Senoia, Georgia’s Bubba Pollard entered Friday’s JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour 100-lap event at Berlin Raceway with 74 career wins of 100-lap distances or more. All 74 of them came south of the Mason-Dixon line. Over recent seasons he had tried to end that goose egg in the northern-event win column by racing in Pro and Super Late Model events from Berlin to Anderson Speedway in Indiana and the Milwaukee Mile in Wisconsin.
It wasn’t until the checkered flag flew Friday night that Pollard was finally able to notch that first northern victory.
The 27-year-old champion of several Super and Pro Late Model series in the Southeast, took the lead from Berlin regular Chris Anthony on lap 86 and held on through final restarts for his 75th career win in a race of 100 laps or greater.
“It feels good to finally get this win,” said Pollard, who earned his 10th overall victory of 2014 with the Berlin victory. “The restarts are so tough here. You’ve got to get a really good run off of (turn) four. This place is so tricky. We had a real good racecar that turned well all night. We were able to keep forward drive and we were able to save enough to have something for the end.”
Pollard ran behind former Berlin track champion Terry Van Haitsma for much of the first half of the race. While he and fellow Georgia driver Anderson Bowen waited inside the top five, Van Haitsma checked out early, but faded late. Anthony then took over when Van Haitsma started to fall off in the second 50 circuits of the 100-lap affair, but didn’t have enough to hold off Pollard down the stretch.
Learning from longtime Berlin drivers such as Van Haitsma and Anthony, as well as what his No. 26 car had throughout the race, helped Pollard get the necessary notes to score a second northern win on Saturday when he competes in the Battle at Berlin 251 ARCA/CRA Super Series event at Berlin.
“This place is so local-friendly, as I call it,” added Pollard. “You’ve got to have a lot of laps here. I thought the best thing to do was run tonight and gain from it. I learned a lot on the restarts and what to do when we’re on the outside. It was well worth (running the JEGS Tour race).”
Pollard’s JEGS Tour car was so good Friday night that he was pondering using the same car in the 251 on Saturday instead of the Super Late Model he dialed in at Berlin Friday afternoon.
“I think (the car) is definitely good. We made some changes that got our Super (Late Model) good in the last 15 minutes of practice. We’ll watch some race paces and what we need to do. It’s a good possibility that we may run this thing tomorrow.”
Bowen followed his fellow Georgian Pollard across the line Friday night at Berlin. Berlin regulars Anthony, Andrew Nylaan and Van Haitsma rounded out the top five.
Saturday at Berlin, the ARCA/CRA Super Series Battle at Berlin 251 takes center stage. Fans unable to attend the event in person can watch the 251-lap battle, along with the Berlin Sportsman division, on a 51 TV live video broadcast for just $14.99. Click here to order Saturday’s 51 TV broadcast.
– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director. Twitter: @MattKentfield