Korey Ruble put up a valiant effort in round five of the Viper Series, the Copperhead 100, at South Alabama Speedway. After starting on pole, Ruble led 62 laps, outpacing the field, and burning up his rubber in the process. On lap 63, Senioa, Georgia driver Bubba Pollard used the inside lane to work by Ruble and take the lead. Ruble would fade fast, settling in the fifth position, while Pollard set sail, leading the remaining 38 laps in route to his 11th victory of 2011.
After struggling the previous race weekend at Mobile Speedway’s Twin 50s with engine woes, Pollard came into South Alabama ready to step back onto the top step of the podium and back to his winning ways. The Ronnie Sanders Racing team brought a different engine package, which was put to the test in the hot Alabama summer temperatures. Pollard’s car ran hotter than he would have liked, with engine fumes making their way into the cockpit toward the end of the race. However, with a new engine combination, and the experience of two prior Viper wins this season, Pollard was able to keep pace with a very fast Korey Ruble until just the right moment.
“We had an engine package that was new to us,” said Pollard. “I felt like we had a pretty good race car. We sat there and ran Korey pretty hard the whole race, and it was probably the hardest we’ve run at South Alabama in a long time.
“We had to work for it tonight. Brandon (Odom) had a good car and Korey had a good car also. I thought Korey set a pretty good pace, pretty quick. I didn’t want to fall back because I knew Brandon had a pretty good car and knew it would be tough to get back by him. I had to stay up close to (Korey) and pressure him to hopefully make him wear out his equipment. We were able to get him right after halfway and we were able to lead the rest of the way.”
While Pollard, Ruble and Odom broke away from the field early in the race, Dakota Stroup bided his time, riding in the top five for most of the race. With 30 to go, the fast qualifier started his charge, and with three laps to go, made a strong move around Odom to take second. The move came just a bit too late to have enough time to catch Pollard. Stroup’s second place finish is his second in a row at South Alabama, the first coming in the Diamondback 100 earlier in the season.
“We started off pretty good,” said a worn Stroup. “I think Korey set a pretty fast pace and everybody burned their stuff up, and Bubba saved his stuff better than everyone else. We had a good car, all my guys busted their butt all weekend, and hey we come out of here with a second. We didn’t come to run second, I’m a little disappointed; I think we are all disappointed. I guess it happens.”
Brandon Odom won his first Pro Late Model race in the Diamondback 100 back in June. So far this season, Odom has consistently found himself in the top five in the Viper Series races, and in the Copperhead 100, felt like he had a very strong shot at beating Bubba Pollard.
“We had a really good car,” said a happy Odom. “I followed Bubba pretty much the whole race because he could pace his tires so good. Then when it got to go time, I realized that I was a little better than him. I ran him down and then with like four to go we had that caution. When we restarted, we got lifted from behind which messed us up. Still, we had a good car and we’ll take it.”
With the finish of the Copperhead 100, the point battle in the Viper Series points standings is very close going into the final points paying race, September’s Cottonmouth 100. Bubba Pollard’s win has brought him to within nine points of leader Brandon Odom. The fight is between the two, as third place Korey Ruble finds himself 64 markers behind Pollard. While the race for the title has set the stage for an exciting season finale, Pollard doesn’t think about the points.
“The only time I feel pressured is (Snowball) Derby time,” said Pollard. “I go out to win every race, then the points take care of themselves.”