Crafty veterans, young phenomes, hard racing, and a stellar field; the 2018 rendition of the Baby Rattler 125 had everything racing fans crave. In the end, it was Bubba Pollard back in victory lane for the fourth time in his career.
The action picked up on lap 50 of the 125-lap race, when Pollard took the lead from polesitter Mason Diaz. Despite a fierce effort by Diaz, Pollard managed to hold him off the remaining 75 laps.
“The 24 car (Diaz) was strong,” Pollard told Speed51.com in victory lane. “We could get better restarts than they could. We could fire off a little faster and get a little distance and then we could kind of sit out there and save a little bit. I think that’s what helped us the most was that we could get out there and ride a little bit before he could catch us.”
“I knew in order for me to pass him I had to catch him with lapped cars because he had a big lead on me,” Diaz said. “I finally caught him and I don’t know if he was playing with me or not. But when I caught him we kind of stayed even pace and I probably should have been a little bit more aggressive with a little bit more to go and maybe got in front of him but then it probably would have been a pass me back kind of deal.”
Pollard keen to notice Diaz’s strategy, didn’t waiver in his own.
“You don’t know what them guys are going to do, so you have to be careful,” Pollard stated. “I’ve lost a lot of races because of lapped cars. We had a big enough lead there to take it easy. We’re fine and we’ll be fine tomorrow.”
As all the action went on between the leaders, local ace Korey Ruble climbed from 10th to third for an impressive podium finish.
“The car was just too tight the whole race really,” Ruble said. “We drug in qualifying and we drug the whole race and ended up using up the right front there trying to run down Bubba and the 24 car (Diaz). I didn’t have anything for Bubba tonight but we had a really good car. This is the best car I’ve had in about two years so it makes me really excited to move forward.”
Rolling into tomorrow’s coverage of the Rattler 250 one question remains: If Pollard manages to sweep the weekend, will he kiss the snake?
“I ain’t kissing it. I’ll hold it. I’ll touch it. But I ain’t kissing it.”
For an on-demand replay of Saturday’s Trackside Now coverage presented by Cole Anderson Racing and Port City Racecars, click here.
Race fans will be able to watch Pollard go for the Rattler sweep Sunday afternoon by watching the live Speed51.com pay-per-view broadcast beginning at 12:15 p.m.
-By Allick Jorgensen, Speed51.com Deep South Correspondent – Twitter: @AJorgensen24
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Baby Rattler 125 Unoffical Results
1 26 Bubba Pollard
2 24MD Mason Diaz
3 66 Korey Ruble
4 18 Casey Roderick
5 14CO Connor Okrzesik
6 71 Dawson Fletcher
7 10 Steve Dorer
8 9JC Jeff Choquette
9 5 Kyle Plott
10 97 Cole Anderson
11 22 Brandon Herbert
12 8x Aiden Eldridge
13 9KJ Kody Jett
14 00 Brandon Curren
15 14TP Tyler Porter
16 12 Joe Graf Jr.
17 51SN Stephen Nasse
18 21 Ryan Herbert
19 11 JoLynn Wilkinson
20 51PP Perry Patino
21 43 Justin South
22 24CT Christopher Tullis
23 14CD Chris Davidson