Bubba Pollard continued to show that he is at the top of the heap in the South on Saturday night by winning the Midwest Cooling Towers Pro Late Model Series 100 lap feature at Mobile International Speedway (AL) in dominant fashion. In route to his fourth win of 2011, Pollard lapped all but six of the cars in the race, and led all but two of the 100 laps after starting on the pole following the Dice Roll Invert.
"We had a good car,” said Pollard. “We didn't put [new] tires on the car in practice and didn't know what the car was going to do in qualifying, but we've been working on the race trim now that the cars are impounded and you don't get to work on the cars after qualifying. We gave up a little in qualifying, but we were lucky to get the dice roll and start out front and get the clean air. I think that clean air here is really important.
"We really didn't gave a great racecar, it was free off of the corners. Actually, the harder I drove it toward the end of the race, the better it got. I just tried to keep heat in the right front so I could get up off the corner and I changed my driving style a little bit to keep the car up under me."
Mike Garvey raced in the top three for the first half of the race. On lap 52, Josh Bragg lost a right front tire and as a result came to a stop at the entrance of turn three, bringing out the caution. On the ensuing restart, DJ VanderLey made a hard challenge on the outside of Pollard fighting for the lead, however four laps later he began to drift back. Garvey took advantage, drawing up to VanderLey’s rear bumper and passing him on lap 69 to take second. Garvey then started to chase Pollard, but couldn’t get close enough to catch the Senoia, Georgia native.
“It was time to go... you try to save something but we just didn’t have anything to go with,” said Garvey. “Everybody ran a good race, it was a clean race. We ran hard and finished second, but we just got to make it a little better.”
Eddie Craig put up a solid third place finish after starting towards the back of the field. After racing for many years, then scaling back for a few, Craig brought a new Late Model prepared by Panhandle Motorsports to Mobile and cautiously worked his way up through the field. After 16th and 20th place finishes at South Alabama in March and Pensacola last week, Craig was very happy with the progress he and his team are making so far.
“I had a great night,” said Craig. “The car was good all night long. We started out in the back. This was our third race back in a Pro Late Model. Mike Williamson with Panhandle Motorsports prepared that car. The car is very fast but I just qualified off the pace so I thought I’d just ride for a while and then try to come on up around lap 50 or 60. The car has the capability of winning a race this year but I need to be on the track more and put some laps down. It was fun, a lot of fun.”
DJ VanderLey was fast once again in his VDL Fuel Systems Late Model. The 2010 MIS Pro Late Model Champion set the fastest lap in qualifying and started seventh after the invert. By lap 30, VanderLey had moved up to second, and was looking to be a threat to Bubba Pollard. His best effort came just past half-way after a restart following a caution. He restarted lap 52 on the outside, and held his line for four laps, pressuring Pollard for the lead. VanderLey then began to fade and as the field strung out around the speedway, he found himself in a late race battle for fourth with Josh Bragg. The two made contact coming off of turn four on lap 97 to bring out the race’s final yellow flag. Afterward, VanderLey was able to hold on to finish fourth and maintained the points lead in the Midwest Cooling Tower Pro Late Model Series standings.
“The car was free all night, and just worn out the tires,” said VanderLey. “I drove as hard as I could, apparently a little bit too hard and worn the car out. We tried, gave the best we had tonight, but it wasn’t quite enough. The main thing we learned tonight was to pace a little more so we don’t wear out the tires as hard.”
VanderLey will take his lesson, and the points lead, into the next Pro Late Model event at MIS on May 14th. He leads Mike Garvey by 19 points as he attempts to claim back to back championships at the half-mile oval. Race winner Bubba Pollard is now eighth, 60 points behind VanderLey after missing the first race due being in “THE RACE” at North Wilkesboro. The next Pro Late Model event in the deep south is at Montgomery Motor Speedway as the Show Me the Money Series continues their 2011 season.
MIDWEST COOLING TOWERS
PRO LATE MODEL SERIES
1)Bubba Pollard 2)Mike Garvey 3)Eddie Craig 4)DJ VanderLey 5)Josh Bragg 6)Donnie Hamrac 7)Kyle Bryant 8)Thomas Praytor 9)Logan Boyett 10) Michael Pitts 11) Dave Mader III 12) Greg Poole 13) David Jones 14) Kris Kahalley