Bubba Wins a Super Strange, Super Late Model Race at Mobile by Jason Buckley
Casey Smith Runs Out of Luck, Mitch Cobb Runs Out of Gas
One of the more strange U.S. city mottos comes from Austin, Texas. The “Keep Austin Weird” slogan has been used for the last five years to describe the city's unique cultural identity. For Austin native Casey Smith, he is used to the weirdness that can surround a person, but what happened at Mobile International Speedway (AL) Saturday in the Miller Lite Series Super Late Model Series opener was a bit more weird than even he expected as Smith went from dominating the race to being wrecked by a lapped car under yellow, giving the win to Bubba Pollard.
Casey Smith had the speed and the skill, but not the luck, that he needed for a good result at Mobile. (51 Photos)
“I was talking on the radio and joking around,” explained Smith. “Next thing I knew something is inside the car and I am spun around the other way. Then I saw him sideways on the track. I guess someone put him out there and obviously didn't pay attention to where he was and just ran into me. The whole right side was ripped off my car. It was really disheartening.”
Smith pitted to make repairs to his car and made it back out on the track, but didn't have enough car left to get him back up to the front. That put Georgia racer Bubba Pollard in the lead, who missed the incident. Pollard, who spent the majority of 2007 towards the front of the pack just about everywhere he raced, knew exactly how Smith felt, considering his luck last season.
“That was crazy what happened,” said Pollard. “I don't like to see that happen to anyone. It has happened to me before. I think his car was giving up and we were gaining on him right there at the end. I really wanted to race him.”
Mitch Cobb was quick too - but ran out of fuel late in the race.
The start of the 100-lap feature started off normal for Smith. After pacing two of the three practice sessions earlier in the day, he drove his #99S Super Late Model to the pole position during qualifying, starting the feature from the front row. Through the first half of the race, Smith settled in up front without a challenge for the lead, even after a few cautions for spins by some of the other racers.
“The car was a rocket ship,” said Smith. “We had a good car last year and fought a few issues with the car not staying with us, so tonight it was by far the best car I have ever had. It was a little bit snug, but when I wanted it to turn I could make it happen. When I needed to I could run a fast lap, but most of the time I was just riding. The car stayed with us the whole race.”
Unlike the racing action the night before in the Blizzard Series race at Five Flags Speedway (FL), tires were not as much of a premium at Mobile, even though the teams were able to bolt on two new tires throughout the event. Smith and his team thought about pitting, but decided the car was better out front in clean air.
The race was then in the hands of Pollard, but Mitch Cobb stalked Pollard and looked to take a final stab at the win on a late restart. That is when the weird nature of the race struck the Colorado native as Cobb sputtered to the green flag.
“The last restart we were out of gas,” said Cobb. “When the green flag flew I hit the gas and nothing happened. I think it was because of all the caution laps we had. I was saving all I could during the cautions, but I guess that just wasn't quite enough. I had to feather it all the way down the straightaway just to make it to the finish.”
Cobb held on for second, but his troubles allowed Pollard to cruise onto victory.
“Last year we had good race cars and was good everywhere we went,” said Pollard.
“We just couldn't show for it with all the things that were happening to us. We are
going to win a few more before the season is out.”
While Pollard celebrated in victory lane, Smith wondered what could have been, or
should have been. That is something he will take with him all the way back to the
place everyone calls “weird.”
“Bubba is a great driver,” said Smith. “He won it and that's the biggest thing. It
doesn't matter how many laps you lead or how fast of a car you have. Today we're
inus $4,000.00 and he is plus $4,000.00.”
Miller Lite Series 100-Lap Super Late Model Race Results
Mobile International Speedway (AL)
1) #26 Bubba Pollard
2) #94 Mitch Cobb
3) #82W Donnie Wilson
4) #82 Grant Enfinger
5) #10C Ryan Crane
6) #70 Jeff Choquette
7) #6 Hunter Robbins
8) #41 Chris Davidson
9) #54 Todd McLemore
10) #99L Dale Little
11) #131 Jeff Letson
12) #99S Casey Smith
13) #07 Jeff Scofield
14) #14 Adam Crawford
15) #44 Michael Pope
16) #43 Dennis Schoenfeld
17) #02 Matt Smith
18) #3 Chris Serio
19) #49L Joey Logano
20) #11 Donald Long
21) #10 Danny Bagwell
22) #2 John Bolen
23) #96D Greg Davidson
24) #42 Kevin Rehwinkel
25) #27 Jason Young
26) #49 Stanley Smith
27) #96 Steven Davis
28) #1M Tim Martin
“The question in the back of everyone's mind was is the right rear tire going to hold up,” explained Smith. “This track has got so much grip so I was just easing in the gas. I was saving my tires the whole race. We weren't planning to pit from the get go. People were coming in and I wasn't worried about it at all. I was running as fast at the end as I was at the start.”
The complexion of the race changed on lap 71. A caution was thrown for a wreck on the backstretch involving Danny Bagwell, who went off the track on the backstretch. While Smith and the field rode around under the yellow, Bagwell made his way back onto the track surface, making hard contact with Smith's car, tearing the right side off.
Bubba Pollard ended the race in victory lane.