Bubba Pollard stunned the racing world two years ago at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME), winning the prestigious Oxford 250 in his first attempt at the Northeastern crown jewel.
The feat was a remarkable one, as it is a challenge unto itself to race your way into the field for the marquee event, then survive for 250 grueling laps around the tight Oxford Plains bullring. That challenge was evidenced last year, as Pollard finished 42nd in his defense of the 2018 win.
Now preparing for another trip north to Maine, Pollard is confident thanks to his success in 2018 and lessons learned in 2019.
“I feel good. It’s a place that I feel like the first year we had so much success and then we come back last year and struggled,” Pollard told Speed51. “I wouldn’t say struggled, but we were over thinking things. I feel like we hurt ourselves last year. There were a lot of other factors that played along with other circumstances that made us not run as well. We’ve been working hard.”
Part of the allure of the Oxford 250 for Pollard is the atmosphere surrounding the event. That atmosphere may be dimmed slightly with state restrictions limiting the number of fans allowed to attend Sunday’s race,
“It’s a place I enjoy going, it’s a lot of fun. Tom (Mayberry), all those PASS drivers, everyone in that area has been very welcoming for us to come back and have some fun and enjoy it. I hate that we’re going to be limited to the capacity of fans, that’s one reason why I go because it draws a great crowd. Hopefully they still have a good crowd and we’ll put on a good show for them.”
While the crowd may not be as strong as it normally would be for the Oxford 250, there is no doubt the competition will be just as stiff on-track. With the heat race format in lieu of time trials, every lap during Oxford 250 race day matters.
“Just the whole weekend atmosphere, I like the heat races and the race track because it’s racey. I like the campground and seeing all the people camping, that’s awesome. The fans are happy that you come to race with them and there’s so many things that excites us about coming to that race. Hopefully we can keep it going and race it for quite some time now and years to come.”
Pollard also connects to the racers from New England, whether they are Pro All Stars Series regulars or others who take part in the Oxford 250 each year.
“I have a lot of respect for them for the simple fact that I relate that area to the Wisconsin area and the fact that they work on their own equipment. You don’t see the big flashy haulers, you don’t see the rich kid, you see the hard-working every day guy that wants to race. I respect that. We travel and we do a lot of stuff, but I feel like that’s the way I consider our team and our program. It’s a lot like that. Racing against those guys, I’ve got a lot of respect for them and they do a great job. I look forward to racing against them every year.”
Pollard even took some time to watch the last PASS race at Oxford Plains on Speed51, a final tune-up to the Oxford 250. He watched Dave Farrington score the victory, someone he remembered well from his first trip to Oxford.
“I definitely pay attention. I watched the last PASS race at Oxford, learning from those guys and studying what they did, lap times, how they’re working traffic, coming through the field, where they’re starting at. There’s so many different things you can learn from a guy like that. We parked beside Dave the first year and they’re a great group of guys. It’s pretty cool to see him have success up there and do well. There’s a lot you can learn from those guys and we’re always paying attention.”
Race fans can watch Pollard compete in this year’s Oxford 250 live on the new Speed51.TV. Click here to learn more about how you can watch this weekend’s event.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo