Race Weekend Central

Bubba Pollard Overcomes Qualifying Woes, Finishes 6th in Xfinity Debut

RICHMOND, Va. – Bubba Pollard climbed out of his No. 88 JR Motorsports machine after Saturday’s (March 30) NASCAR Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250 with an exhilarated “Woo!” and a smile.

The fastest driver in practice held at 8:30 a.m. ET that same morning, Pollard subsequently went out and qualified dead last of those that made a lap attempt less than an hour later.

Then, the driver making his series debut went out and finished sixth in the ToyotaCare 250.

“I needed track position and probably needed to be a little more aggressive on restarts and things like that,” Pollard said after the race. “… I tried hard as I could to be patient — it’s tough, because when you want to go, you want to go. It’s a lot of fun, they gave me a racecar and I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to do it with.”

Pollard outran all of his fellow JR Motorsports teammates, including Justin Allgaier, who ran at or near the front most of the afternoon.

“I don’t feel like I overachieved,” Pollard said. “If I overachieved, I’d be winning the race. People were asking me ‘what do you expect?’ and “what are your goals?’ Realistically, a top 10, but when I wake up, I feel like I’ve got an opportunity, I’m capable of winning and the racecar’s capable of winning.”

Pollard laid down a lap at 22.855 seconds (118.136 mph) in the early morning practice, pacing the field, and then had to cut his way through the field once the green flag dropped.

“I hope so,” Pollard said when asked if he thought he’d made good on his hope to make the short-track community proud. “I disappointed them in qualifying. I know some people were laughing at me — hell, I was laughing at myself, I guess.

“If I wouldn’t have gotten us in that hole in qualifying, I think we could’ve had that track position and made a difference. It was a lot of fun.”

For the veteran late model driver, the afternoon unfolded in a methodical fashion, with the No. 88 slowly working his way through the field as the laps went on.

He had yet to crack the top 30 with over 10 laps complete, but was 21st by lap 50 under caution and 15th a few laps after the ensuing restart. He sat in the top 15 at the end of stage one and remained around that running position until late in the race, when the final stage saw the No. 88 continue his advance.

“I knew we had a better racecar than some of those guys that we started around. I just needed to be patient. It took me 10, 15, 20 laps out there to get in a rhythm, and still at the end of the race I would miss my marks and not do what I needed to do. It’s tough to stay disciplined in a racecar to hit those marks every lap.”

Pollard told Frontstretch before the race that the deal with Dale Earnhardt Jr. came together in late 2023, as the pair had competed against one another previously.

Sponsor Rheem jumped on board, a longtime backer of JRM cars. Pollard also said he had Richmond penciled as a venue he’d like to make his debut at, and so the No. 88 hauler loaded up for the Commonwealth.

“It does mean a lot, because there’s a lot of great racecar drivers out there that people never see,” Pollard said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity that Rheem and Dale Jr. gave me. It means a lot, especially to me, my family, just everyone. Hopefully we get to do it again.”

Multiple crew members and drivers, including Parker Kligerman, made their way over to Pollard after the race and congratulated him.

“I thought they were great,” he said of the racers around him. “I got into AJ [Allmendinger] there, I just overdrove it one time — these things are easy to overdrive and just slide up the racetrack. I got into him one time, I know I ticked him off. Me and Parker raced all day — they were aggressive on the restarts, but for the most part I enjoyed racing with them a lot.”

The big question, though, was if Pollard would want to jump back in an Xfinity Series machine.

“I’d love to do it one more time,” he said. “I was looking at a couple things. I know Iowa is open, I think. I would love to get some sponsorship to put it together and I’d like a second go it — the odds were against me this weekend.

“It’s hard to jump in these cars, no matter what you do, and expect to win. I’d love one more shot.”

About the author

Adam Cheek joined Frontstretch as a contributing writer in January 2019. A 2020 graduate of VCU, he works as a producer and talent for Audacy Richmond's radio stations. In addition to motorsports journalism, Adam also covered and broadcasted numerous VCU athletics for the campus newspaper and radio station during his four years there. He's been a racing fan since the age of three, inheriting the passion from his grandfather, who raced in amateur events up and down the East Coast in the 1950s.

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sb

I love the way that JRM gives so many diverse drivers the opportunity to show their ability in good cars!

DoninAjax

Someone wrote a long time ago that the only Bubba in NA$CAR Cup should be Pollard!

Shayne

…and DEI stands for Dale Earnhardt, Inc.

DoninAjax

He deserves a ride in Cup more than some other drivers but why should he be a small fish in a big pond instead of the other way around?

Last edited 13 days ago by DoninAjax
Deacon Blues

Glad Bubba Pollard made the effort, and, absolutely, he made the short-track community proud! There’s room for both Bubbas in Cup!

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