Pollard and VanderLey to Renew Rivalry In Tucson 100
Pro Late Models Return to Five Flags Speedway Friday
By Chuck Corder
Where’s Michael Buffer when you need him?

The engines might not be the only things rumbling for the Allen Turner Tucson 100 Friday at Five Flags Speedway. Super stocks, sportsmen and bombers join the pro late models when the gates open at 5 p.m. Friday.

The pit gate opens at 2 p.m. Friday and passes run $25. The grandstands open at 5 p.m. Friday and admission is as follows: $15 Adults; $14 Seniors/Military; $12 Students; $5 Child (6-11); Under 6 is Free.

When we last saw the pro late models, Bubba Pollard and D.J. VanderLey were beating and banging down the stretch of the Sonata 100 on June 10.

Pollard eventually won, but tempers continued to flare in Victory Lane, with VanderLey and him exchanging some heated words.

More than a month later, cooler heads still haven’t prevailed.

“If it gets to a point where it’s either (Pollard) or me, I’m not letting anything slide,” VanderLey said. “But if you are aggressive toward me, you can expect it back.”

The affable 19 year old became an immediate fan favorite last season, dominating the pro late model class en route to the track championship.

This year, as the division has gone from 40- to 100-lap races, VanderLey is winless and his frustrations are close to boiling over.

Pollard, who leads the points race and already owns 10 late model wins across the southeast this season, believes the pressure is getting to VanderLey.

“He’s so hungry to win and we’ve had so much success,” Pollard said. “You realize who your true friends are when you start winning. I’m not worry about it at all. What went on between me and him is no different than any incident that happens in racing.

“I’ve been done how he said I raced him. But, if you can’t touch a little bit, you don’t need to be out there.”

Pollard and VanderLey will be out there with a strong field of more than 20 of the south’s top late model drivers. Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) series driver Hal Martin, eyeing a trucks deal for next season, makes his return to Five Flags for the first time since 2009.

Coming off a win last week at Gresham Motorsports Park outside of Atlanta, Pollard arrives in Pensacola with double digits in victories. He had nine all of last season and 12 the year before.

“Racing is a very humble sport,” Pollard said. “You could be on top one minute, having a good year like we’re having, but there’s always the thought that any minute it could go south on you just as quick as it came. It can come to an end any minute.”

Drought aside, VanderLey’s circumstances aren’t that drastic yet. He remains fourth in points at Five Flags and leads the class at Mobile International Speedway.

While Pollard has bounced around for the last month, winning and posting top-fives at tracks across the southeast, VanderLey hasn’t raced since last month.

“It’s been too long,” VanderLey said. “I got the car totally ready the week after our last race. It’s been sitting there waiting to go. I’m just ready to be back out.

“I thought we had the race won and lost it there in closing laps because of what happened with Bubba. There’s nothing I want more, especially now after that last race, to go and get our first 100-lap win.”

Ding. Ding.

Bubba Pollard (top) and D.J. VanderLey will renew their rivalry Friday night at Five Flags. (Speed51.com Photos)