get, I guess.”
Pollard felt he had a better race car, but that Fredrickson would have been difficult to pass without a mistake.
“I was putting some pressure on him,” Pollard explained. “We had a better race car. I could get a run on him through the center, and he kept me pinched down. It was what he needed to do to win the race.
“He finally messed up, looking in the mirror or whatever he was doing, and we were able to capitalize on it,” Pollard continued. “It would have been tough to pass him. We would have had to move him out of the way a little bit. We were definitely better.”
Fredrickson limped his wounded car home to an eighth-place finish. He had not had a chance to assess the damage when speaking post-race but vowed he would make sure the car was back in tip-top shape when it returned to the track instead of rushing to get it repaired just to make the Tuesday show.
“I haven’t looked at it yet,” said Fredrickson. “I bought this car from Chris Wimmer, and he’s got a lot of parts. I’m going to talk to him. We’ll fix it right, whether that means it takes a day or two or it’s ready for tomorrow, I don’t care about the points or anything like that. I just want to get it done and do the best we can. We’ll get over here, fix it right, and hopefully be back.”
Brad May finished second, while Gabe Sommers came home third. Colin Garrett and Sam Mayer, who had both competed in the New Smyrna 175 for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East earlier in the evening, finished fourth and fifth.
Race fans can find on-demand coverage of Monday's race by visiting Speed51.com's Trackside Now.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com