MONTGOMERY, AL — story and audio by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — Chris Seelman photo — Hello, three-peat.
Bubba Pollard struck when it counted on Saturday night in the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco Rumble by the River 125, taking the lead from race dominator Donnie Wilson with eight laps to go and driving away to just under a straightaway advantage and his third-straight SSS victory at the Montgomery Motor Speedway.
The win was Pollard’s sixth career SSS win since the series’ inception in 2013.
“I can’t believe we finally got back to Victory Lane here,” a teary-eyed Pollard, who had not won in a Super Late Model at Montgomery since 2005, said in the winner’s circle. “This is incredible right now. It means a lot.”
“We just had to dig down deep and sometimes you just have to drive harder when you don’t have the best racecar. We didn’t have the best racecar tonight. I sure would have liked to have gotten to run with that 9 car at the end but I can’t thank Donnie enough for running me clean at the end. He could have easily run down in the corner and taken us both out.”
Pollard moved into the top two after a rocker arm in NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott’s #9 Chevrolet broke and sent him to the garage with 97 laps complete, ending Elliott’s night while the Dawsonville, Georgia native was battling ferociously for the win.
“It’s life, it happens,” Elliott explained after the event. “I hate it, but we’ll just move on to the next one. Had fun tonight.”
Elliott, who won the Sunoco Pole Award with a scorching lap of 18.451 seconds, led the field to the green flag and pulled away in the early stages while several battles for position raged behind him. As Augie Grill charged through the field after pitting before the green flag and dropping to the rear, Elliott led a train of four cars up front that set the pace early.
At Lap 19, the first rumblings of change began to stir at the front of the field, as defending Southern Super Series champion Daniel Hemric charged to the inside and grabbed the lead, with drivers quickly shuffling Elliott back to the end of the top five. Hemric’s lead would be short-lived, however, as co-points leader Casey Smith came calling and snagged the top spot just four laps later.
As the leaders set a torrid pace up front, the race’s dominant car began to come to life as Donnie Wilson, who scored his first SSS victory earlier in the season at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, blasted up the inside in Turn 2 and took the top spot away with 34 laps complete, proceeding to start checking out from the rest of the field.
The story of comers and goers continued as 50 laps went up on the board, with early front-runner Hemric beginning to fall through the field as his car faded before the competition yellow. Hemric had dropped all the way to ninth by Lap 55, and even polesitter Chase Elliott was starting to drop back from the leaders after getting back to fourth just before the competition caution flew at Lap 75, with Donnie Wilson leading Casey Smith, Pollard, Elliott and Augie Grill.
75 laps went into the books without a caution and the field re-stacked after making adjustments and bolting on fresh rubber, but drivers and fans knew the clean racing wasn’t going to last forever. On the Lap 76 restart, Augie Grill made a daring three-wide maneuver in Turn 2 as Donnie Wilson pulled away, but just seven laps later, Grill and Casey Smith would make contact while battling for third, sending Grill around in Turn 2 and giving drivers no place to avoid piling in. Collected in the melee were John-Hunter Nemechek, who had worked his way into the top five before the break, and hometown favorite Hunter Robbins.
Nemechek, who was shoved into the side of the Augie Grill machine, retired from the race with heavy front end damage.
Two laps clicked off after the restart before the race’s final caution flew at Lap 85, for a spin in Turn 2 by the 18 of Robbins, and once the green flag flew again it was Elliott applying heavy pressure to the rear decklid of Donnie Wilson for ten straight laps before his problems arose at Lap 98 and retired the #9 for the night.
Once the #9 was gone, it was Pollard to turned up the wick as Wilson’s car began to fade. Pollard closed from almost a straightaway back to within a car length with 15 laps to go and then used veteran patience as he searched high and low before making the definitive pass for the win in Turn 2 on the outside lane at Lap 117.
From there, Pollard never looked back, even after watching Wilson lead 83 laps on the night. Behind he and Wilson at the finish, Casey Smith fought off a hard-charging Daniel Hemric to complete the podium in third. Hemric slotted in in fourth at the flag, with young Georgia native Anderson Bowen completing the top five at the finish.
In other Montgomery Motor Speedway action, Jeremy Williams took the mini-mod victory after original race winner Chase Bradlin was DQed in post-race tech for an illegal rear end. Former ARCA driver Justin South led wire-to-wire in the open sportsman division to grab his first win at Montgomery this season, and Joe Bethea Jr. took the street stock victory in one of the more entertaining shows of the night after fighting off a hard charge from Dwayne Wessenberg on the final lap. That duel for the lead was underscored by a furious battle for third between last week’s street stock winner Perry Patino and David Wood. Patino ultimately completed the podium.
Montgomery Motor Speedway is next in action in three weeks on May 31st with the “Night of Destruction” demolition derby, while the Southern Super Series returns to competition May 23rd and 24th with their second Gulf Coast swing of the season at 5 Flags Speedway and Mobile International Speedway.
For more information on Montgomery Motor Speedway, visit the track’s website at www.montgomerymotorspeedway.org/. For more information on the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco, visit SouthernSuperSeries.com, or find the series on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @SoSuperSeries.
RESULTS: Montgomery Motor Speedway; May 10th, 2014
Southern Super Series Super Late Models (125 laps): 1. Bubba Pollard, 2. Donnie Wilson, 3. Casey Smith, 4. Daniel Hemric, 5. Anderson Bowen, 6. Kyle Grissom, 7. Augie Grill, 8. Hunter Robbins, 9. Brady Boswell, 10. Casey Roderick, 11. Allen Karnes, 12. Will Gallaher, 13. Kyle Bryant, 14. Chase Elliott, 15. John Hunter Nemechek
Audio with race winner Bubba Pollard:
Audio with runner-up Donnie Wilson:
Audio with 3rd-place Casey Smith:
Audio with 4th-place Daniel Hemric:
Post-race audio with Augie Grill:
Post-race audio with Chase Elliott:
Post-race audio with John-Hunter Nemechek:
Open Sportsman (35 laps): 1. Justin South, 2. Justin Caton, 3. Greg Sanford Jr., 4. Shelby Reuse, 5. Cameron Berry, 6. Jason Furrow, 7. Joe Bethea Jr., 8. Larry Speakman
Audio with winner Justin South:
Street Stocks (30 laps): 1. Joe Bethea Jr., 2. Dwayne Wessenberg, 3. Perry Patino, 4. David Wood, 5. Chance Atkins, 6. Adam Freeman, 7. Kameryn Wessenberg, 8. Josh Wilson
Mini-Mods (20 laps): 1. Jeremy Williams, 2. Chris Landers, 3. Joel Collier, 4. Heath Williams, 5. Nicholas Doehring, 6. Matthew Robbins, DQ. Chase Bradlin