Pollard wins Blizzard; Ard, Hicks, Burkett post victories,admin
Pollard Hits Century Mark for Wins in Last Decade, Captures Mid-Summer Sizzler 75
By Chuck Corder
Bubba Pollard has enjoyed one of the most distinguished careers for a short-track driver.
Thankfully, for Pensacola racing fans, Pollard has achieved many of those feats at Five Flags Speedway.
The Senoia, Ga., stalwart added to his decorated legacy Friday night at Pensacola’s high banks when he captured the Mid-Summer Sizzler 75.
Pollard’s victory got him to 100 wins just this decade and gave him 20 career victories in the Deep South Crane Rentals Blizzard Series, far and away more than any other driver.
“This was tough,” said Pollard, who has 12 Late Model wins this year. “The car was real free, and it was a heckuva races. It feels good to win a race and, then, see all the fans celebrating for you.”
A packed and overjoyed grandstands roared with approval as Pollard lit up the track with burnouts in his celebratory lap.
“That’s what we’re here for,” Pollard said, pointing at the fans. “We couldn’t do it without fans in the stands.”
Casey Roderick ran a valiant runner-up to Pollard and Donnie Wilson rounded out the podium.
The 75 lapper was part of a new format the Blizzard Series, in conjunction with the Southern Super Series, experimented with Friday. It was a rousing success, especially with the addition of three 10-lap heat races for the field of 18 cars.
“I really enjoyed the heat races,” Pollard said. “It mixes things up. I hope the fans enjoyed them.”
Wilson escaped to clean air, nudging then-leader Stephen Nasse out of the way with 26 laps completed. For a while, it appeared as if Wilson would end his long drought at the famed half-mile asphalt oval, building a commanding lead over Pollard and Roderick.
Around the 45-lap mark, though, Pollard began reeling in Wilson. Pollard pounced the moment he saw Wilson wobble on Lap 52, bringing Roderick to second with him.
A lap later, Roderick briefly took the lead from Pollard or maybe it was Pollard yielding the lead to Roderick as the pair approached lapped traffic.
Sure, enough with Roderick on the inside, Pollard used the lapped cars as picks and reclaimed the lead.
Each time Roderick made another charge, Pollard deftly maneuvered though lapped traffic and Roderick drifted away from Pollard’s bumper.
“That was a lotta fun,” Roderick said. “The new format, I thought it was really interesting. My car got a little too tight in the center of the corner. I had to use the throttle to turn the car. We’ll work on it, and continue to get better, but we made some gains on (Pollard) tonight.
“Things haven’t fallen our way. Eventually, it should turn in our favor. I can’t thank the fans enough for this turnout.”
WCIparts.com Pro Trucks
Without much fanfare, Joshua Hicks made a gigantic splash by winning the Pro Trucks Snowball Derby in December.
Fast forward to the present, and the Senoia, Ga., teenager has become a household name this season at Five Flags Speedway.
Hicks won a third consecutive WCIparts.com Pro Trucks 30-lap feature Friday at the famed half-mile asphalt oval, earning a new rival on his way to Victory Lane.
“It was good. My team has got this truck fast,” Hicks said. “We put so much work into getting this truck right.”
As he finished his statement, Hicks was interrupted by defending Pro Trucks track champion Logan Boyett. The Pensacola driver took umbrage with the way Hicks passed him in the closing laps with Boyett leading the race from the first lap.
Boyett watched his huge lead disintegrate with Hicks shaving off tenths of a second with less than 10 laps left. The pair slammed into each other on the front straightaway with Hicks surging into clean air and Boyett eventually bringing his No. 9 to the pits.
Thirteen-year-old Grant Thompson came home as runner-up and Milton’s Brandon Burks rounded out the podium.
“I missed my line a couple times and when I did that I burned the right rear off,” Thompson said.
The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen
Shanna Ard hasn’t raced the entire The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen schedule this year.
But, when he has brought his silver-and-green No. 29, the Milton driver has been contending for wins with three top-five finishes coming into Friday night at Five Flags Speedway.
A former two-time Sportsmen track champion, Ard finally got his first trip to Victory Lane in 2019 with a dominant 25-lap feature performance Friday.
“The car was real free, but I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Ard said. “We made change at the last minute, and I’m glad I did because I would’ve ended up in the back.”
Series points leader Mark Barnhill, driving his nephew Wesley Barnhill’s Sportsmen, finished second and Tommy Blocker rounded out the podium.
Despite smoke billowing from the back of his borrowed car, Barnhill was able to challenge Ard in the waning stages.
“He helped me out tonight, and I can’t thank him enough,” Barnhill said of his nephew.
Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks
Caleb Burkett jumped on top of his No. 24 car and celebrated by waving the checkered flag wildly.
He racked up a handful of wins and 11 top-five finishes in 13 feature races, and capped it all off with a Pure Stocks Snowball Derby title last season.
But this year has been more valleys than peaks for Burkett.
That changed, at least for one night, Friday at Five Flags Speedway when Burkett dominated en route to victory in what was a wild Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks 20-lap feature.
“We’ve been through a dry spell,” Burkett admitted. “Every error we’ve made this year has been driver error. But I told Dad last night that I felt good. I knew this car could take the money. Robert (Balkum) never makes it easy, but it’s fun racing with him.”
Burkett took the lead from Balkum after two laps, but the defending track champion managed to still come away with a runner-up showing. Thomas Norman, who was involved in not one but two cautions, rallied home to finish third.
Norman began mixing it up early when he got tangled up with Jerry Goff Jr. on the opening lap and sent Goff for a spin and into the outside wall along the front stretch. Goff, it what appeared to be unintentional, slid down the speedway and squeezed Norman’s No. 21 into the inside wall. That prompted Norman to respond with a retaliatory love tap to Goff’s bumper.
Norman was also involved in a huge crash midway through the race that caused severe damage and ended the night early for several cars.
Balkum made a few attempts to reclaim the lead, but Burkett wouldn’t be denied.
“We had couple fender benders, and that knocked something out of the front end and we weren’t as fast,” Balkum said.