Bubba Pollard loves a good challenge. After a busy, successful 2018 season, the Late Model veteran is looking for more short track races to attempt in 2019 – and he’s looking to fans for help in finding them.
Pollard joined the premiere episode of Speed51.com’s “The Morning Bullring” talk show Monday, and talked about his 2019 plans and his triumphs last year, and reached out to fans for input on his future racing schedule. By the end of the interview, fans were tweeting with the hashtag #Bubba2019 or filling the Facebook Live comments for the broadcast with races for Pollard to tackle.
Perhaps the most notable of Pollard’s many achievements last season was winning the Oxford 250 in his first trip to Oxford Plains Speedway (ME). The victory even took Pollard by surprise, but he looks forward to returning to defend his title.
“I’m not going to lie and tell you I felt like we were going to go up there and win,” Pollard said to show hosts Bob Dillner and Casey LaJoie. “I was worried about it. That’s why we went to South Boston and felt like we needed a provisional [with a PASS South win there]. I didn’t know what to expect. With us going up there and winning the race, it caught me off-guard.
“I had no idea how big that race was until I was a part of it,” Pollard added. “I’d like everyone to experience it. I have a lot of respect for that race and Tom Mayberry and what they do at Oxford Plains. It was a lot of fun. It was stressful. I was worried right up until we got to the heat race. I didn’t know what we had because we hadn’t raced around other race cars. Tires mean everything. The sun and the track was changing so much with rubber being laid down. After the heat race, we didn’t transfer but I felt like we had a car to win. We ran the consi and the car felt good. You’ve got to be perfect in those races, and that day we did our jobs.
“I still can’t believe I won that race,” Pollard concluded. “We’re going back this year. It’s something I look forward to being a part of each and every year, going up there and meeting new people, new fans supporting short track racing.”
Along with returning to Oxford and the Canadian Short Track Nationals at Jukasa Motor Speedway (Ont.), Pollard will make another return trip to the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway (VA). Pollard was in contention for the win in the Late Model Stock crown jewel before a late-race incident with Layne Riggs.
He also plans to make his CARS Late Model Stock Tour debut, competing in the $30,000-to-win Old North State Nationals at Orange County Speedway (NC).
“I feel like I want to do some more Late Model Stock races for sure, with Fathead Racing and Jamie Yelton,” Pollard said. “We plan on running the race at Orange County, the $30,000. We want to run at Martinsville, and maybe some other shows throughout the year. I’m excited about that. I was completely shocked when we ran decent at Martinsville and had a shot to win it.
The late-race incident led to a confrontation between Pollard and Riggs’ crew, which Pollard discussed at length during the interview.
“I wasn’t trying to go down there and fight,” Pollard explained. “The kid’s young. His dad’s a hothead. I was just trying to go down there and talk to the guy for the next time we’re racing together. I had never raced against him before. I didn’t know if that something he did frequently or how he raced.
“I just went down there to talk to him to see, the next time I raced with him, how we were going to race, had he made a mistake, what happened? Then the media, nothing against y’all, just everyone gets involved and turns it into something it isn’t. I hate it blew up and the situation was that way, but sometimes it happens.”
One race Pollard had eyeballed was the Milk Bowl at Thunder Road Speedbowl (VT). However, Pollard had concerns about building a race car specifically for the event.
“I really want to go to the Milk Bowl up there in Vermont,” Pollard said. “I’ve looked at the rules, and the rules are so much different. I’d have to build a totally different car to do it. I need some help. I’ve thought about getting in touch with someone, but I don’t know a lot of those guys. I’m all up for it if we can make it happen.”
By the end of the interview, Thunder Road co-owner Cris Machaud told Speed51.com that he was ready to work out a deal to get Pollard a competitive car for the race.
“That sounds good,” Pollard responded. “I’m in. We’ve got a cattle farm, and my dad has cows, so it would be awesome to kiss a cow. I’ve probably kissed one or two, not on purpose. There’s a lot you don’t know about me.”
Bubba also opened the floor for race fans to reach out and suggest where they’d like to see him race, prompting the #Bubba2019 Twitter hashtag.
“I wanted to put something out to see where, if it was feasible, where they would want to see me race at,” Pollard said. “If the fans had ideas of where I need to come race and it was feasible to make it happen, I’d like to see where the fans would like to see me come race.”
Other races Pollard confirmed intentions to run included the Slinger Nationals at Slinger Speedway (WI) and the season-opening Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Model National Championship season-opener at Dillon Motor Speedway (SC), with hopes of announcing full 2019 plans in the next month.
“We’re working on some exciting news for this year,” Pollard said. “It’s just all in the works. It’s probably going to take another month or so, but hopefully in the next couple of weeks we’ll be able to let everyone know what’s going on.”
Pollard even plans to get back into some dirt racing, after very limited participation with his Dirt Late Model in 2018. Pollard is selling his Super Late Model engine, downscaling to a Crate Late Model program in search of a little more fun in the dirt.
“We’re actually selling our Super motor,” Pollard explained. “Going to go back to some Crate racing and do that closer to home. All these big money Crate shows, we might have to run a few of those. We’ve got a big year planned this year. It’s pretty exciting, we’ll see how it goes.”
“I definitely don’t like to lose, I’ll tell you that,” Pollard added. “It’s just like those guys trying to step into our world. It’s tough. Those guys do it for a living, and I was part-time having fun with it. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to win, but I was out of my league. Staying on top of information, knowledge, tires, there’s so much going into it when we don’t do it every week. I feel like if we go back Crate racing, we can have a little fun. That’s what we were missing with our dirt program. I want to win and do well, but it’s all about having fun when we go do that and we missed that with the Super.”
Whether it’s on dirt or asphalt, fans are welcome to chime in on Twitter with #Bubba2019 to let Pollard know where they’d like to see him race in the future.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com