Hunger is what fuels the Super Late Model drivers and crews in every Blizzard Series’ event at Pensacola, Florida’s Five Flags Speedway. Each short track warrior that straps into his or her machine in the five-race series has the hunger that drives them to success – one that not even Papa John’s pizza can cure. But, for drivers like Ryan Lawler and Bubba Pollard, a combination of victory and some tasty pizza in victory lane is the only thing that can cure their hunger in the May 22nd Papa John’s 100 Blizzard Series’ race at Five Flags.
Lawler, driving the #51 Toyota owned by NASCAR superstar Kyle Busch, and the former Five Flags winner and Senoia, Georgia, native Pollard will both be out to satisfy their hungers by defeating a stout field of Super Late Model compeititors in the second round of the five-race Blizzard Series.
“We’re going down there this time, and we’re going to do a little bit of testing before the race to hopefully be a little bit better than we were the last time at Pensacola,” said Lawler. “This is our second race together with Kyle Busch Motorsports. All in all, for our first time down there, I think we did pretty well considering the amount of practice time that we had before the first race. We’ll learn some stuff in our test and that will probably help us do just a little bit better in this next race.”
Lawler qualified fifth and finished fourth in his first start with KBM at Five Flags in the AMP Energy 100 on April 10th, while Bubba Pollard, in the Pollard Motorsports #26 Ford, finished two spots higher, coming in the runner-up position to Blizzard Series round-one winner Johanna Long.
“It has been great the way the season has started off,” said Pollard. “We have run good everywhere we have gone, so we have a lot of momentum going into the next Blizzard series’ race.
“We’re looking forward to going back. I felt that we had a car that was capable of winning the last time we were there. I feel like we are going to have a good car again.”
While both Lawler and Pollard are vying for the coveted Sunoco Gulf Coast Championship, a title to be decided amongst racers in the Super Late Model events at Five Flags and nearby Mobile International Speedway in Alabama, each driver is taking a different approach to the Blizzard Series’ events like the Papa John’s 100 on May 22nd.
“I think Kyle (Busch) and I have the same mentality – we’re going for wins,” said Lawler. “We’d like to win the championship, and we definitely have to race smart, but we race to win, too. What we’re doing, too, is prepping for the Snowball Derby (December 6th at Five Flags). We want to get our stuff right for that race to hopefully get a top-five or even a one-two finish with Kyle and I in the Snowball Derby.”
“Running for points is not what we are used to,” said Pollard. “We really have decided that that’s what we are going to do with this Gulf Coast Championship Series. We are looking to go out and race each weekend and do the best we can. I am sure, as we get later in the season, we will start looking more at the points and maybe be a bit more cautious and change our strategy.”
While strategies may differ, Lawler and Pollard agree that the Blizzard Series’ events at Five Flags Speedway are where some of the toughest short track races can be found.
“They’re really tough,” said Lawler. “The competition’s really good down there, because a lot of those guys have been running at that track for years and years. That’s their backyard. It’s like going to run a weekly show at Hickory or South Boston, where all the guys know that track, and that makes all the local guys the toughest ones to beat.”
“You look at the list of drivers and 15 guys could wind up in victory lane at the end of the night,” added Pollard. “That’s why people come to race the Blizzard Series at Five Flags, because the competition is so tough. Johanna (Long) will be tough all year. She’s got a ton of laps around the track, and she’s got really good equipment. Ryan Lawler, Augie Grill… those guys are going to be tough, too.”
Qualifying for the Papa John’s 100 will begin at 6:45pm, with the feature events set to take the green flag at 8pm. The Modifieds, Sportsmen, and Bomber divisions will also hit the Five Flags half-mile.
Fans unable to attend the Five Flags Blizzard Series’ event can hear it live on RaceTalkRadio, presented by Speed 51 Radio in a tape-delayed broadcast. The five Blizzard Series’ and five Miller Lite Series’ events at Mobile International Speedway will make up the Sunoco Gulf Coast Championship series, where drivers competing at both tracks are eligible for bonuses at season’s end.
For more information about Five Flags Speedway, the Papa John’s 100 or the 42nd Annual Snowball Derby, please visit www.5flagsspeedway.com or contact the track by calling (850) 944-8400.