Bubba Pollard has been dominant in Super Late Models this year throughout the Southeast. On Saturday night he proved once again he can be just as impressive in the Pro Late Model ranks as he captured his fifth straight Lee Fields Memorial title at Mobile International Speedway in Alabama.
Pollard took advantage of a slip up by Mike Garvey on lap 73 to take the lead and went on to win, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. The Senoia, GA driver faced a nearly five second deficit at one point to early race leader Justin South and Garvey. Pollard did all that without the assistance of a caution as the race went in a race that went green for the full 100 laps.
“I had to run hard there pretty much the whole race, because those guys (South and Garvey) were setting a pretty fast pace.” Pollard told Speed51 powered by JEGS. “I had to try and save my stuff plus run them down and that’s tough. That’s all she had left there at the end. 100 laps was it.”
Garvey came into the night looking to extend his current Pro Late Model win streak to five, but after running down early leader South from 2.6 seconds behind, his Tracy Goodson Racing car was just too used up to hold off Pollard in the end.
“I was trying not to even worry about catching (South) and just kind of run the pace. In hindsight it was still just a little bit too much on the car. I need to save my stuff just a little bit better,” admitted Garvey.
Although his car was stronger than anyone entering the corners, it was lack of forward bite that ultimately bit Garvey.
“That’s where Bubba (Pollard) was a little better than us at the end. He could get up off the corner straighter than I could. I needed just a tiny bit more traction coming up off and our tire pressure showed that.”
For Garvey, who is still seeking his first Lee Fields Memorial title, a second place run to Pollard provides plenty of optimism for his team.
“Bubba runs so good here. We’ve finally closed the gap on him. Before we couldn’t even run with him, now we’ve caught him and we’re racing with him. We’ll just keep digging and making it a little better.”
Justin South crept up the leader board during the afternoon practice sessions and eventually set fast-time in qualifying. South would start on the outside of the front row after the invert and opened up a commanding lead of nearly three seconds over Garvey throughout the opening 39 laps before he lost the handling on his car.
“The car was really good in qualifying and at the start. It just faded on me. I ran really hard early and it just went away from me,” said South.
South would hang on to finish seventh while pole-sitter Riley Thornton stayed towards to the front the entire race to take home the third and final podium spot.
The Pro Late Models crowned Josh Bragg as their 2014 Track Champion as he took down a top ten finish. The division was making it’s final appearance of 2014 at the Irvington, Alabama track. For Bragg it is his third straight track championship.
Pollard’s night did not end with the Pro Late Model 100. As he often does, Pollard did double duty. After setting fast time in the Pro Trucks, Pollard survived an off-track excursion on lap 8 of the 25 lap race to restart back in 8th. Pollard just barely made it back out of the pits in time for the restart and battled back to finish fourth.
After the top three Trucks were disqualified in post-race tech, the win was awarded to Pollard giving him two trips to victory lane on the night.
“This was a long day, but it turned out to be a pretty good night,” said a smiling Pollard as his truck was wheeled to victory lane for the 2:30am photo op.
“We really gotta thank all the fans that stuck it out and hung in there. This place wouldn’t even be here without them and we just really appreciate it.”
The faithful southern Alabama fans endured a four-plus hour rain delay to ultimately witness what is traditionally the biggest lineup of races on the year for the Mobile Int’l Speedway.
MIS will be back in action to play host to the 2014 Southern Super Series season finale on Saturday September 20th. During the afternoon drivers meeting, Pro Late Model drivers were informed that the track is putting up a $500.00 bonus to the highest finishing ‘legal’ Pro Late Model for that event.
For more information, visit www.MobileSpeedway.net.
- By Mark Keeler - Speed51.com correspondent - Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo
Lee Fields Memorial
Pro Late Models 100
- #26Bubba Pollard
- #1Mike Garvey
- #21Riley Thornton
- #99Wayne Niedecken Jr
- #11Johanna Long
- #18Korey Ruble
- #43Justin South
- #42Steven Davis
- #22Josh Bragg
- #4Elliott Massey
- #55Ronnie Osmer
- #41Troy Grisaffi
- #30Rusty Sanford
- #17Chuck Tuck
- #33Dustin Smith (DNS)