Bubba Pollard continued his dominant 2018 season at Five Flags Speedway (FL) Saturday night, holding off a hard-charging Chandler Smith to score the victory in the Deep South Cranes 150 presented by Earnest Performance.
Pollard took the lead from Smith with 41 laps remaining in the 150-lap event, which served as the penultimate race of the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco season as well as the Blizzard Series finale for 2018. A late caution opened the door for Smith to make a late-race charge, but Pollard held off the young fellow Georgia native for his 18th career Blizzard Series victory.
Pollard had complete confidence in his car’s long-run ability, which is where Pollard’s signature No. 26 machine was at it’s best. An extended green flag run gave him the perfect opportunity to storm to the front during the middle stage of the event.
“We started the race off pretty free, like we’ve been all weekend,” Pollard said in victory lane. “We didn’t know if we were going to make it. We had a really good car on the long run. I feel like if we went green there, we’d be good.”
An incident involving Bobby Knox brought out the yellow flag with 30 laps to go, bringing everyone but Kyle Plott to pit road under a controlled caution. Plott, the winner of the Southern Super Series’ most recent race at Watermelon Capital Speedway (GA), was unable to hold off Pollard on fresher tires. However, Smith quickly chased down Pollard to challenge for the win before running out of time.
“Those guys were better than us on the short run,” Pollard admitted. “It showed at the end when Chandler was better than us, but then we leveled out. It’s all about that tire game. I’m glad it worked out, that’s all I can say.”
For Smith, the runner-up finish marked a strong showing for a brand new car in preparation for the 51st Annual Snowball Derby, scheduled for December 2 at Five Flags Speedway.
“Ricky [Turner] and Will [Coats] and all the guys have been putting this piece together all year,” Smith said. “It’s a brand spanking new car we’re going to run for the Derby. I think we may run it a few more races before the Derby. This thing is really good.
“We started catching him towards the end, but we ran out of laps there,” Smith said about the finish. “Hats off to Bubba, congratulations to him.”
Harrison Burton made his first Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco appearance since winning the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway in March, and he came away with a third-place finish in his own preparation for the Snowball Derby. The rising star had high praise for the level of competition in Saturday’s field.
“It’s the toughest competition in the nation in Super Late Model racing, in my opinion,” Burton said. “It’s so, so hard to win these races. You’ve got guys like Bubba Pollard who run these races every weekend and we’re coming with a lot less laps than them. We’re still contending with them, which is good.
“We came here kind of as a Derby tune-up,” Burton added. “I think it went well, and we learned a lot, that’s for sure. We’ll come back and get them next time.”
With a seventh-place finish, Casey Roderick secured his third Blizzard Series championship. While it was not the run Roderick had hoped for entering the evening, it was enough to take a 32-point triumph over Chris Davidson in the four-race Super Late Model championship contested at the Pensacola, Florida facility.
“We struggled tonight,” Roderick said. “The car was off and we were able to fight back. We pitted a couple of times trying to get it better. I felt like we did that, we just didn’t have enough.
“We’ll come back stronger for the Snowball,” Roderick continued. “I’m glad we were able to pull off another Blizzard Series championship. That’s three now. I couldn’t be happier for Ronnie getting him another Blizzard Series championship. We’ll see what we can do at the Snowball.”
Race fans who missed Saturday’s action can visit Speed51.com’s Trackside Now archive of the event for lap-by-lap updates or watch an on-demand presentation of Speed51.com’s pay-per-view broadcast. A tape-delayed broadcast of the race will also be aired as part of Speed51’s Short Track America on MAVTV on Wednesday, October 31.
Blizzard Series / Southern Super Series Unofficial Results
|22||30k||Bobby Knox Jr.|
|32||11b||Logan Boyett (DNS)|