Shaking off bad luck from the past few months, Georgia’s Bubba Pollard bided his time Sunday afternoon at New Smyrna Speedway, capturing the lead late and winning his first career Florida Governor’s Cup 200. The win was an emotionally heavy triumph in honor of New Smyrna legend David Rogers.
After taking the lead just before halfway from Brad May, Jesse Dutilly seemed to be the driver to beat in the second half of the 55th edition of Florida Governor’s Cup. But when Stephen Nasse slowed due to a broken alternator belt and brought out a yellow with 60 laps to go, Pollard took his No. 26 Super Late Model to pit road for adjustments.
Back under the green flag Pollard went to work, finding an opportunity with 40 laps to go and powering past Dutilly for the victory.
“It feels good. I may be emotional, but its been tough the last couple of months,” Pollard said in victory lane. “But we never give up. That’s part of racing. I got a good group of guys, good group of people. Can’t say enough. We’ve been struggling, I’ve had a tough couple of weeks, and it’s part of racing, dig through it.”
Adding to the emotion was Pollard also winning his first race at New Smyrna since the passing of friend and legendary driver David Rogers back in March. Pollard carries the colors and logo of Roger’s longtime sponsor TM Ranch on the hood of the No. 26, with many of Roger’s crew augmenting the Pollard camp over the weekend.
“It feels good, all of those guys are here. They mean a lot to us and David. All of his guys helped me out, couldn’t do it without them. I got guys back at home that weren’t able to make it, and this is for them. They know who it is. We needed the win today.”
Daniel Dye was the top Florida driver Saturday, finishing second after a pitched battle with George Gorham who came home third. The 16-year-old, who made his Super Late Model debut at the beginning of the year, felt that time was the only thing that fell short in his first Governor’s Cup performance.
“We got to second there and just ran out of time on Bubba,” Dye told Speed51. “We were about half a tenth to a tenth every quicker than him every lap until I missed a corner or something. We were pretty good, just ran out of time. To run this good to a guy like Bubba is pretty awesome. We’re looking forward to bringing this new car to the Derby.”
While both the veteran and rookie leave New Smyrna Speedway with fresh momentum heading into the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby, some drivers, like Stephen Nasse are leaving exactly as they came: with a lot of work to do before the crown jewel event in December.
“We need to go back to the drawing board and really figure something out because I do believe that cost us the race today,” Nasse said about the broken alternator belt on his 51 machine. “We did everything we could do all weekend. For it to end like that, definitely stinks. I just hate it for my guys. They work so hard. We’ve given away a couple of races this year, they were big ones. Like I said, we’ll go back to the drawing board and get ready for the Derby.”
Rounding out the top-five was Jesse Dutilly who finished fourth, while polesitter and early race leader Brad May finished fifth. Three-time Governor’s Cup winner Ty Majeski dropped out on Lap 56 after contact with Daniel Keene Jr. sent him spinning into the inside wall, ending his day with a 14th-place finish.
Next up on the big race calendar for the Super Late Models is the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, December 2-6. Race fans will be able to watch it live on Speed51.TV.
Hear more from the winner of the 55th Florida Governor’s Cup, Bubba Pollard, Monday morning on ‘The Bullring’ starting at 7 a.m. ET on Speed51.TV.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51
Florida Governor’s Cup 200 Unofficial Results:
- Bubba Pollard (26)
- Daniel Dye (43)
- George Gorham (03)
- Jesse Dutilly (30)
- Brad May (9)
- Jett Noland (81)
- Travis Wilson (4)
- Kyle Sieg (39)
- Stephen Nasse (51)
- Daniel Keene Jr. (5K)
- Bobby Good (27)
- Michael Atwell (51)
- Anthony Sergi (20)
- Ty Majeski (91)
- Kris Wright (21) (DNS)