Jasper, Alabama Late Model driver John Bolen is a name that race fans have not seen outside of Montgomery Motor Speedway much in the past decade. He has won the title in the Show Me The Money Pro Late Model Series at Montgomery in 2010 and 2018, both times on consistent Top 5 finishes.
His first title came at a time in his career when he was running both Pro and Super Late Model races all over the Southeast, including down the road in Pensacola, Florida at Five Flags Speedway.
In 2021, after just one start at Five Flags in a 10 year span, Bolen and his No. 2 Late Models have been back on a usual basis on the Panhandle in both Super and Pro racing, with the team showing their usual consistency in the Allen Turner Pro Late Models. All while keeping up his usual schedule at Montgomery.
“We’ve had a good year. We made some changes over the winter; you get to a point where you want to shake things up when you’ve been racing Late Models for a long time. I think we’ve accomplished what we’ve wanted to so far, you always want to run better. But overall, I think it’s been a success to what our goals have been,” Bolen told Speed51.
On one particular December weekend 12 years ago, Bolen was in the running for both the Snowflake 100 and the Snowball Derby. He and the No. 2 camp are looking to get back to that point, which has been a main purpose of competing on the full Five Flags calendar in 2021.
"Pensacola, we’ve had some good runs down there over the years. We’ve raced there this year more than we have in many years and we’re finally getting a grasp back on it. We ran the Derby a few times and finished Top 5 in 2009. We’ve run the Snowflake and run second in it in 2009 too. But, we haven’t raced steady down there since 2010, just a race or two there. It’s hard to compete with the guys that race down there all year if you don’t do so yourself."
While the Super Late Model effort has not yielded front runner runs so far in 2021, the Pro Late Model side is right back to where Bolen found himself just over a decade ago at Five Flags.
“Our goal has been to run all the races and be in the hunt for the title. It gives you a lot of confidence going into the Snowflake knowing that if you’ve run in the Top 5 in points all year, you got a car that’s pretty solid on the speed, and gives you something to lean on if something goes bad in Snowflake qualifying. There’s a lot of pluses in being up there in points.”
The Allen Turner Pro Late Model Series is back in action at Five Flags Speedway with Race #3 of 2021 this Friday night, the first since May 21. Bolen feels that the potential to finally get that first win on the Gulf Coast is there and that should circumstance line up properly, this could be their weekend.
“We’ve been knocking on it and slowly chipping away to where I think we’re a contender. If all the changes we’ve done where everything works right, I think we got a shot at being in contention. We had a very good car in the first race of the year, if we had a caution called a little different we probably could’ve had a shot at that one. We were missing something the last one, but if we can get it back we can be in contention this weekend.”
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-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Correspondent – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51