Good field of Super Late Model drivers to compete Friday for 125 laps.

Good field of Super Late Model drivers to compete Friday for 125 laps.

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Fresh Off a Win, Defending Blizzard Series Champion Pollard Returns to 5 Flags for Season-Opening Rubber & Specialties 125

 

By Chuck Corder

Five Flags Speedway officially kicked off its short-track racing season on March 4.

But the road to the 51st running of the Snowball Derby begins this week at Pensacola’s high banks.

The Super Late Models of the Deep South Cranes Blizzard Series open their year Friday night as the Southern Super Series makes its first stop of the year at the famed half-mile asphalt oval.

Defending and three-time track champion Bubba Pollard — the only Blizzard Series driver to accomplish the hat trick — leads a talented field that will descend upon Five Flags for the Rubber & Specialties, Inc., 125.

Pollard has endured an unpredictable start to his year. He’s experienced a handful of lows, including a pair of DNFs, and some highs thanks to a pair of victories.

After enduring a drought that dated back to January, Pollard regained his winning ways last weekend at Orange County (NC) Speedway, capturing the CARS Tour Mid-Atlantic Classic.

“It feels good. We’ve had fast racecars,” Pollard told Speed51.com. “We’ve got good people behind us. We just couldn’t get the finishes we needed to show for it.”

He looks for a return trip to Victory Lane on Friday at Five Flags. The WCI.com Pro Trucks and Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks share the night’s marquee when the gates open at 5 p.m. Friday.

It will be Military Appreciation Night with a special $5 admission price for all active duty military members. Admission for non-military is as follows: $15 for adults; $12 for seniors, Veterans, and students; $5 for children ages 6 to 11; and free for kids 5 and under.

In addition to a jam-packed night of racing, fans will get a chance to snag keepsakes from the likes of Pollard and their other favorite drivers during an autograph session that will be after heat races for the Pro Trucks and Pure Stocks.

There are few drivers who have dominated at Five Flags like Pollard. He won three of the four SLM races last year in Pensacola, extending his all-time mark for Blizzard Series victories to 16. No other driver has as glowing of a resume than the Senoia, Ga., hotshoe.

The only other driver who stacks up anywhere near Pollard’s tower of accomplishments is another Georgia driver. Casey Roderick, of Lawrenceville, Ga., won all four 100-lap Allen Turner Hyundai Pro Late Model races last season en route to that series track title.

Also a two-time Blizzard Series champion, Roderick once again found his way to Victory Lane during the PLM season opener last month at Five Flags. The last time the SSS raced on April 7 at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, it was Roderick scoring his second straight victory in the North/South SLM Challenge.

Corey Heim, yet another driver hailing from the Peach State, comes into Friday’s race atop the SSS points standings. The teenage driver dazzled in his first SLM start back in March at the Rattler 250, finishing an impressive fifth among the sport’s finest wheelmen who gathered at the legendary South Alabama Speedway.

“It was almost surreal,” Heim told Speed51.com. “I think about 75 laps in I was behind (Canadian teen Raphaël) Lessard, Pollard, (eventual race winner Harris) Burton and all those guys. I was running right with them, we were conserving tires and I felt like I was almost better than them at that time. It’s cool to be around those guys I’ve looked up to and studied. I’ve watched them win tons of races, just surreal to be next to them the entire race.”

Heim gets another crack among elite company Friday night.

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