Race Weekend Central

Bubba Pollard Discusses JRM Deal, Xfinity Debut & Adapting from Late Models

On Saturday (March 30) at Richmond Raceway, everything seemed to be coming up Bubba Pollard at first … at least in the lone NASCAR Xfinity Series practice early that morning.

Pollard topped the charts then and subsequently, immediately qualified dead last of those that made an attempt at a lap. He started next to last, but methodically clicked off laps (and passes) en route to finishing sixth.

The 37-year-old late model veteran’s Xfinity debut came with JR Motorsports in the team’s No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro, and Pollard finished better than the team’s four full-time drivers.

Pollard said after the race he was looking to get back again in the Xfinity car soon, with Iowa Speedway being one possibility.

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

Frontstretch caught up with Pollard in the No. 9 JR Motorsports hauler prior to the race that Saturday. He talked about how the deal to drive for Dale Earnhardt Jr. came together, his outlook for the race and how he’d adapted to the cars of NASCAR’s secondary series. You can watch or read the full interview below.

Adam Cheek, Frontstretch: You’re about to make your Xfinity Series debut. What are the thoughts going through your head right now?

Bubba Pollard: Just excited. Hopefully, I don’t make any mistakes like I did in qualifying. For the most part, it’s all been good. We’re really excited, everyone at JR [Motorsports] has given me a great car to go out and showcase and see what we’ve got.

Cheek: You were fastest in practice, and there was some fall-off there in qualifying. What did you learn the most from those first impressions?

Pollard: Yeah, the first laps I had on the track [were] during practice, and really the first time we had all sticker tires on qualifying trim. It was just a bit different than what I anticipated and what I expected. I made some pretty good mistakes there that cost us a lot of time.

At the end of the day, we just gotta go out there and execute for the race. I gotta do my job and do a better job than I did in qualifying, so hopefully we can do that and make it happen.

Cheek: You have so much experience in super late models — wins in the triple digits, so many accolades. Did Richmond, being a short track, help you at all in preparation?

Pollard: It’s hard. I think the cars are going to be different than what I’m accustomed to. Plus, the tire — they warn you about falloff. But man, it really fell off more than what I anticipated in those 30 laps that we ran.

So yeah, I’m gonna really have to be patient and be disciplined to stay on the bottom and do what I need to to have a good run.

Cheek: You’re in the No. 88 for Dale [Earnhardt] Jr. How long have you known Dale before this?

Pollard: So I [ran] some late model stock races with him a couple years ago, and we’ve talked back and forth several times. He’s always checking up on me and keeping me informed on what’s going on, and he’s helped me a lot through the whole process. It’s been fun.

It’s a great organization to have my first start with, I feel like, with Rheem and everything that they do for the sport. So I’m really excited about it. Hopefully, we can just go out here and have a good run.

Cheek: Rheem is such a longtime sponsor in NASCAR. How did this deal come together? What was that process like?

Pollard: Yeah, after we got back from the Snowball Derby, we got a call from J.R. [Jones]. He kind of told us what he had planned, and he had talked to Dale and wanted to put this deal together. And Dale was all excited about it.

I just can’t thank those guys enough — there’s some things that had to work out and fall in place for all this to happen. But for them to give me this opportunity — a once-in-a-lifetime deal — we’re gonna see if we can go out and make the most of it.

Cheek: Was Richmond a track that you wanted to make that start at if it came?

Pollard: Yeah, Richmond was one that that I kind of wanted. But now after coming here, it’s pretty slick, but I think once we get in race trim there, I’ll kind of get comfortable and kind of get in the swing of things.

It’s one of the tougher places. The guys have warned me about it and told me about it, but I had no idea. It gave me a good eye-opener there during practice.

Cheek: What are you expecting from the race today?

Pollard: It’s gonna be slick. I think those good cars up front will definitely be there. We gotta get up through the field pretty quick so we don’t get ourselves in any trouble with laps down or anything, but it’s gonna get slick.

Hopefully, it kind of plays into what I’m used to at Five Flags [Speedway] and things like that, so I just got to be patient. The car is there. I just gotta quit overdriving it and just be patient, and I think we’ll be fine.

Cheek: You kind of got some experience against NASCAR personalities with your SRX race two years ago. Did you learn anything from that?

Pollard: It was a good bit different. It was more, essentially, like CARS [Tour] and super late models, so I kind of gotta get all that pushed aside and focus on today and what the racecar is doing today and see what it can do.

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But yeah, a lot of guys have went out, helped me out and gave me a lot of advice, and [I’m] just try[ing] to put all that into use today and see what we got.

Cheek: Lastly, your super late model experience. Are you drawing on anything from that for this?

Pollard: Well, it’s tough. It’s just so different, everything’s different. Those longer runs [will] hopefully play in my favor, but that’s really about the only thing — throttle management, hitting your marks [and] being consistent — hopefully, those things I’ve been good at in the late model.

But with the car being so different, you just kind of got to attack it in a different way. So hopefully we can do that.

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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