Bubba Pollard knows how to win races behind the wheel of a race car. He’s won his fair share of pavement Late Model events in recent year, but this past weekend he proved he can get it done on dirt as well.
Pollard of Senoia, Georgia made the short trip to his home track of Senoia Raceway and scored a victory in the track’s Crate Late Model division Saturday night. The win was more than just another victory, though. Coming at the race track built by his grandfather Hence Pollard, with his family and friends in attendance, the win was special.
“It was pretty neat to win at the dirt track. It’s a place my granddad built back early on,” Pollard told Speed51.com. “To be able to win there and just have fun racing dirt close to home with your friends and family that don’t normally get to see you race, it’s pretty cool to do it close to home there.”
Pollard’s last victory at Senoia Raceway came back in 2016, a year in which he won multiple races at the track. Since then, he’s traveled throughout the country and become a national star in the pavement Late Model world.
Despite his status as one of the most popular and well-known short track racers, being able to race and win close to home is something he doesn’t take for granted, especially given his family’s history at the 3/8-mile clay oval.
“I didn’t really know my granddad at all because he died at such a young age. I hear stories from my dad. He always loved racing and always loved the sport,” Pollard explained. “He was able to own the race track there. He was never able to race it. They did some drag racing years ago, and it’s a place my granddad built, and my dad has raced at, worked at and probably has more laps around the place than anybody.
“It was special for us to be able to race there, especially on dirt and with him never getting the opportunity to see me race. I think he would be proud. It’s special to me and my family, my dad and everyone to be able to race there and be able to win.”
One week prior to his victory, Pollard took his dirt Pro Late Model to Toccoa Raceway to compete with the FASTRAK Racing Series. He finished ninth in that race but ultimately believes the experience helped lead him to victory lane this past weekend.
“Running the dirt, things are so much different than the pavement that I’m accustomed to and used to,” Pollard admitted. “Seat time is really crucial. We’ve had a lot of experience in the pavement car, but it’s nothing like having seat time in the dirt car. Just gaining experience, going to new places, racing the dirt car as much as we can throughout the year is the biggest goal.”
While Pollard will continue to tackle many of the nation’s biggest asphalt Late Model races, his goal this year is to compete in the biggest dirt Pro Late Model race in the nation: the $50,000-to-win FASTRAK World Championship at Virginia Motor Speedway.
“We want to race as much as we can throughout the year to possibly, if we have a good summer here, to run with the FASTRAK series out in Virginia for the $50,000-to-win race. That’s the goal we have. We’d like to run some of the bigger crate races throughout the year. We’re looking forward to racing the dirt car as much as we can at different tracks and learning as much as we can to carry on and get some more wins.”
Before he does more dirt racing, Pollard will be getting back to what he knows best this weekend when he travels to Hickory Motor Speedway for the Easter Bunny 150. It’s a race that he’s attempted before and hopes to finally add to his resume Saturday afternoon.
“The Easter Bunny is a race that I’ve always wanted to win,” he said. “We’ve struggled there in years past; we hadn’t had much success at all. We finally broke through and were able to win the CARS race a month ago. That was big for me as confidence. I feel like we have a good package, a good baseline to go there with. Just a few things are different with tires and things like that but I feel like we can adapt quick.”
In order to reach victory lane at “The Birthplace of NASCAR Stars” once again, Pollard will have to defeat a stout field of PASS Super Late Model racers from the north and south.
“There’s going to be some competition with all of those guys coming down like Ben Rowe, the Alexander kid, Wyatt Alexander that we raced against a couple weeks ago. Preston’s (Peltier) going to be there. It’s going to be a good race and we’re excited about it.”
After taking nearly a full month off from asphalt racing in order to race the dirt car, Pollard doesn’t see the transition back to the asphalt car being a difficult one.
“It’s like riding a bike. It’s two totally different types of racing, but I can take a little bit of one and put it towards the other and vice versa. It’s kind of – I’m not a cocky person or anything like that – but when you got it, you got it and you can adapt quick. Good racecar drivers like Tony Stewart and those guys who have been able to jump from pavement to dirt and been able to adapt. The feeling of the race car is the same, even though one is turning left and one is turning right. You still have that feel in the race car you’re looking for and it’s the same on dirt and asphalt. You just have to go about it a different way. You just need to get in there, ride the bike and get it done.”
Pollard will be looking to “ride the bike” to victory lane when the green flag waves for the Easter Bunny 150 Saturday afternoon at Hickory Motor Speedway. Those unable to make it out to the race track will be able to watch a live pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com. Live video tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com