For the second straight weekend, Bubba Pollard bided his time and made his move late to park his No. 26 Pro Late Model in victory lane. This time, Cole Williams was the unfortunate driver as Pollard passed the former Lebanon I-44 Speedway track champion with seven laps to go to win the near caution-free JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour opener at the Show Me State Showdown.
After a yellow on lap two, the field saw a 99-lap run to the finish that saw just eight cars finish on the lead lap. Pollard rode in third for much of the race while Williams and polesitter Cody Coughlin set sail at the front. He made his move in the final quarter of the race, getting past Coughlin for second and dispatching Williams soon after.
“I was watching them there, they took off at a pace that was qualifying every lap, it was unbelievable. I didn’t want to run that pace,” Pollard told Speed51. “I sat back and rode and saved my stuff, that was pretty much it.”
The late battle between Pollard and Williams was a fierce one, with Williams doing everything he could to keep Pollard at bay. Ultimately, it took a dirt track-style slide job in three and four to clear Williams and pull away in the final seven laps.
“He was getting loose off and when he was having problems with that lapped traffic I knew we had a shot,” Pollard stated. “I could roll to the inside and he’d chop me down, I could roll to the outside and he pushed me off the back. It was one of those racing things, he’s protecting the lead and doing what he was supposed to do and I had to figure out a way to get by him. I pulled off some sliders like in the dirt car and made it happen.”
Coming off a subpar qualifying run in the Super Late Model earlier in the night, Pollard hit the track for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour event with a sharper focus. He joked in victory lane about his state when taking the green in the Pro Late Model.
“I got into the race car mad before the race because of my Super Late Model qualifying. I guess that got me a little intense. I guess I took out my anger on the race track tonight.”
Cole Williams took the lead from Coughlin just before halfway after the two set a blistering pace early in the event and pulled away. He seemed to be on his way to the win before Pollard came to life late.
Even after finishing second, Williams was still happy to start his 2020 season with a runner-up effort.
“It was one of those things where I was hanging on for dear life at the end there. We felt like the car was going to get tight on us because we didn’t have a true long run with this car and this is the first time we’ve been here,” Williams said. “It was really good at the beginning, I knew he was coming so I had to pick up the pace. I tried to save as much as I could just in case something like that was going to happen there but he just had a better car there at the end of the race.”
Stephen Nasse, Cody Coughlin and Travis Braden rounded out the top five.
Click here to watch the Lucas Oil Show Me State Showdown from Lebanon I-44 Speedway on Speed51.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo