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Josh Berry, Ryan Preece praise Bubba Pollard after NASCAR debut

The Super Late Model ace finished sixth at Richmond

Fellow short track graduates and devotees Ryan Preece and Josh Berry agree that Super Late Model ace Bubba Pollard represented himself well in his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut on Saturday at Richmond Raceway.

Pollard, who drove the JR Motorsports No. 88 to a sixth-place finish, had never made a national touring appearance until last weekend at 37-years-old. He posted the fastest time in practice but was forced to start at the rear of the field due to overshooting Turn 1 in time trials.

Ultimately, he methodically worked his way through the field and benefitted from pit strategy to offset some tough restarts and pit stops — the latter of which was an entirely new experience.

“I thought it was great that he finished sixth,” said Preece, a former Super Late Model and Tour Type Modified teammate. “I haven’t actually talked to him yet to get his thoughts but I did text him afterwards but it is way different than everything he’s done before.

“There are some things he is used to doing, that you can’t do in those cars, manhandling the cars for example. I thought he did great for his first time.

“All the expectation and the pressure that I’m sure he was putting on himself and to go out and they did a good job and he kept the fenders on it. A lot of people go out there in their first race and they rip the nose off the thing. That’s experience. That’s a racer and I’m happy for him.”

Berry, who teamed with Pollard in a JRM Late Model Stock at Martinsville in 2019, said he went into the stands to watch the race and came away proud and impressed.

“I was happy to see him get a good result,” Berry said. “I know how hard it is being in one of those one-off situations and what goes on, and the information you’re taking in, and trying to learn as much as you can and then you throw in pit road and the restarts — that’s where he would say he didn’t have a great day.

“He probably looked at restarts and thought he could do things different to get a better result if he could do it over again. It looked like he was one of the better cars by th end of the race and I was surprised to see it.”

Berry was also surprised that Pollard even agreed to make the start.

It’s not that Berry didn’t believe Pollard was capable. To the contrary. But he didn’t know if Pollard would be willing to potentially expose himself to a more mainstream audience in something so foreign and what that would mean to his legacy as one of the all-time short track greats.

“I’m not too sure, with his career and legacy, maybe he goes and runs that race and if it goes bad, and its a possibility because he has no experience and no practice, all that to go along with it, do people look at him any differently,” Berry said. “What’s the risk versus reward there?

“So I was impressed that he went out and did it and got a good result too.”

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

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