The Orange Blossom 100 already packed a star-studded entry list to close out Super Late Model competition at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. That list got more impressive with a surprise appearance on Saturday.
Bubba Pollard arrived at New Smyrna Speedway (FL), unloading his Super Late Model to join a field which already boasts the likes of Ty Majeski, Derek Griffith and Stephen Nasse.
At the start of the World Series, Pollard planned to check off a bucket-list item by competing in the Tour-type Modified division at the World Series in a car prepared by Ryan Preece.
However, engine failure sidelined that entry, ending Pollard’s Modified debut. Pollard stayed in New Smyrna for a couple of days after the dilemma, which only intensified the desire to get behind the wheel.
“We had some trouble with the Modified earlier in the week,” Pollard told Speed51. “We stayed down here a couple of days. You just get the itch to run and race.”
Thus, Pollard went back home to Georgia, went to work with his team, and came back with a Super Late Model ready to go for the Orange Blossom 100.
“We went back home, really worked on our cars. They were ready to go, so we decided at the last minute to come down here yesterday, might as well try it out. The only way we’re going to get better is get to the race track and try some of these things we’re working on.
“It was really a last-minute deal. I really didn’t expect to run.”
It may have been a last-minute deal, but Pollard unloaded with speed to compete with the front runners during the week. Pollard was fastest in the first round of Super Late Model practice.
“I was pretty happy with the way it unloaded,” said Pollard. “It didn’t drive all that great, but we unloaded with speed, which is a good thing. We’ll make some decisions, make changes and we’ll be better.”
Pollard will have the assistance of David Rogers’ TM Ranch team on Saturday night. Rogers withdrew from competition in the World Series after damage to both of his cars in incidents during the week, but is at the track Saturday to assist Pollard.
Last year, Pollard drove Rogers’ No. 11 to the World Series championship while Rogers began his fight with cancer.
“There’s no way I could have come down here, with it being last-minute, and raced without these guys,” Pollard said about the team. “They’ve been so good to me the past year. It’s good to have David here checking things out and letting us know what we’re doing wrong. All that knowledge never hurts.”
Despite not racing throughout the week like others in the field, Pollard firmly believes he can go for the win in the 100-lap feature.
“I feel like our team is capable of competing for a win wherever we go each and every week. It should be an exciting race. These other guys have been down here all week and have a little bit of an edge on where the track is going.
“It’s rubbered up, so we’ll be fine. We’ll just make the right decisions and be there at the end.”
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-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo