Thursday, March 21, 2019

Pollard, Okrzesik, and Chance Comment on the Chaos from the Late Stages of Baby Rattler 125

Bubba Pollard looked to be the man to beat late in the Baby Rattler 125 at South Alabama Speedway on March 16, 2019 until a series of events with Connor Okrzesik resulted in a premature end to Pollard's night. (Daniel Vining/PixelatedSPEED)
By: Daniel Vining, Twitter: @danielvining OPP, Alabama (March 21, 2019) — The prelude event to the Ratter 250 at South Alabama Speedway is known as the Baby Rattler, and features a mix of up and coming talent pitted against cagey veterans. One of the premiere Pro Late Model shows of the year, the 14th Running of the Grasshopper Baby Rattler 125 saw up and comer Connor Okrzesik go toe to toe with a veteran driver who many have deemed the best in late model racing, Bubba Pollard. Connor Okrzesik started on the pole for the event, but drifted back early, giving way to Patrick Latullipe, Justin South, and Jack Dossey III for the opening salvos of the race. Okrzesik would remain solidly in the top five, even leading for a bit after lap 50. Bubba Pollard qualified third, but had to start from the rear due to a shock change after qualifying. It took Pollard to lap 53 to reach the top five, then to lap 79 to get the lead. “We started from the back and come to the front and didn’t touch a race car,” said Pollard. Okrzesik worked his way to Pollard’s rear on lap 90, and the pair battled hard for the next ten laps. On lap 102, following a caution, Okresik seemed to get a great restart… perhaps too good of a restart. Word quickly came down over the radio from the control tower that the 14 car of Okrzesik had to give the spot back to Pollard. He was also given a warning for jumping the restart. “The first time, I jumped the restart. That’s completely my fault,” Okrezsik admitted to On lap 115, following another caution, it looked as though Okrzesik again jumped the restart, but Pollard stayed close. Pollard spun in turn four after contact with Okrzesik just as the yellow flew for an unrelated incident elsewhere on the track resulting in the lap not being completed, allowing Pollard to regain the lead for the ensuing restart. Okrzesik was again warned about jumping the restart, and an additional warning was sent to Pollard for laying back. On that next restart, still on lap 115, the lead pair once again made contact on the backstretch going into turn three and in the check up, Brandon Johnson sent Pollard spinning. This time, Pollard went straight into the pits following the spin. Subsequently, Okrzesik was charged with causing the caution and sent to the rear, but instead chose to pull his car down pit road. This incident ended both drivers race, but the drama was far from finished. Okrzesik believes Pollard was baiting him into jumping, taking advantage of the notion that Okrzesik had blatantly jumped earlier. “He slowed down and I was maintaining my pace,” said Okrzesik. “I wasn’t going to give him any leeway at all. It was possibly the last restart of the night, ten laps to go and that’s what it was going to come down to, it was going to come down to whoever got the best jump on the restart was going to win the race because our two cars were dead even.” After climbing out of his race car, Pollard went to lead technical inspector Ricky Brooks, who was stationed in turns three and four during this sequence of events. Pollard, and members of his crew, showed their displeasure with what had transpired in a very verbal way using language that is best not repeated. The next morning, PixelatedSPEED asked Pollard about what happened and he gave his perspective. “No, they should’ve made the call,” said Pollard. “He (Brooks) was down there for a reason in turn three and four. Either he makes a call, or I’d be pissed that the track didn’t listen to what I was saying because he said he told them that they were wrong, so it’s on them at that point.” “The track let him get away with them… Connor, and the way he was driving… uh, when you got a fast race car like that, he’s wanting to win,” continued Pollard. “When we were coming through the field, he was being really aggressive and he didn’t have to be. It was just him being impatient. He’s young, and he’s got to perform.” While Pollard was angry with Ricky Brooks and had the convenience of Brooks being stationed mere feet from his pit, the calls during this exchange were coming from the control tower, and Race Director Kevin Chance. Chance also spoke with PixelatedSPEED to convey what exactly was being observed from race control. “The initial restart (lap 102) he jumped,” said Chance referring to Okrzesik. “I told him to give it back and he did. The second time (first attempt at lap 115 restart) I wouldn’t say that he jumped, but he had his nose out. I think he still allowed Pollard to start.” “We had a caution, and warned him and Bubba because they both got tangled up and were hitting each other.” “On the third one (second attempt at lap 115 restart) it looked as if not only did the Okrzesik have his nose out, but it also looked like Pollard slowed down. We warned them again, but by that time they had tangled again on the backstretch coming into turn three.” In response as to why Okrzesik and Pollard were given so many opportunities to get it right, Chance explained that the procedures given to the teams said that if someone jumped the restart, then he would notify the spotter and they would have to give the spot back. In the end, both drivers ended up out of the race, Pollard finishing 13th and Okrzesik in 14th. Casey Roderick slid by both drivers and went on to win the Baby Rattler 125 rather easily with Kyle McCallum in second, and Jack Dossey III in third. PixelatedSPEED is a motorsports news and views website covering all things racing and has been “Bringing Pixels 2 Pavement Since 2018”. If you've made it this far into the post, thank you. Please consider sharing this content on the interwebs and following PixelatedSPEED on Facebook and Twitter and joining in on the conversation. & 


  1. If all they do is make you give the spot back, why wouldn't you try it. They need to penalize the person who does the infraction, like moving them back a row or two.

  2. Some give a driver one second chance before he is sent to the rear. This policy is more reasonable.


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