Snowball Notebook: No Big Issues in Tech; Grill Arrives Late
Lengthy Technical Inspection, but No Major Issues for Contenders
Close to 120 Super Late Models and Pro Late Models went through technical inspection for the 48thAnnual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway on Wednesday afternoon.
Some, like defending winner John Hunter Nemechek, had to go through more than once while others missed the five o’clock cutoff, but most of the favorites had no major issues.
“It actually went pretty smooth, just minor nitpick stuff,” Nemechek told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “There wasn’t too much that we had to change. We brought a new car here so it’s new stuff.”
Bubba Pollard, a pre-race favorite heading into the weekend, is still searching for his first Snowball Derby victory, and was positive with the entire experience as well.
“Ricky’s done a great job at getting all the cars equal and everybody knows what he expects,” Pollard applauded. “When everybody is prepared it makes things a lot easier.”
Indifferent Opinions Despite Varied Qualifying Draw Results
Pollard and Nemechek were at different sections of the order for Friday’s pole qualifying that will set the top 30 starting positions for Sunday’s race.
Nemechek pulled in the IP Casino Qualifying Draw Wednesday evening around where fast qualifier Hunter Robbins did one year ago (26th of 63 cars). He knows what is still required of him to get the job done come Friday night during NASH 102.7 FM Pole Night.
“You just have to buckle down and do what you need to do,” said the defending Snowball Derby winner. “The pole here has come from the top-five once and come from the back other times. I don’t really think it matters when you go out.”
Pollard, who drew to qualify among the first 10 cars, echoed Nemechek’s thoughts.
“Going early is not a bad thing; it depends on whether dew or other things go along with it. As long as you’ve got a good racecar you’ll qualify up front.”
Augie Grill Again a Late Arrival, But Ready to Go
A year ago, Augie Grill was not even present at the CAT Country/WEAR-TV Green Flag Party. In 2015, the two-time recipient of the Tom Dawson Trophy made an appearance with his hauler around 4:30 p.m. CT near the conclusion of technical inspection.
“We’re a little ahead of schedule this year,” Grill actually admitted. “Been really busy the last couple weeks so we don’t try to get in any kind of hurry finishing our own stuff. I made sure my two cars were ready to go. Yesterday it rained at the house all day long, so we didn’t load up. We loaded this morning, took our time, and got here.”
Grill drew late in the order, but like Nemechek and Pollard is aware that it does not exactly come down to where you line up in the order.
“I was telling somebody earlier that I’ve been the first car out once and the second car out twice for the Snowball, and all three times we’ve been pretty good. If you’ve got a good car it doesn’t matter when you go out.”
Luza Hopes Third Motor is the Charm
The Five Flags Speedway Pro Late Model champion, “Flyin” Ryan Luza, has not been able to celebrate that accomplishment a whole lot while preparing for the Snowflake 100. Despite some recent obstacles, the Texas driver made it through tech and was loaded up by mid-afternoon.
“We’ve changed three motors in the past week so I’m anxious for tomorrow,” Luza noted. “It didn’t come in until about nine o’clock last night. I went to the Beef O’ Brady’s party and they were getting it into the shop so it was a late night. We got home about 2 or 2:30, got a few hours of sleep, and came back.”
The engine comes from one of the top teams in Late Model racing and has the 16th place finisher in last year’s Snowflake excited for a top run this week.
“I’m really optimistic about it,” Luza said. “We got the motor from Jeff Burton, so that’s a good sign for me and it might be even better than our motor.”
Preston Peltier Set On Success
The trailer may be squished between two big haulers, but Preston Peltier has assembled an effort from across the country to accomplish Derby success.
“We have left nothing on the table,” Peltier said. “I feel like if I’m ever going to win this race it’s going to be this year. We came and tested a couple of races throughout the summer and September and really got a good package.”
Combined with Colorado team owner Ed Vecchiarelli, crew chief Duane Sharp who guided Southwest champion Jim Pettit II to many victories, a Hamke Race Car and a Progressive motor, Peltier is pumped up to get on track and shoot for the victory.
“The little trailer doesn’t mean anything. I’ve got everything that I need in there, just the same as all these other guys and I maybe have more. This is going to be our best effort right here.”
Peltier drew very late in the order and will go out to qualify most likely once the sun goes down on Friday.
Justin South Pairs with Different Team, Tribute Name on Pro Late Model
Justin South has qualified well and come close to winning in past Snowflake runnings, but is partially working with a different group in 2015.
“I’m driving for Larry Blount this year in the 21 car and I’m really happy with the effort that Dustin Skinner and Larry and my guys have put forward,” South said. “I’m really excited because it’s nice to sometimes get some different stuff, try different things, and work with different brains. I think if we ease through the week and not dial ourselves out we’ll get there at the end.”
There is also an interesting name on the roof, which serves as a tribute to a close family member.
“My grandfather passed away a couple weeks ago and he drag raced professionally in the 70s,” South continued. “His cars were named Corrupter and Corrupter II, so we’re Corrupter III. Just a little tribute to my grandfather.”
Thursday’s Coverage on Speed51.com
Tomorrow’s coverage of Snowball Derby Practice Day on Speed51.com powered by JEGS kicks off at 9 a.m. CT. Two hours of pre-recorded Snowball Derby & Snowflake 100 practice will be broadcast live on Speed51 TV beginning at 6 p.m. CT. That will lead into a live broadcast of feature races for the Bomber & Sportsman divisions.
Purchase your Speed51 TV live online video ticket by clicking here.
The Speed51 Network will also have exclusive interviews and other videos posted throughout the day.
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Qualifying Order – 48th Annual Snowball Derby
|9||7||John DeAngelis, Jr.|
|26||8||John Hunter Nemechek|
|35||7||Paul Shafer, Jr.|
Snowflake 100 Qualifying Order
|25||8||John Hunter Nemechek|
|26||01||Derek Scott, Jr.|
|56||30||Bobby Knox, Jr.|
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Central NY & PA Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com