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55th Annual Snowball Derby Race Preview


(Photo Credit: @PNJ on Twitter)





For 55 years, the eyes of the short track racing world desend upon Pensacola, Florida. Known for it's beautiful beaches, rich history dating back as America's oldest settlement, and the home of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. The average person would not know that Pensacola is home to Five Flags Speedway which hosts each year "The Daytona 500 of short-track racing"; The Snowball Derby. 56 drivers attempted to qualify for 30 spots which were claimed on Friday. Saturday's LCQ set the field for the star studed, 300 lap showdown. Not only is $30,000 on the line, a spot in racing immortality awaits for one driver at the end of the race. Below is everything you need to know for the Snowball Derby.


Grand Marshall: NASCAR Hall of Fame driver, Red Farmer


Event History: The first time the Snowball Derby was held was in 1968 as Wayne Nickelson Sr. took the first of what is now the Tom Dawson Trophy. It wasn't until 1975 that the race produced one of the big names that the made the derby famous as Donnie Allison took the victory. Legends like Darrell Waltrip and Gary Balough join him as past legends of the sport, but in current times, drivers like Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Chase Elliott, Noah Gragson, and Ty Majeski have won the event in recent years.


Track Preview: Five Flags Speedway was originally widened into its original configuration in the mid 1970s. Other than a repave of new asphalt on the front stretch, the track has the original pavement from that configuration. This is one of the most abrasive half-mile race tracks in the country and even has seashells from the nearby Gulf of Mexico in the pavement. The 14 degree corners are broad and sweeping which produces a racing line that is almost in an oval shape.


2021 Event: If you have been following any of the daily recaps from the Snowball Derby weekend there would be one name that would be very familiar with you and that would be Derek Thorn. Thorn took pole position for the derby and lead every lap until lap 288 when Chandler Smith made a bump-and-run in Turn Three and took the lead. From there, Smith never looked back as he took the the win in the 54th Annual Snowball Derby.


Weather:

  • Partly Cloudy with highs in the mid 70s.

  • 10% chance of rain



Starting Lineup for the 55th Annual Snowball Derby: (Race starts at 2:00 P.M. CST)


1. Josh Berry - 16.333

2. Derek Thorn - 16.378

3. Conner Jones - 16.388

4. Matt Craig - 16.396

5. Noah Gragson - 16.402 (2018 winner)

6. Carson Kvapil - 16.420

7. Giovanni Ruggiero - 16.429

8. Jacob Gomes - 16.457

9. Austin Nason - 16.458

10. Ryan Luza - 16.458