When JR Motorsports arrives at Martinsville Speedway (VA) for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 on October 4-5, they will show up with one of the best Late Model Stock racers in the region alongside arguably the best Super Late Model driver in the country.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. tweeted a 30-second video on Monday revealing that Super Late Model national star Bubba Pollard will compete in a second car for the Late Model Stock team alongside Josh Berry, the 2017 CARS Late Model Stock Tour champion seeking his first Martinsville triumph.
Pollard made his debut in the crown jewel Late Model Stock event last year, with a chance to win the race before a controversial late-race incident dashed his shot at victory. This year, Pollard returns with one of the top teams in Late Model Stock racing.
“I’m really excited," Pollard told Speed51 about the opportunity. "The pressure is on me. Pretty much now, we have to go out and perform. I get to drive for one of the best teams in Late Model Stocks. It’s a great opportunity and I’m very fortunate to be able to race for him.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) September 23, 2019
While Berry has not won the Martinsville 300, he is a former Myrtle Beach 400 winner and is the winningest driver in CARS Tour history with 17 wins in the sanctioning body's Late Model Stock class. Pollard, a six-time winner in CARS Super Late Model Tour competition alongside his innumerable other accomplishments, has crossed paths several times with Berry but will now have the chance to share a stable with him.
"Josh (Berry) has been very successful in that other series and we’ve raced together some," said Pollard. "We’re really excited to be a part of JR Motorsports and Josh and all the guys over there. They have a great organization and a great team, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
While an agreement between JR Motorsports and Pollard has been in the works for some time, the Speed51 Super Select at Lucas Oil Raceway (IN) offered Pollard and Earnhardt, Jr. the opportunity to meet face-to-face for the first time, as Earnhardt visited the short track near Indianapolis Motor Speedway during Brickyard 400 weekend.
“It was a deal that has been kind of coming together for a little while," Pollard explained. "It actually started before Indy, and it was pretty cool for him to check out the race and watch the race and support short track racing. I had talked to him on the phone a couple times but that was the first time I got to meet him in person. It was cool to be able to do that and get to drive for an awesome team.”
Pollard hopes the knowledge gained from navigating Martinsville's unique concrete corners, as well as competing against an entirely new group of racers, will bode well in his return visit.
“I think it’s definitely going to help having the experience of racing around those guys and racing against guys I’ve never raced with before like Layne Riggs and Josh Berry.
The ValleyStar Credit Union 300 will take place at Martinsville Speedway on October 4-5. For more information, visit www.martinsvillespeedway.com.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: JR Motorsports / Matthew Dillner