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How Bubba Pollard Landed A NASCAR Xfinity Ride With JR Motorsports

How Bubba Pollard Landed A NASCAR Xfinity Ride With JR Motorsports

Super Late Model star Bubba Pollard will make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut for JR Motorsports at Richmond Raceway. Here's the story of how it came to be.

Mar 26, 2024 by Brandon Paul
How Bubba Pollard Landed A NASCAR Xfinity Ride With JR Motorsports

It was a December day in Senoia, Georgia when Bubba Pollard received one of the most important phone calls of his life.

Pollard had returned home to Peach State following the completion of the prestigious Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway. Another racing season was over and he was preparing to celebrate Christmas with his family – his wife, Erin, and his three daughters, Mac, Merritt and Milla. 

For at least a few days during the holiday season, racing was an afterthought. Well... maybe.  

His phone rang. He picked it up and heard the voice of a friend from Rheem Manufacturing on the other line. The news was delivered that Rheem wanted to put Pollard in a NASCAR Xfinity Series car and they had the perfect opportunity for him with JR Motorsports, the organization owned by NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rick Hendrick, and Kelley Earnhardt Miller.

“The guys at Rheem called me and told me what they wanted to do and what they had planned,” Pollard explained. “They had gotten it okayed with Junior. Junior was excited about  it and was all for it. Getting the call from them unexpectedly, it really just happened out of the blue. It’s pretty neat the way it happened with it being unexpected.”

When the news was officially announced by JR Motorsports that Pollard would be making his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Richmond Raceway on March 30, Pollard’s phone started ringing again.

Phone calls, text messages and messages on social media flooded his cell phone on what normally would’ve been a quiet Thursday morning for the 37-year-old grassroots racer who operates a family construction company. 

“The response has been overwhelming,” Pollard said. “Been getting calls, texts, messages and all of that stuff. It’s been neat. It makes you feel good. The response I’ve gotten from this whole ordeal. It does put pressure on you to go out and perform.”

For Pollard, the winner of over 100 Late Model races in his career, the opportunity to race on one of NASCAR’s biggest stages was long overdue. While Pollard never operated under the belief that he was owed this type of opportunity, it is the type of shot he’s worked for his entire life. 

“Not only me but my family. They put a lot of time and effort into it, along with everyone that’s helped me along the way to get to this point,” he said. “I didn’t do it alone. There’s been a lot of people that got me to where I am today to get me this opportunity.”


VIDEO: In 2022, Bubba Pollard showed us around his race shop in Senoia, Georgia. 

Making the opportunity even more special is the fact that he gets to do it with a team and a sponsor he’s had relationships with in the past. Pollard previously piloted a JR Motorsports Late Model Stock Car during the 2019 ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway. He also has a relationship with Xfinity racer Brandon Jones and his father JR Jones, the President and CEO of Rheem, dating back to Brandon’s short track racing days. 

“It’s pretty neat to be able to do it with everyone at JR Motorsports and Rheem,” Pollard said. "I’ve known those guys for quite some time. Brandon and his dad are just awesome people. It’s pretty neat how things come full circle. They were involved in short track racing for quite some time when Brandon was getting his start.”

Before Pollard gets to the track for the race on March 30, he’s hoping to have done everything he can to prepare for his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut. While Pollard has won nearly everything there is to win in the Super Late Model ranks, he’s a rookie when it comes to heavier stock cars like those used in the Xfinity Series. 

“We want to run good and I feel like we’re capable of it,” he said. “The odds are definitely against us with me being kind of new to the whole heavy car experience. I just don’t have the seat time with the car, nor do I have any track time at Richmond and we get very limited track time when it comes to the day of the event. 

“We’re just trying to do the best we can to prepare and collect as much data and information as we can get and then apply it to race day. I had a lot of people reach out to give me advice on what I need to do and kind of what to expect."

To help prepare for his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut, Pollard recently made his first ARCA start since an ARCA Menards Series race at Toledo Speedway in 2015. Pollard drove a James Finch-owned Phoenix Construction car to a third-place finish in Saturday's ARCA Menards Series East event at Five Flags Speedway.

"Hopefully we can take a lot of what we did tonight and it apply it to next week," Pollard said after the race. "That was the biggest thing was just getting some experience and getting some seat time because it's so much different than that I'm used to. 

"We got some communication down tonight, hopefully. I learned a lot about the race car and the braking that I can take over into next weeks. Even just restarts and things like that, shifting is quite a bit different. Hopefully we can take all that into next week and see what we can do."

When Pollard does arrive at Richmond Raceway, there’s one important piece of advice that he’ll need to remember. It’s a piece of advice that was given to him by multiple friends in the days following the biggest announcement of his racing career. 

“Most of all, everyone is saying just go out, have fun and drive a race car. Don’t overthink it, just do what you’ve been doing all these years.”