Bubba Pollard dove under Kyle Benjamin with 30 laps to go to take home the Timber 100 Viper Series race on Saturday night at South Alabama Speedway.
Pollard came to South Alabama looking to sweep the weekend for the second time this year. He and his Ronnie Sanders Racing team swept the first Gulf Coast Championship Weekend in March. He started out the weekend on a high note as well, after he worked his way from sixth starting position to the win on Friday at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla.
Pollard set fast time in qualifying at South Alabama, but found himself starting mid-pack after a random redraw of the top five qualifiers. Pollard drew the unlucky number five pill, while young Kyle Benjamin drew one.
“With not as many cars here as last night, we can get some long green flag runs. I just need to save my equipment and be there at there at the end” Pollard said before the field went green.
It took three attempts to get the Timber 100 officially underway. On the initial start, Brandon Odom, who started second, looped his car in turn four while battling Benjamin for the lead. The second re-start was waived off after Race Director Kevin Chance didn’t like the way the field took off.
Pollard was proved correct about his long, green run theory, for after the field took the green a third time they wouldn’t be slowed again until lap 96. Odom used his outside front row starting position to get a run on Benjamin to grab the lead down the backstretch.
The man on the move in the early stages of the event was Josh Hamner. Hamner picked off cars with relative ease in the early laps and found himself on the rear bumper of Odom by lap 12. Hamner dove low in turn one and scooted by Odom as they field exited turn two. Hamner looked to have the car to beat, as he began to pull away from the field, but his good night would come to a premature end at lap 29. The motor in Hamner’s family owned number 7 went up in smoke as he entered turn one.
“It’s just Pro Late Model racing these days” Hamner said. “You can either have a built two-barrel motor or the crate motor. The crate motors get a bigger carb than the built motors do. When you have that smaller carb, you have to lean on it a little more than you like.”
Kyle Benjamin assumed the lead after Hamner had his issues, and used lap traffic to stretch out a big lead. Behind Benjamin, Odom hounded Pollard for second and Anderson Bowen ran nose to tail with Korey Ruble trying to run down the top three.
Lapped traffic and an ill handling car for Benjamin allowed the field to close down on him just past halfway. The top three cars ran bumper-to-bumper-to-bumper for 15 laps. Pollard laid the bumper to Benjamin numerous times, but the young South Carolina driver refused to relinquish the top spot. Pollard stuck his nose in under Benjamin in turn one to take the lead for the first time on lap 68. Odom followed Pollard through for second.
“I had a good car on the start” said Benjamin, “but over the second half we wore the right front out and the car just wouldn’t turn.”
Behind the front three, Anderson Bowen and Korey Ruble continued to try to chase down the leaders. Bowen closed down on Benjamin for third by lap 80, and was to his inside off of turn four when the car got out from under him and he spun his Ford. Bowen was able to keep going, however, and no yellow was issued.
Odom did not allow Pollard to check out, as the two drivers worked lap traffic with relative ease until lap 96. Pollard and Odom were attempting to lap Jacob Wallace and Mason Massey, who were running side by side for position. Wallace and Massey made contact that turned Wallace head first into the outside wall off of turn four. Both drivers were ok, but both of their nights were done.
After the restart, Pollard was able to pull away and win by 0.206 seconds over Odom, Benjamin, Bowen and Ruble. The win was Pollard’s second Viper win of 2011. He also took over the points lead by three points over Odom.
“We really don’t worry about points racing, as long as you finish the best as you and win races, the points will come” Pollard said. “It’s going to be tough, but I think we can win a couple of more races and be right there.”