Pollard wins Blizzard; Hicks in Trucks after Boyett DQed; Cotto takes Outlaws after WInslow DQed; McDonald wins Pure Stocksadmin
Pollard Powers by Roderick for Universal Fabricators 100 Win,
26th Career LM Win at 5 Flags
By Chuck Corder
Bubba Pollard has a knack for making the impossible look effortless.
It’s easy to run out of adjectives and superlatives when Pollard’s name comes up. Across 100-plus wins they’ve already all been either uttered or written. And, at the same time, there’s some point in every Pollard performance that leaves you awestruck.
It happened Friday night when No. 26 got his 26th career Late Model victory at Five Flags Speedway. Coming down the home stretch of the Universal Fabricators 100, Pollard somehow had enough muscle left in his Super Late Model to pass then-leader Casey Roderick on the outside and pull away from the 23-car field in the final 16 laps.
Following a late restart in the second of four Deep South Cranes Blizzard Series races, the two battled door-to-door for more than one full lap with Roderick on the inside and Pollard outside of him. Pollard forced the issue on the back straightaway, finally passing Roderick as the pair entered Turn No. 3.
“That was a helluva race right there,” said Pollard, who started seventh. “It’s hard coming from seventh against these guys, who are so talented. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard to save. I needed that caution at the end to catch back up.”
Pollard, who won last week’s Allen Turner Hyundai Pro Late Model 100 at Pensacola’s high banks, spoiled what would’ve been Roderick’s first Super Late Model win of the year.
Roderick, the defending Blizzard Series track champion, was impressive. He was a man on a mission Friday at the famed half-mile asphalt oval, getting around Logan Boyett for the lead on Lap 28 and never budging until Pollard arrived 56 laps later.
“This is a big improvement from where we’ve been,” Roderick said of the Ronnie Sanders No. 18. “I’m happy about that. It seems like every time I lead a race, a caution falls and I lose the race on the restart. We just did not have enough grip to keep us out front.
“It takes a big group effort. Racecars are a lot more difficult than I think folks realize. We’re gaining on (Pollard). We’ve got a little bit of work to do still.”
Anthony Sergi, a SLM champion at New Smyrna Speedway, continued to build on his solid year with the Southern Super Series by rounding out the podium in third.
“We’ve started coming out to more Southern Super Series races this year,” Sergi said. “We struggled here a lot the last race. We came out here with vengeance today. When you’re finishing behind Casey Roderick and Ronnie Sanders, and Bubba Pollard, that’s pretty cool. But, we’d like to finish in front of them.”
That promises to be a tall order with Pollard in the field. The Senoia, Ga., driver — who will be back home with his wife next Friday as they expect their second child — now has 19 Blizzard Series wins. That’s 10 more than Augie Grill, who sits second.
There’s just something about Pollard and Pensacola that seems poetic and prophetic each time he arrives.
“We wouldn’t have racing without these fans,” Pollard said, igniting a deafening cheer. “Man, I get excited when I turn around and see this many fans. That’s why I like put the car in Victory Lane.”
Faith Chapel Outlaws
After winning the season opener, Chris Cotto finished second in each of the following Faith Chapel Outlaws 30-lap features.
It happened again Friday night at Five Flags Speedway, as Cotto finished as a close runner-up to Bubba Winslow.
Except this night was different. Winslow was disqualified in post-race technical inspection, giving Cotto his second win of the season and the overall series points lead.
“The car just went tight on us. I don’t know why,” Cotto said in the post-race interview, a half-hour before he eventually learned his fate. “We’ve gotta work on it to make it faster. I’m so sick of second place.”
Conner Sutton was also DQ’d and his third-place finish was tossed out, moving Bill Tutchtone to second and Jason Furrow to third.
Winslow took the lead from Tutchtone on the opening lap, but had to fend off Cotto for the final 29 laps. Winslow came into the night riding a two-race winning streak of two, and around the 20-lap mark he began to pad to his lead.
But Cotto never let him get away as the race ran without a yellow.
“It’s interesting to go 30 laps without a caution,” Winslow said in Victory Lane before meeting his fate. “Sometimes, I wonder if we save too much. Can’t thank this crowd for coming out. I know it’s hot between races.”
WCIparts.com Pro Trucks
Logan Boyett’s wire-to-wire win came unraveled in post-race technical inspection.
Boyett’s No. 9 machine contained unapproved valve springs and his unofficial victory in the WCIparts.com Pro Trucks 30-lap feature was tossed out.
Boyett, the division’s defending track champion, assumed the lead on Lap 1 and withstood furious and repeated challenges from Pro Trucks Snowball Derby champion Joshua Hicks, but Boyett was able to cross the finish line first.
“Josh made me work for it, for sure,” Boyett said. “It’s always tough going up against him. We didn’t have as good of a truck as I felt like we needed. We were tight early.”
But instead of Boyett enjoying his second win of the season, it was Hicks celebrating his second in a row and third overall.
“We were a little loose at the end,” Hicks said. “I think we burnt our stuff up, trying to catch up on him.”
Thirteen-year-old Grant Thompson moved from third to second, remaining within shouting distance of Hicks in the season points standings, and Kody Brusso finished third.
“The goal today was to get a podium finish, and we did that,” Thompson said. “We’re trying our best to get this truck where it needs to be every night.”
Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks
Darryl McDonald III’s youth belies his driving savvy.
The Mobile teenager looked like a seasoned veteran Friday night at Five Flags Speedway in scoring his first Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks 20-lap feature win of the season.
“D3,” as he’s affectionately known, slipped under defending Pure Stocks track champion Robert Balkum on Lap 16 and never looked back.
“We worked hard on this car after qualifying,” McDonald said. “It was still a little loose, and we could’ve been better.”
Balkum finished as runner-up and Caleb Burkett rounded out the podium.
McDonald began to work on Balkum just past halfway. He used his nose to get Balkum outta shape on Lap 11 on the back stretch to set up his move a few laps later.