The name of Saturday’s race at Greenville Pickens Speedway (SC) was the Meltdown and while the temperature outside wasn’t melting anything down, the tempers on the track certainly got hot. Brandon Setzer pulled his car into victory lane, but the story wasn’t about his red No. 6 machine on this day. Instead, the story was about Bubba Pollard, Matt Craig, and a whole lot of torn up equipment.
With 22 laps to go, Bubba Pollard had the lead ahead of Craig on the restart. Craig went deep into turn one and made hard contact with the back of Pollard’s No. 26. Pollard backed hard into the turn one wall, destroying the read end of his car. Donnie Wilson went high to try to avoid the crash but instead piled into the front of Pollard’s car, destroying that end as well.
Pollard’s 2018 Super Late Model season is just three races old, but it has already been eventful. Pollard led early in the Red Eye 100 at New Smyrna Speedway before breaking. He led much of CRA SpeedFest before spinning out late in the race after contact with Chandler Smith. He rallied to second, but was visibly angry after the race. Today, his car was destroyed, leaving the 30-year-old veteran fuming.
“That was the hardest hit I’ve ever had,” Pollard said after taking a few minutes to calm down. “We have a destroyed race car and that’s very unfortunate.”
Matt Craig was unable to be reached for comment. He was escorted into a white pickup truck in the infield and led out of the race track to avoid any confrontation.
All of that craziness put Jeff Fultz in the lead with Chandler Smith and Brandon Setzer behind him for the restart on lap 129. Fultz took the inside and Setzer chose the outside. Setzer was able to get enough grip to power by Fultz on the exit of turn four to take the lead.
Smith, who won CRA SpeedFest last week, was able to work his way by Fultz and close within half a second of Setzer, but he was unable to get close enough to challenge for the win.
When the dust settled, Setzer was as surprised as anybody to be standing in victory lane.
“We kept dodging crashes and then pretty soon we ended up sixth or seventh,” Setzer said in victory lane. “I chose the outside and it just rolled. This sucker was hooked up on the outside. Then they kept crashing. We kept dodging more crashes and then got on the outside for that last restart. I sailed it off into one and it worked out well.”
Smith led some laps for the second week in a row but was unable to take his second straight victory.
“I feel like this is a good way to start the season with a first and a second, but obviously I’d rather have been first today,” Smith told Speed51.com. “We definitely had the car to beat, but we ran out of laps at the end. We may need to beat out a few dents here and there, but it’s a lot better than most of those cars that wrecked out.”
For Setzer, an underfunded racer, starting his season off by winning a check for $10,000 is as big as it gets.
“It’s a good way to start the season off, for sure,” he said. “We’ll take that to the Caraway PASS race, which is our next one. We’ll take that momentum into Caraway.”
Speed51.com’s video stream of Saturday’s Meltdown race from Greenville Pickens Speedway is available on demand for premium members of Speed51.com here.
An on-demand replay of Saturday’s Trackside Now coverage presented by Racecar Engineering can be viewed here.
Speed51.com will have more from Saturday’s race, including a one-on-one interview with winner Brandon Setzer and full highlights still to come on the Speed51.com Video Network.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com