Night of Champions Turns into Night of Sweeps: Pollard Collects Pair of Wins, Roderick Pair of Titles

Night of Champions Turns into Night of Sweeps: Pollard Collects Pair of Wins, Roderick Pair of Titles

Night of Champions Turns into Night of Sweeps: Pollard Collects Pair of Wins, Roderick Pair of Titles

 

By Chuck Corder

“Redneck Jesus” continues to reign supreme at Five Flags Speedway.

Bubba Pollard goes by many monikers and nicknames. One superlative stands above the rest: winner.

It’s certainly not hyperbole to dub the 31-year-old driver short-track racing’s current king for how many times his bearded-face is smiling in numerous Victory Lanes across North America.

As he has done so often at Five Flags Speedway, it was once again Pensacola’s turn to be swept up in Pollard’s power and precision during the famed half-mile asphalt oval’s Night of Champions on Saturday.

The Senoia, Ga., hotshoe made a defining statement and added to his legacy by becoming the first driver in Five Flags history to win Super and Pro Late Model feature races on the same night.

Pollard practiced patience in capturing the Deep South Cranes 150, the Deep South Cranes Blizzard Series season finale for Super Late Models, before punctuating the evening with a phenomenal performance in the Allen Turner Tune-Up 100 for PLMs that saw him win by nearly three seconds.

“I’m able to drive good racecars because I’ve got good people behind me that work hard and make my job a lot easier,” a humbled Pollard said. “Everybody that works on this racecar has a lot to do with our success. It’s a hot weekend down here, but well worth it.”

The temperature for the first day of fall Saturday may be the only thing hotter than Pollard currently. He has now five consecutive late model races, including collecting $50,000 for winning the Canadian Short Track Nationals last month.

Pollard extended his record of all-time Blizzard Series victories to 18 wins Saturday with a steady approach that didn’t see him assume the lead until Lap 109 in the Deep South Cranes 150.

Kyle Plott momentarily took P1 from Pollard on Lap 120 during a controlled caution where the entire field pitted except for Plott. On the restart, though, Plott was no match against Pollard’s fresh rubber and he put the No. 26 machine back out front for good before the pair exited Turn No. 2.

“What a race,” said Pollard, who won three of the four Blizzard Series races this season. “We started the race free, and I didn’t know if we were gonna make it. It seemed to be a really good car on the long runs. Others were definitely better than us on the short runs. That showed there with Chandler (Smith).”

The teenager Smith finished second to Pollard with Harrison Burton rounding out the Blizzard Series podium.

Jeff Choquette and California driver Derek Thorn finished runner-up and third, respectively, to Pollard in the Allen Turner Tune-Up 100.

On any other night, Saturday would have been a crowning celebration of another driver who hails from Pollard’s native Georgia.

Casey Roderick posted top-seven finishes in each of Saturday night’s race, admittedly subpar by his lofty standards. However, the 26 year old did accomplish an historic feat that even the great and powerful Pollard has never pulled off.

Roderick became the first driver at Five Flags to win track championships for both the Deep South Cranes Blizzard Series and the Allen Turner Pro Late Models. It marks back-to-back PLM titles for Roderick and his third career Blizzard Series crown, tying him with — guess who? — Pollard for the most all time.

“We got us two championships, and that’s a pretty cool feeling,” a dismayed Roderick said. “I couldn’t be happier for (car owner) Ronnie (Sanders) that we were able to pull off two championships in one season.

“I’m just disappointed in our effort tonight. We struggled. The car was off. But we were able to fight back. We weren’t where we need to be to contend for the win. Bubba has been incredible all year. We’ve got a lotta work to do to get our cars in winning condition.”

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