The 200 lap green flag event featured intense racing action from the front to the back, five different leaders with six lead changes, but Pollard had the fastest car when it counted at the end of the race.
“Man, this car was good tonight,” remarked Pollard in victory lane. “I knew if I could get track position and get out front that it would be tough for them to pass me. It feels good to come in here, a place I’ve never been, against VanDoorn and Campbell and all of these guys right here and get the win. That’s awesome. It makes me feel good.”
Three time ARCA/CRA Super Series Champion Johnny VanDoorn was the Lisa Thomas Salon Fast Qualifier over the 32 cars on hand and got to start on the pole and took full advantage grabbing the lead at the drop of the green flag over Carson Hocevar. VanDoorn kept the lead over several restarts over the first part of the race before a caution at lap 89 brought most of the field to the pits for their first pit stop shuffling up the front runners.
2014 series Champion and Birch Run native Dan Leeck stayed out to get the lead under yellow, and kept that lead at the drop of the green flag, but Pollard was soon in second, he had pitted under an earlier caution. Pollard passed Leeck for the race lead on lap 94 and kept that lead until VanDoorn, on fresher tires, was able to slip by to grab the lead back on lap 110, but another caution came out at lap 115, which again brought most of the field to pit road for service and two more tires.
2017 series Auto City Speedway winner Kyle Hayden did not pit and picked up the lead. Hayden had much older tires than all the other racers behind him, but he was able to hold the lead until Florida racer Steve Dorer, also on older tires, got by to take the lead on lap 130.
Pollard was quickly on the move working his way to the front with a car that looked dominant. Pollard was able to make the pass on Dorer on lap 134, but still had challenges over the last portion of the race including having to fight off VanDoorn on a couple of restarts, but Pollard was up to the challenge and cruised to take the checkered flag and join the list of Masters of the Pro’s winners that includes fellow Georgia natives Chase Elliott and Anderson Bowen as well as John Hunter Nemechek and Cole Williams.
Pollard picked up the $10,000 first place payoff, plus a couple of nice bonuses. Pollard picked up the $1000 JAS Expedited Trucking Winners Bonus in the second event of the JAS Expedited Trucking Michigan Cup mini-series. He also picked up a $500 bonus for the highest finisher who had never raced at Birch Run Speedway prior to the 2018 season. Pollard received the AR Bodies Cool Move of the Race for his pass of Dorer to grab the lead for good on lap 134.
VanDoorn finished in second, picking up the $5,000 second place payoff and the FLUIDYNE Cool Under Pressure Award. VanDoorn’s sponsor Lisa Thomas Salon, also the Fast Qualifier Award sponsor, declined to receive the $200 bonus for fast time, instead added it to the series next event Fast Qualifier Award at Salem Speedway on June 16, making that award worth $300.
2017 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Champion Jack Dossey III had and an interesting night. Dossey III showed speed early working his way from his eighth place starting position to the front, to get caught up in an incident on the track. His crew made quick repairs to the car getting him back in the race, Dossey III then charged to the front over the closing laps of the event to grab a third place finish. Dossey’s crew picked up the PitBoxes.com Pit Crew of the Race Award for their efforts.
West Palm Beach, Florida racer Jeff Choquette overcame an early pit stop and some damage in the same incident Dossey was caught up in, to get a fourth place finish. Choquette picked up a couple of nice bonuses including a $500 bonus for the highest finishing driver who had never raced in the Masters of the Pro’s event and a $500 cash bonus for the driver traveling the furthest to come to race in the event.
Dorer made a late charge through the field after pitting for his last two tires with 30 laps to go to get a fifth place finish. Dorer picked up a Great Lakes Tire/Hoosier Performance Award.
Hayden hung on to get a hard fought sixth place finish. Hayden was one of the last drivers to get in the feature event, transferring from the last chance race. Hayden used pit strategy to get to the front of the field, pitting early in the event before most of the field even made their first stop after being involved in a couple of early yellows. Hayden ran the rest of the race on those tires and ending up with a hard earned sixth place finish after starting in 28th. Hayden picked up a Great Lakes Tire/Hoosier Performance Award and the Racing Electronics Hardcharger Award.
2017 series Rookie of the Year Carson Hocevar finished in seventh with a damaged car. Texas racer Chris Davidson finished in eighth. Birch Run series season opener winner Brian Campbell raced in the front most of the race, but a late pit stop put him in the back of the field and he was able to come back and get his ninth place finish. Leeck rounded out the top ten.
Tyler Hufford picked up his first DGR-CROSLEY Rookie of the Race Award with his 18th place finish. Chris Koslek was the winner of the 15 lap last chance race.
The next event for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance will be the Midwest 100 at Salem Speedway on Saturday, June 16th. More information on the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance is available at www.cra-racing.com.
By: Champion Racing Association Photo By: Dennis Freeman – Birch Run Speedway