Bubba Pollard added another feature to his cap Sunday afternoon by winning the $10,000 ARCA Midwest Tour Joe Shear Classic at Wisconsin International Speedway. The Senoia, Georgia driver took the lead for the first and final time on lap 159 en route to his first career Midwest Tour victory.
“It’s awesome. I’ve got a lot of respect for these guys up here, coming here racing,” Pollard told Speed51.com. “It’s a great group of racers. It’s fun to be able to come up here and race and be competitive with these guys. It’s awesome to get our first ARCA Midwest win.”
During the early stages of the 200-lap main event, it didn’t appear as though Pollard had a car capable of reaching victory lane. After making his way up to third, he fell back near the back half of the top 10 as the race neared the halfway point.
After visiting pit road to reverse a pre-race adjustment made on his No. 26 Super Late Model, Pollard once again began to make his way towards the front and gain track position.
“We made a change right there after qualifying and really missed it in the left front,” he explained. “It took pitting there to get it right, and then after that it was just getting that track position back and making our way back up through there.
“I felt like we just made that one adjustment and I knew it wasn’t right when we took off there. I knew we had a chance to fix it. If it had been an impound race we wouldn’t have gotten that opportunity, but then at the same time we wouldn’t have made that call to change it right after qualifying. It kind of works both ways.”
John DeAngelis jumped out to the early lead and showed the way until a lap 62 restart when defending race winner Austin Nason took over the top spot. The race took a dramatic turn on lap 63 when a broken axle on Ty Majeski’s machine stacked up the field and resulted in a multi-car pileup in turn three. Multiple contenders including Majeski, Carson Kvapil and Dan Fredrickson were eliminated from the race as a result of the crash.
Once the race resumed under green flag conditions, Jacob Goede began pressuring Nason for the race lead. That battle also took a dramatic turn on Lap 78 when the two drivers made contact that sent Nason spinning in turn two and resulted in Goede being penalized for his involvement.
That gave the lead back to DeAngelis, who remained at the front of the field until lap 101 when fast qualifier Casey Johnson made his way by for the top spot. Thirteen laps later, DeAngelis battled back to reclaim the lead for the third time on lap 114.
DeAngelis built up a sizable lead until a caution put Pollard to his inside for a restart with less than 50 laps to go. A few laps later on lap 159, Pollard completed the pass and pulled away from the rest of the field during a long green flag run to complete the race.
Finishing second behind Pollard was the bruised and beaten No. 45 driven by five-time Snowball Derby winner Rich Bickle, Jr. After being involved in the massive pileup on lap 63, Bickle charged through the field late to record his best ARCA Midwest Tour finish since August 2013.
“I got into the 36 (Fredrickson) there and it hit the right front pretty good and bent that, toed it way out. When the 15 come in there and landed on top of the left front, the upper A-frame is bent so bad and the thing won’t hardly turn and it does its own thing down the straightaway. I don’t know how… If the car would’ve been straight, I would’ve given the 26 (Pollard) all he wanted. But to come back from being all bent to hell, that was a good run.”
Following a strong run in the Icebreaker race at Dells Raceway Park to begin the season, Bickle followed it up with another strong run Sunday afternoon. His message to his fellow competitors after the race was quite clear.
“I’m happy with how the season started. Everybody thought I was over the hill, but guess what? I’m going to kick their asses this year somewhere along the line.”
In his attempt to go back-to-back in the Joe Shear Classic, Austin Nason finished in the final podium spot. Casey Johnson finished fourth after leading a handful of laps, while Nick Murgic completed the top five.
Next up for the ARCA Midwest Tour will be a stop at State Park Speedway (WI) on Saturday, May 18.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Joe Shear Classic Official Results
|2||45B||Rich Bickle, Jr.|
|6||7D||John DeAngelis, Jr.|
|9||7S||Paul Shafer, Jr.|
|25||45V||Jeff Van Oudenhoven|