Bubba Pollard held off several late challenges to add another win to his storied career Saturday, taking the $10,000 payday in the CARS Super Late Model Tour season opener at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC).
Pollard held off threats from Preston Peltier and Mason Diaz in the closing laps to secure the victory.
“Those guys were good, they were coming on strong there at the end,” Pollard told Speed51. “We had saved just enough. The restarts helped us out. We just really had too much motor on the long run, but it paid off on the restarts because we could jump out on them.”
One of those competitors fell by the wayside with seven laps to go, as Diaz spun after contact with Peltier with seven laps to go. This set the stage for a final restart, where Peltier closed in on Pollard but couldn’t seal the deal.
“Preston was able to close the gap there at the end when he got to second,” Pollard said. “You’re holding on just like the rest of them.”
Peltier was very pleased with the performance of his Newton Concrete entry, but couldn’t find a way around Pollard for the win.
“I think we had the best car here,” said Peltier. “You take the restarts out of the equation and this thing was just badass. Man, I did everything I could trying to get by Bubba. He’s a real smart racer. He knows how to hold me up with a little bit slower car. It’s so hard to pass here.”
As for the incident with Diaz, Peltier chalked it up to hard racing after Diaz had gotten loose on corner entry.
“He got loose getting in,” Peltier explained. “I thought he gathered it up, but there was enough that I could get underneath him, and then he got sideways again. When he did, he came down into my right-front. He went around. I really hate that for Mason. Late in the race, we’re doing what we can to win the race. I’m sure he’ll understand.”
Diaz felt the contact was avoidable and he had gathered his car back up but had discussed the incident with Peltier after the race.
“I thought I could get underneath [Pollard], and then I got free in the corner and chased up the track,” said Diaz. “Next thing I know, I saved it all the way through the corner, got back straight, and I got turned. The 33 [of Peltier] hit me. He came down and apologized to me.
“I think he might have been able to slow down a little bit and let me get it or go low,” Diaz continued. “I had it saved. It is what it is. We were planning on running this race and we had a winning car.”
Before the incident, Diaz had closed to Pollard’s back bumper in his own challenge for the top spot.
“We got on the restart [with 27 laps to go], we were going hard, I got to second. We caught lapped traffic and that really helped me out because Bubba was four or five car-lengths out and I got to his bumper. We got there, and it just started getting free”
Brandon Setzer came home with the final podium spot after an up-and-down day. Setzer qualified seventh but fell into the field with a poor-handling race car. Nonetheless, his experience and skill in tire management over long races brought him into the fold in the closing laps.
“I love these tire-saving races,” Setzer said. “The car just wasn’t where we needed it to be all during the race. We started off way too tight. I don’t know if the track rubbered up from the Late Model Stock race or what. We were really bad the whole race and stayed bad.
“It seemed like everyone kept getting worse and coming to me,” Setzer continued. “We never got better, they just got worse. I love these tire-saving races. I wish we could have had a little bit more car. That was a blast racing with Preston and Bubba the last eight laps. We were nose-to-tail, Fryar was right there too. They were bumping and banging. I was hoping they’d slip up a little bit and I’d be right there.”
For Pollard, the victory marks the 21stdifferent track where the Senoia, Georgia driver has been to victory lane in Late Model competition. The win also adds $10,000 to his account in the early stages of a new racing season.
“It’s nice. $10,000, a small team like us, it goes a long way,” Pollard said. “I can’t thank my guys enough. All these guys on the side of the race car that make this possible.”
The CARS Tour returns to action at Hickory Motor Speedway on March 23. Both the Late Model Stocks and Super Late Models will compete in 150-lap features that day at the “Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars.”
Race fans who missed out on Saturday’s action can click here to visit our Trackside Now updates from the race.
Unofficial Results – CARS Super Late Model Tour
Southern National Motorsports Park – Lucama, N.C.
March 9, 2019
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo / Casey LaJoie