It seems that everyone had a feeling Bubba Pollard would win the Southern Super Series Rumble by the River 125 Saturday night at Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL), everyone except the Georgia native himself.
“If you had told me yesterday that we were going to win this thing, I would have called you a liar,” Pollard said. “When we started Friday, we struggled really bad.”
Pollard returned to compete at the Alabama half-mile for the first time in three years. Needless to say, the asphalt’s character had changed from Pollard’s memory.
“I haven’t been there in three years, so I didn’t really know what to expect,” Pollard said. “Last time I had been there the race track had a lot of grip in it.”
On race day, Pollard and his crew had just under two hours of practice to finalize any adjustments for qualifying. In two laps, Pollard managed to qualify third fastest, but would still have 125 more to figure out later that night.
“I just didn’t know how abrasive the race track was,” Pollard said. “You have to save [tires] a lot. We came with a whole different setup then we thought the race track needed, so we worked on it.”
Whatever strategy the No. 26 team was able to figure out, worked. In the feature, Pollard was able to take over the lead with 50 laps to go.
“We could roll the center really good and I knew as long as we could do that, we could save more than [the rest of the field] up off the corner,” Pollard said. “And so that’s what we did.”
Pollard had a considerable cushion as he took the white flag and celebrated his third Southern Super Series win of the season, his 19th win in the series overall.
“Josh, Mark and all of these guys over here, Bronson, work their tails off on this thing,” Pollard said. “We don’t give up until the end, that’s for sure.”
Second-place finisher Connor Okrzesik was hoping the Rumble by the River 125 would be his first career win in a Super Late Model.
After setting fast time in qualifying, the 16-year-old driver dominated the majority of the race before Pollard was able to get the upper hand on the penultimate restart of the race.
“We put a new set of tires on when everyone pitted,” Okrzesik said. “The tires didn’t come in until about 15 laps and by then we had just lost Pollard and couldn’t catch him.”
After losing the lead, Okrzesik fought for positions in Pollard’s rearview, at one point being sandwiched between Casey Roderick and Augie Grill in a three-wide battle for second.
“I tried to keep it as clean as possible,” Okrzesik said. “It was just really good, really hard racing. It was a lot of fun.”
Casey Roderick, who came to Montgomery fresh off of a Southern Super Series win at Five Flags Speedway, ended the night in third.
“Thought we had a really good car there to begin with, so we were just taking our time and taking care of the car,” Roderick said. “On that long run before that first caution I started feeling a little free-ness up off the corner. We made some adjustments during a pit stop, but it just wasn’t enough to keep up with Bubba there at the end.”
Though his rematch with Pollard didn’t go as planned, Roderick is already looking forward.
“I’m just glad to be here in the top three,” Roderick said. “We’ll keep working on it and getting better.”
Augie Grill and Lucas Jones rounded out the top five.
Race fans can watch the full Rumble by the River 125 on-demand on the Speed51 Network.
Next up for the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco will be a return trip to Five Flags Speedway (FL) for the third Blizzard Series race of the season on July 20.
Southern Super Series Unofficial Results
Montgomery Motor Speedway – June 30, 2018
Pos # Driver
1 26 Bubba Pollard
2 14C Connor Okrzesik
3 18 Casey Roderick
4 112 Augie Grill
5 16 Lucas Jones
6 78 Corey Heim
7 99 Logan Seavey
8 30 Bobby Knox Jr.
9 79 Kyle Bryant
10 4 Kyle Plott
11 22 Brandon Herbert
12 98 Justin Ashburn
13 9 Hudson Holder