Bubba Pollard came into the All American 400 having won more than 90 Late Model races in his career, but he had never won one of the traditional crowning jewels of Super Late Model racing.
With the return of the Super Late Models to the All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN), Pollard knew he was going to have to be patient. For the first time since 2000, the race returned to its glory with a true 400-lap test of endurance and attrition.
Pollard waited to play his tune on Sunday and took the lead with 29 laps to go. He then cruised to his first crown jewel win of his career.
“I can’t play that guitar,” Pollard said of the traditional guitar trophy awarded to the winner of the All-American 400. “I have been waiting a long time for a win like this. I didn’t do it alone. I couldn’t be here without all the guys who help us out every week. Senneker Performance, Earnest Performance, Five Star Race Car Bodies, PFC, Hamner; we all won the All American 400.”
Pollard only led the final 29 laps after starting third. He rode around most of the day and didn’t make his presence known until the final 100 laps. That’s when he started advancing spots before the final pit stop.
“We didn’t have the best car in the first half of the race. We adjusted on it and it got a lot better. I thought we were done after that first caution and we got so far back. This thing is good; it’s a brand new race car and it’s two-for-two after this. I am glad we could do it at the All American when it was a true 400 laps again.”
For Pollard it was the first time he had led the All American 400. In fact, it’s his third podium finish in the event. He has runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2012.
Casey Roderick dominated the early stages of the race and led a race-high 141 laps. With 72 laps to go he was black flagged and parked when a piece of lead came loose from his number-7 and landed on the track. He finished 25th.
Dalton Sargeant and Stephen Nasse each took turns at the point and lead a combined 125 laps. Sargeant got shuffled out of the lead in the final 100 laps and Pollard passed Nasse, who ended up fourth.
Derek Thorn rallied to finish second and Raphael Lessard led laps early and finished third after winning the Last Chance Race. Pole-sitter Preston Peltier hung around the top five all day and finished fifth.
Jeff Choquette was another strong contender who led 81 laps; he ended up 19th in the final rundown. In all, seven drivers swapped the lead 13 times around the big 5/8th’s of a mile oval.
Two-for-Two: Bubba Pollard’s new Senneker Performance car has won both its starts. He won the Blizzard Series finale at Five Flags Speedway last week in the same car.
Strong Contenders Out Early: Ty Majeski and Todd Gilliland were two drivers that many had their eye on. Both never made it past lap 225 and were not contenders at the finish.
First Time in a Long Time: The All American 400 was a true 400-lap race for the first time since the year 2000. A plan to run 400 laps was cut short a few seasons ago after rain ended the night early.
Not so Fast: A total of 12 cautions slowed the race.
Two California Natives: With Derek Thorn and Preston Peltier getting top-five runs, it marked the first time two drivers from California were in the top five in the All-American 400.
Story By: Elgin Traylor: Correspondent, Speed51.com – Twitter: @elgintraylor
Photo Credit: Speed51.com / Bruce Nuttleman