Bubba Pollard had a plan for Saturday’s SERF 100 at Five Flags Speedway and never waivered.
Pollard never topped the charts in practice, and timed in third in qualifying. However, when the hot, humid and thrilling night came to a close, he found himself in a familiar place: victory lane on the Gulf Coast.
“It’s so tough when it’s 100 degrees like tonight,” said Pollard. “It all comes down to who can hang on and get the job done. We didn’t make the right adjustment at the break, so we will make a mental note and not do that again. Luckily, we were able to be just fast enough.”
Pollard inherited the lead when pole sitter, and then-leader and fellow Georgian, Kyle Plott fell off the pace coming off turn two.
Plott’s issue was mechanical related, and something that has plagued him before.
“It’s so frustrating when the car is that good,” Plott said. “It just went dead off turn two, and had no power. We had this same issue at Montgomery, and I replaced every wire and switch I could think of to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I guess I didn’t pick the right one.”
Plott’s misfortune allowed fellow Georgians Pollard and Casey Roderick, who calls Lawrenceville home, to wage an intense, nose-to-tail battle over the race’s final 30 laps.
Lap after lap, Roderick would stalk Pollard waiting for him to slip. Every now and then Roderick would sneak a peek to the inside, but never had the momentum to make the pass for the lead.
As the two raced for the lead, they were forced to duck high and low – sometimes three wide – around lapped cars.
The battle had the fans up on their feet, and left the drivers worn out after the checkers flew.
In the earlier Southern Super Series race at Five Flags this season, Roderick was the driver celebrating in victory lane. Pollard’s night ended early with mechanical issues. In victory lane that night, Roderick stated that he wanted to race Pollard heads up for the win to see where he stood against his top competition.
Friday night Roderick saw first hand that he still had a little work to do.
“I felt like we have closed the gap, but obviously not enough yet,” said Roderick. “He looked like he was getting a little loose there late, but still had a lot of drive up off. That’s where we got to get better. We have to roll the center and be able to put it down off the corner like he can.”
Alabama’s Connor Okrzesik followed the two Georgia drivers home for his second-straight podium finish in the Southern Super Series. Jesse Dutilly and Donnie Wilson rounded out the top five.
The win is Pollard’s 10th series win at Five Flags, and 19th overall.
Each and every time Pollard unloads his black No. 26 machine in Pensacola he is penciled in as the man to beat. He feels his years of experience help him maintain his dominance, and he has his sights planted firmly on capturing on his first Snowball Derby in December.
“I’ve been coming down here for so long, and it’s a place I really like racing at,” said Pollard. “It fits my driving style I guess. I followed and raced against some of the best ever down here over the years. We have come to have a pretty good idea of what to expect out of the racetrack. We tried some new stuff tonight to try to make it better for the Derby.”
The Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco returns to the track at Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, Georgia on August 25.
For an on-demand replay of Friday’s Trackside Now coverage presented by WCIParts.com, click here.
Speed51.com will have more from Five Flags Speedway, including video highlights and interviews, still to come on the Speed51 Video Network.
-By Ryan McCollough, Speed51.com Deep South Correspondent – Twitter: @RyanLMcCollough
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
Southern Super Series SERF 125
Five Flags Speedway, Pensacola, Florida
Pos # Driver
1 26 Bubba Pollard
2 18 Casey Roderick
3 14O Connor Okrzesik
4 30 Jesse Dutilly
5 2W Donnie Wilson
6 11 Logan Boyett
7 14D Chris Davidson
8 78 Corey Heim
9 51 Michael Atwell
10 88 Garrett Jones
11 4 Kyle Plott
12 24 Mason Diaz
13 33 Carter Stokes
14 79A Joe Aramendia
15 17 Nick Neri
16 22 Brandon Herbert
17 9 Hudson Holder
18 47 Allen Karnes
19 11R David Rogers
20 2 Chet Morrison
21 79 Kyle Bryant