JEFFERSON - For Bubba Pollard, the win in Saturday night's Larry Fleeman Memorial did not come easy.
The Senoia, GA speedster led 89 of the 100 laps around Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, GA, but spent most of them working to hold off the charge of 16-year-old John Hunter Nemechek, who looked to the inside time after time in a bid to get by Pollard.
But old age and treachery won out over youth and exuberance, as Pollard scored the win, joining fellow Georgians Spencer Davis and Chase Elliott as winners of the Pro Late Model event.
"We had a good race car," Pollard said in victory lane. "I can't thank John Hunter enough to race me clean like that. You don't find many guys like that. That's why he's really good. I've got a lot of respect for the kid."
Pollard started the night on the pole after turning in a lap at 16.732, 107.578 mph in qualifying. Nemechek started on the outside pole.
Pollard brought the 23 car field down to green, only to see Nemechek charge to the outside to move around Pollard's machine to lead the first lap, while Acworth, GA's T.J. Reaid settled into third. The first caution of the night flew on lap three when Matthew Wragg spun in turn two, while J.R. Bolen spun to avoid him. Both were able to drive away.
On the restart, Nemechek would regain the lead, but Pollard was riding close in his tire tracks. Lap after lap, Pollard worked over Nemechek, looking for an opportunity.
Pollard made his own opportunity on lap 11, as he put a power move on Nemechek to take the top spot. Nemechek would hold onto the lead, while Suwanee, GA's Anderson Bowen moved to third.
Caution flew again on lap 18, when Kyle McCallum spun off turn four. He was able to continue. Caution would fly again on lap 45, when Darin Cronin spun off turn four. He was able to continue.
In the meantime, Pollard would continue to lead. Nemechek would lose second to Reaid on lap 46, but would drive back around Reaid to retake the position one lap later.
One of two scary incidents on the night occurred on lap 46, when something broke on Colt James car as he drove into turn three, sending him head-on into the outside wall. James' car hit hard enough to send it airborne briefly. Fortunately, he walked away from the car under his own power, uninjured. The race was red flagged to allow crews to clean up the scene.
Back under green, Pollard would reassume the top spot while Nemechek and Bowen fought for second. Nemechek would come away with the position, and began working to reel in the leader.
Another scary incident occurred on lap 88, when something appeared to break on Dalton Grindle's car as the Flowery Branch, GA driver raced off turn two. Grindle's car made hard contact with the outside wall, resulting in a flash fire as the car came to rest on the inside of the backstretch. Grindle was uninjured.
That set up a 12 lap dash to the checkered flag. On the restart, Pollard again powered to the lead, with Nemechek in second and Reaid in third.
Nemechek hounded Pollard as the laps wound down, looking for daylight around the leader. But Pollard held him at bay, flexing his muscles just enough to stay ahead of the challenges. When the checkered flag flew, it was Pollard scoring the victory.
"This race track is tough to pass on, so you want to be out front," Pollard said. "Clean air is really important here."
Nemechek came home in second, with Reaid in third, Hunter Robbins in fourth and Bowen in fifth.
Harrison Burton, Russell Fleeman, Baylee Currey, Kyle Plott and Riley Thornton rounded out the top 10.
In other action, Matt Vassar jumped out to the early lead of the 30 lap Truck division feature, and went on to score the win largely uncontested. Kristen Wallace finished in second, with Rodney Benefield in third, Ronnie Wehunt in fourth and Kevin Vassar in fifth. However, a post race protest means the finish of the feature will be unofficial until later in the week.
Matthew Wragg took the early lead in the Outlaw Late Model feature, but Jason Bates muscled his way to the front, and would hold off Wragg to score the win. Russell Shore finished in third, with Lee Langford in fourth and David Murphy in fifth.
All results are unofficial until certified by race officials.
Gresham Motorsports Park returns to action on Sunday, May 11, as the Jefferson speed plant will host the StreetWise Drift Pro/Am.
Gresham Motorsports Park - Jefferson, GA
Larry Fleeman Memorial 100 - May 3, 2014
1. Bubba Pollard
2. John Hunter Nemechek
3. T.J. Reaid
4. Hunter Robbins
5. Anderson Bowen
6. Harrison Burton
7. Russell Fleeman
8. Baylee Currey
9. Kyle Plott
10. Riley Thornton
11. Davey Coble
12. Fredrick Moore
13. Dwayne Buggay
14. Josh Adkins
15. Matthew Wragg
16. Mark Gibson
17. J.R. Bolen
18. Dalton Grindle
19. Darin Cronin
20. Kyle McCallum
21. Cole James
22. R.S. Senter
23. Emilee Riley
1. Matt Vassar
2. Kristen Wallace
3. Rodney Benefield
4. Ronnie Wehunt
5. Kevin Vassar
6. Jami Weimer
7. Ty Robertson
8. Matt Wortman
Outlaw Late Models
1. Jason Bates
2. Matthew Wragg
3. Russell Shore
4. Lee Langford
5. David Murphy
6. Brian Hardman