50th Annual Snowball Derby Weekend Review

Article/Photo By: Brad Newman

(Pensacola, FL) As most of you know, this was my first time in attendance at the Snowball Derby at Five Flags. To say that I had high hopes for the weekend would be an understatement. So many of my friends had been that I really felt left out so I booked my hotel and made sure I was going to the event this year. The festivities pre and post-race are absolutely incredible. The food is great, the people are as nice as can be, the racing is excellent and it really is a race fans dream. I told my friend that it’s kind of like a party, a concert, a fair and a race all mixed into a five day weekend of nonstop fun. I will undoubtedly be making my return to this event in 2018.

I arrived Thursday night just in time for Snowball qualifying the next day. Throughout the weekend it really did look like it could be Bubba Pollard’s race to lose. He was wicked fast in all the practices, but as were a few of his competitors, like Monster Energy Cup Series Champion, Kyle Busch. There were a little over sixty entries and most of them were separated by a few tenths in all of the practices, which is unheard of. The Snowball was more of a crapshoot, Bubba looked very fast but Choquette, Grill, and Anderson all were very fast in their respected practices.

Once Snowball qualifying rolled around the atmosphere changed, it’s like everyone was on pins and needles with each car taking its time. Peltier sat down a crazy fast lap early on in qualifying and to many peoples surprise, it stuck. Bubba Pollard would roll of second and Augie Grill third. Many big names didn’t make the show on time like Derek Kraus and Rich Bickle for starters. The Modified race would end Friday night’s festivities, Augie Grill passed the leaders and set sail afterward winning this event.

Saturday was really the first day things began taking off in terms of real racing. Snowflake qualifying was in the early afternoon and Bubba Pollard to no surprise parked his #26 machine on the pole. The drivers that transferred from the Last Chance race were Carson Hocevar, Scott Tomasik, Joe Graf and Elliott Massey. Also, the drivers that transferred from the Snowball Last Chance were Derek Kraus, Tyler Dippel, David Rogers and Jerry Artuso. With the conclusion of these Last Chance races the Snowflake and Snowball fields were set. The Snowflake field rolled off later that night, and the Snowball the day after.

Pollard and Choquette led the field to the green in the Snowflake. These two exchanged the lead on multiple occasions restart after restart, but Pollard held off Choquette almost every time. A huge pile up on a restart took out over ten cars early on in this event, names like Cole Anderson, Augie Grill, and others received significant damage. Bubba Pollard did, in fact, hold off the field to win the Snowflake portion of the Snowball derby followed by a hard-charging Spencer Davis and Anthony Cataldi.

The Pro Truck race was set to roll off next, one of the more exciting events of the weekend. The field was led to the green flag by Jarrett Parker and Steven Davis. Early contact between Cody Haskins and the leaders resulted in a lot of tore up Trucks and a new face in the lead, DJ Vanderlay. Bubba Gale was on the hunt to the front before he was involuntarily spun in a three-wide situation going into turn three for the lead. DJ would hold off the field after multiple attempts of a Green-White-Checkered. With the conclusion of this race, the racing for Saturday would be over, but the party had just started in Pensacola. Post-race festivities are one of the highlights of the Snowball weekend and Saturday’s is nothing short of incredible.

The Snowball Derby field was ready to get rolling Sunday morning. The pre-race activities include giveaways, meet and greets at the fan fest tent, driver introductions and more. Once the field was introduced Peltier and Pollard led the field to the green, Pollard jumped out to an early lead. Laps passed by extremely fast and we received our first caution around halfway, Peltier would end up passing Pollard on the outside to lead a handful of laps. Another caution would be brought out around lap 80 which drew the leaders to pit road….except for Ty Majeski.

Ty would lead the field for a while as a huge pile up out of two collected a lot of very fast race cars including your pole sitter Peltier and Stephen Nasse. Majeski would lead until he was passed by Kyle Busch, who had newer tires. Unfortunately for Ty this run would be well over one-hundred laps and he lost not one, but two laps during this cycle. Another caution came out later in the race and the leaders once again came to pit road, this time it was for good. Choquette, Pollard, and Busch would all take tires and race it out for the win the remainder of the race. Choquette passed Pollard early and led until about thirty to go and here comes Kyle Busch would have managed his equipment throughout this final run. Busch passed Pollard and Choquette with ease and straightaway-ed his competition in under twenty laps to win his second career, Snowball Derby. Choquette would finish second, and a dissatisfied Pollard, the fan favorite to win this event would round out your top three.

Snowflake 100 Results:

1             26P        Bubba Pollard

2             5D          Spencer Davis

3             00A       Anthony Cataldi

4             9JC        Jeff Choquette

5             112G     Augie Grill

6             43S        Justin South

7             51SN     Stephen Nasse

8             78          Corey Heim

9             95G       Derrick Griffin

10          18R        Casey Roderick

11          14H       Carson Hocevar

12          99N       JR Niedecken

13          46W      Cole Williams

14          22D       Steven Davis

15          12L        Dan Leeck

16          26CS     Chandler Smith

17          51K        Zachary Knowles

18          51F        Eddie Fatscher

19          00C        Brandon Curren

20          55BO    Brandon Oakley

21          16T        Scotty Tomasik

22          24D       Mason Diaz

23          14O       Connor Okrzesik

24          21P        Ryan Paul

25          2A          Austin Wood

26          24          Christopher Tullis

27          97A       Cole Anderson

28          30K        Bobby Knox Jr

29          15J         Jake Johnson

30          R7          Ryan Worsham

31          21J         Brandon Johnson

32          04          Corey Roper

33          51P        Perry Patino

34          11M      Jordan McCallum

35          12G       Joe Graf

36          4M        Elliott Massey

Snowball Derby Results:

  1. 51 Kyle Busch
  2. 9C Jeff Choquette
  3. 26 Bubba Pollard
  4. 12 Harrison Burton
  5. 13 Cassius Clark
  6. 18 Casey Roderick
  7. 26S Chandler Smith
  8. 81 Chase Purdy
  9. 99 Raphael Lessard
  10. 20 Brandon McReynolds
  11. 32D Tyler Dippel
  12. 18G Noah Gragson
  13. 75 Jeremy Doss
  14. 53J Boris Jurkovic
  15. 53B Cole Butcher
  16. 00 Anthony Cataldi
  17. 91 Ty Majeski
  18. 4 Kyle Plott
  19. 15 Christian Eckes
  20. 36 Dan Fredrickson
  21. 19 Kason Plott
  22. 5 Jerry Artuso
  23. 55 Spencer Davis
  24. 07 Corey LaJoie
  25. 46 Cole Rouse
  26. 11R David Rogers
  27. 14 Chris Davidson
  28. 01 Jake Crum
  29. 112 Augie Grill
  30. 14C Connor Okrzesik
  31. 5M Mason Mingus
  32. 48 Preston Peltier
  33. 9K Derek Kraus
  34. 2W Donnie Wilson
  35. 11B Logan Boyett
  36. 51N Stephen Nasse
  37. 88 Garrett Jones

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