Bubba Pollard isn't eligible to compete in the NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro on Sunday, but his performance in Wednesday's ASA STARS National Tour event has certainly made him worthy of the 'All-Star' label.
Pollard was able to manage his gap over a hard-charging William Byron in the race's closing laps, as the pair encountered a substantial herd of lapped traffic.
Despite closing the margin significantly in the final couple of laps around the 0.625-mile facility, Byron came up just short, finishing 0.309 seconds behind the Senoia, Georgia-native.
"I owe them boys one, it's called disrespect. 10 laps to go, but they're tired of seeing me up front and winning like it was back in the day," Pollard said. "Just no respect, and the favor may be returned one day and I won't give them the respect back. It's part of racing. You remember it."
Chase Elliott, a teammate to Byron in the NASCAR Cup Series, was also a major player in deciding the outcome of Wednesday's 150-lap contest, taking the lead at the end of the race's second stage.
Though, when the race's final 50-lap stint began, it became clear that Pollard, driving the No. 26 Phoenix Construction-sponsored entry, was the quickest vehicle in North Wilkesboro.
"We took off there, and we were pretty good. I let William by me there to see what he had, so I could see what he had so I knew if we needed to be better and make some adjustments. Then Chase came out of nowhere and was fast. I told them on the radio we don't have anything for them.
"Made the right adjustments on that last break, put four tires on it, and she was good."
William Byron and Chase Elliott, who both compete for Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday's in the NASCAR Cup Series, recorded second and third-place results.
Sammy Smith, making his ASA STARS National Tour debut at North Wilkesboro Speedway, finished in fourth-place, while Daniel Suarez recorded a top-five run for Rackley WAR.
Caden Kvapil, ASA STARS National Tour points leader Casey Roderick, Cole Butcher, Derek Thorn, and Ty Majeski completed the race's top-10 finishers.
Preparing for Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at North Wilkesboro, Carson Hocevar and Grant Enfinger each failed to find success on Wednesday, finishing 18th and 23rd, respectively.
Noah Gragson, who will compete in Sunday's NASCAR All-Star Race, ran into mechanical issues prior to the start of the race's final stage, relegating him to a finish of 30th.
Next, the ASA STARS National Tour will travel to Hickory Motor Speedway in Newton, North Carolina for the Tar Heel 250, the fourth event of a 10-race slate for the series in 2023.
Image Credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America
Results - ASA STARS National Tour at North Wilkesboro:
|17||51n||Stephen Nasse||149||1 lap||19.484|
|18||14h||Carson Hocevar||149||1 lap||19.777|
|19||51f||Jake Finch||149||1 lap||19.783|
|20||98||Blaine Rocha||149||1 lap||19.763|
|21||9h||Hudson Halder||149||1 lap||19.578|
|22||33f||Albert Francis||149||1 lap||19.503|
|23||32||Grant Enfinger||148||2 laps||19.750|
|24||2j||John Bolen||148||2 laps||19.660|
|25||12G||Derek Griffith||148||2 laps||19.678|
|26||20s||Anthony Sergi||148||2 laps||19.757|
|27||23||Billy VanMeter||148||2 laps||19.936|
|28||7c||Justin Crider||148||2 laps||20.029|
|29||22r||Gio Ruggiero||147||3 laps||19.510|
|30||30||Noah Gragson||97||53 laps||19.667|
|31||44j||Conner Jones||95||55 laps||19.689|
|32||9k||Derek Kraus||95||55 laps||20.096|