Pensacola Drivers Eye Crowns on Counselman Automotive Recycling Night of Champions on Saturdayadmin
Pensacola Drivers Eye Crowns on Counselman Automotive Recycling Night of Champions on Saturday
By Chuck Corder
Bubba Winslow readily admits this strange season at Five Flags Speedway has spun him around.
And he’s not even referring to 2020’s biggest piece of debris: COVID-19.
No, Winslow’s unsettling feelings come from enduring a winless drought in six features this year yet the 30-year-oild Cantonment driver finds himself atop the Faith Chapel Outlaws points standings heading into the Counselman Automotive Recycling, LLC Night of Champions on Saturday at Five Flags.
“Anytime you can call yourself a champion at Five Flags is something to be proud of,” said Winslow, who owns two track championships in the former Super Stocks series. “But it’s a little different. You say you don’t points race, but you’re always thinking about championships at the end of the day. I don’t know how I feel about winning a championship if I don’t get a win.”
Maybe adding a third purple Hoosiers jacket, awarded to all Five Flags track champions each year, will provide comfort. Winslow will bring a 23-point lead into Saturday night’s 50-lap feature for the Faith Chapel Outlaws, one of four local divisions that will crown track champions Saturday at the famed half-mile asphalt oval.
Pensacola’s Jim Pokrant looks to erase a four-point deficit to Mobile’s Chad Robinson when The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen battle for 30 laps. Grant Thompson carries a 37-point lead into the WCIparts.com Pro Trucks 30-lap finale and Daryl McDonald III looks to hold off Jerry Goff Jr. when the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks compete in their 25-lap feature.
Gates open at 4 p.m. Saturday and admission is $15 for adults; $12 for seniors, military, and students; and free for children ages 11-and-under.
Despite his mixed feelings of not yet hoisting a checkered flag this year, Winslow is pouring all his focus and energy into securing a win this weekend at the famed half-mile asphalt oval.
Not only will his traditional support system – including wife Ashley and daughters Taylor and Tinley and son Troy – be in attendance, but his grandmother Peggy Winslow will be make a rare appearance for one of Bubba’s races.
The Winslow family lost their patriarch earlier this summer, and Bubba Winslow would love nothing more than to win a title in James Winslow’s memory.
“I was talking with my grandmother the other day, and we were talking about how much my grandfather loved racing out there,” said Bubba Winslow, who won an Outlaws Snowball Derby title in 2017. “When we lost him, I never considered quitting racing. If we can get this one Saturday, it’ll be for him and my grandma.”
The veteran Pokrant, 49, will be looking for his first career track championship Saturday night. After leading the Sportsmen points standings for much of the season, Pokrant lost his advantage last month when Robinson surpassed him and took over the points lead.
Pokrant has been coming to Five Flags since he was 9. He was a fan immediately and became addicted to short-track racing.
Capturing a track title would be the cherry on top of his rich history at the famed half-mile asphalt oval.
“Five Flags has always been a home for me,” Pokrant said. “I love racing out there and I’m thankful for the camaraderie I’ve built with guys like Shanna Ard and Billy Hoover. I’ve made lifelong friends out there. To have an opportunity to win a championship at this track means so much to me.”
It would be even more significant because Pokrant announced that next year will be his last full season of driving at Five Flags. He wants to turn his racing efforts toward his grandson, who turns 13 soon. Pokrant already is him building a dirt car to race next year.
“He wants to start racing,” Pokrant said of his grandson. “When he’s old enough, I might put him in my Sportsmen. And I won’t totally quit because I still love it. It’s a drug I’m addicted to.”
Pokrant was in this same spot a few years ago. That year, he trailed Sportsmen king Steve Buttrick by a slim margin heading into the night of champions.
The door opened when Buttrick wrecked on the first lap. Pokrant had to win the race in order to secure the championship. After Pokrant made multiple trips to the pits to repair a flat and another mechanical issue, he finished fourth, came up short, and lost the title to Buttrick by six measly points.
“I could see the championship, but I couldn’t get there,” Pokrant said.
He’s hoping to get his hands on that purple jacket and that elusive championship this time around.
“I’ve had a couple of missed opportunities,” Pokrant said. “But, hopefully, I can get out front again and won’t have to worry about poor restarts and bad handling. I wanna beat Chad fair and square. Everybody has accused me of cheating up the whole car. But that’s an eight-year-old chassis that was built on jack stands and a five-year-old motor. The car is legal, I know it is. I’m ready to turn it down any time.
“I’m appreciative of this chance,” he continued. “I told my crew that if I win one of those purple jackets, I’m going to get one for all of them.”