Pulls Away For Red Eye 100 Win In Whelen All-American Opener
“I’m so happy we won here,” said the 27-year-old from Senola, Georgia.
Pollard, one of the most accomplished Super Late Model drivers throughout the southeast, added a trophy from the Florida banked half-mile to his collection courtesy of a victory in the season-opening Red Eye 100.
In the process, Pollard became the first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I winner of 2015.
“That’s pretty cool; that’s awesome,” said Pollard. “It means a lot coming down here and winning at a race track we’ve never won at. We’ve been good, we’ve had cars capable of winning and to finally get it — we’ve worked hard for this andn all the guys who help me out have worked hard for this — it’s pretty special to us.”
Bobby Good finished second, followed by fast qualifier Daniel Keene Jr., Chad Pierce and Spencer Davis.
Earlier in the night, Davis won the 50-lap Pro Late Model feature.
Pollard was the champion of the regional touring super late model series, the Southern Super Series, last year and finished fifth in the Governor’s Cup at New Smyrna in November.
He missed the top qualifying spot Saturday afternoon by one-thousands of a second to Keene, who posted a time of 17.641. Keene drew a eight for the number of the top cars that would invert for the feature. That put Good and Matthew Craig on the front row, and Pollard and Keene back in Row 4.
Good paced the first 77 laps before the race’s second caution opened the door for Pollard, who had moved past Derek Griffith for second nine laps earlier. Following the restart, Pollard was able to clear Good for the lead on the backstretch of Lap 82.
Good got one more shot when a subsiquent spin set up a 11-lap sprint to the finish. But Pollard rocketed off Turn 4 as the green flag waved and set sail.
“The tires cooled off there and it was able to tighten the car up,” said Pollard, “and I was able to get up off the corner. I knew I could get a good run on him restarting on the outside. And as long as I could clear him off (Turn) 2, I could win the race there.”
It was deja vu — in a bad way — for Good.
He dominated the first portion of the 200-lap Governor’s Cup, too, only to see Travis Cope surge late and take the win.
“To be honest, I wasn’t sure how the car was going to react after the caution,” said Good, pointing out the car was ‘awesome’ through the first two-thirds of the race, but under caution when the tires cooled off, it was tougher to handle through the turns. “We just didn’t have a short-run car.”
“We prepared the whole week for a long run,” Good said. “We had the right car. We just didn’t have the right caution periods.”
Good said that after the first hand full of laps following the restart, the car started coming back to where it had been most of the race.
But by then, he was out of laps.
Joe Boyd finished sixth, followed by Anthony Campi, Griffith, Anthony Sergi and Stephen Nasse.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Joey Coulter finished 18th. Defending race winner Travis Cope qualified fourth but struggled all night and finished 22nd in the 24-car field.
Nasse won the Red Eye 100 in 2011 and 2013. Cope swept the Red Eye 100, Pete Orr Memorial 100 and Governer’s Cup last season.
Racing will return to New Smyrna on Saturday, Jan. 24 with the Pete Orr Memorial 100. The track will be in the spotlight in February with its 49th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing from Feb. 13-21. The event will include the season-opener of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East on Feb. 15, as well as NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing headlined by the Div. I Super Late Model division and the track’s Pro Late Models and Tour Type Modifieds.