Mechanical failures and on track incidents dwindled the 38 car field to 11-cars by the end of 250 laps, but Senoia, Georgia’s Bubba Pollard left all the events behind him to take the second annual Winter Showdown victory at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, CA.
It was the Senoia, Georgia driver’s second straight win in the event. The victory netted him a $30,000 top prize and an additional $10,000 Coors Light / Speed51.com bonus for a total of $40,000.
“The first time was cool; the second time awesome,” Pollard told Speed51.com powered by JEGS following victory lane festivities. “This is unbelievable. A small team like us can do a lot with this money. It’s big for us.”
It was an impressive effort that differed from the previous year’s performance. Pollard and crew were unsure whether they could be in contention initially on race day after a consistent, but not noticeably quick couple days of practice.
“I woke up this morning and didn’t have any confidence at all,” Pollard admitted. “I knew we had to go to work. Making that rear-end change before the race is what won us the race. We changed that rear-end and this thing came to life. When we went off on the green flag on lap one I knew we had something.”
Despite early leaders, fast qualifier Derek Thorn and local favorite David Mayhew, running into mechanical issues while leading, Pollard was not home free in the closing laps. Olympia, Washington and now hometown resident Parker Stephens powered his NTS Motorsports prepared machine to the back bumper of Pollard in an effort to take the win away.
“He (Parker Stephens) probably had a better car at the end,” Pollard said. “I knew if we hit our marks and run the line we needed to it was going to be tough for him to pass us. Our cars were pretty equal there, but you have a lot of respect for a guy like that to come out and race you clean in a big event like this is pretty cool.”
It was a remarkable turnaround for Stephens, whose car was in pieces earlier in the week after a hard visit with the wall during testing at the ½-mile facility.
“This last week, having to thrash on this thing, makes it even more special to me,” Stephens commented. “Could have been more special obviously if we came home with the trophy and thirty grand, but they gave me a hotrod and I drove the wheels off of it.”
The runner-up result gives Stephens a major confidence boost going into the remainder of the season.
“Honestly it’s fun racing up there with Bubba and all these guys that have been doing it for years because you actually trust them,” Stephens explained. “You know you can race millimeters and inches from each other without having to wreck each other or anything like that.”
Jeremy Doss climbed from outside the top 20 to round out the podium.
The Spears Southwest Tour Series begins their regular season at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in April 9th.
Review all of Sunday’s information with Speed51.com’s Speed Central coverage at http://speed51.com/speed-central-winter-showdown-race-day-at-kern-county/.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Central NY & PA Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
2nd Annual Winter Showdown 250 Results