Hamrac Completes Mods Derby Trifecta; Mader Refuses to be Denied Super Stocks Derby Crown
By Chuck Corder
Before this week — heck, this season — the Semmes, Ala., driver set a goal of pulling off the unthinkable by winning a third consecutive Home Depot Modifieds Snowball Derby championship.
Rare is one lucky enough to scale short-track racing’s highest mountain twice, a feat Hamrac accomplished by successfully defending his 2013 title with a winning run last December.
But a three-peat? The mere mention of it seemed implausible.
Hamrac silenced the doubters, though, on Friday at Five Flags Speedway. He assumed the lead with 46 laps completed in the 50-lap Mods Snowball Derby and collected the hat trick with Korey Ruble finishing second and Ohioan Kyle Purvis rounding out the podium.
“Three in a row?! Wow!” an astonished Hamrac said in Victory Lane. “It’s awesome. I’ve got one helluva team and one helluva car. I don’t know what to say about three.”
Years, maybe even days, from now few will remember how Hamrac completed his quest.
What must be noted, however, was the savvy driving Hamrac displayed Friday at the famed half-mile asphalt oval. He was patient, watching a pair of one-time leaders cursed with nightmares that ruined their prime chances for glory.
First, Bradenton’s John Sarppraicone Jr. met an untimely demise trying to navigate his way through lapped traffic late in the race. Two cars spun in front of him going into Turn No. 3, and Sarppraicone had no way to avoid the melee.
The resulting damage on Sarppraicone’s No. 88 cost him a win in a race he dominated for most of Friday.
Then, with just a few laps remaining, late model legend Augie Grill found himself bunched up in the Turn No. 4 wall. Grill, driving for a Mods team out of Bastrop, La., got tangled up with Jeff Letson.
Letson believed he had room to slide under Grill for the lead, but he hadn’t quite inched past Grill’s door panel. Instead, Letson drove it deep into Turn No. 3 and nudged Grill’s left rear and sent the two-time Snowflake 100 and two-time Derby champion into the outside wall.
“I was sitting there, saving my tires like I always do,” Hamrac said. “I was hoping they’d take each other out. It all worked out.”
The 50 lapper was delayed for more than 20 minutes after Frankie Martin made a terrifyingly hard crash between turn Nos. 1 and 2. The McCalla, Ala., driver appeared to lose consciousness at the moment of impact and his car was quickly engulfed in flames.
Track safety crews were quick to extinguish the fire and freed Martin, who was taken to a nearby hospital.
Faith Chapel Super Stocks
Age just doesn’t mean a darn thing to Dave Mader III.
At 60, the 1978 Snowball Derby winner appears as spry as ever and sees no need in easing up on the throttle.
Earlier this year, he won a Faith Chapel Super Stocks feature race at Five Flags Speedway to tally a win in five different decades of driving in Pensacola.
On Friday, he set a new track record in qualifying (17.616 seconds), overcame a few unforced errors that momentarily surrendered the lead and 31 other cars to win the 50-lap Faith Chapel Super Stocks Snowball Derby.
“I had to dig way down there,” Mader admitted. “I was not in a good position there. I had to be careful going through traffic.”
Dustin Knowles of Moody, Ala., finished runner-up to Mader and Plant City’s Colin Allman took home third-place honors.
Mader started from the pole, but quickly began feeling the onslaught from a variety of drivers. Allman took a crack at him. Patrick Thomas had his moments of swapping paint with the seasoned driver. But, it was Youngstown’s Corbitt Moseley, who had Mader second-guessing.
“I tell you what: (Thomas and Moseley) are pretty good,” Mader said. “Man, I had to race. I hope we put on a good show for the fans. It’sjust special to win at the Snowball Derby.”
Thomas tasted his only lead of the evening on Lap 22 when Mader made an uncustomary bobble working his way through lapped traffic.
But the grizzly veteran fought right back, driving it deep into Turn No. 3. Mader’s stubbornness made it three wide in the middle of the turn, but successfully slipped in between Thomas and a lapped car to reclaim the lead on Lap 25.
Five laps later, it was Moseley’s No. 26 that was holding its line and throttling past Mader on the outside.
Following a caution, Mader once again forged his way back into clean air while Moseley was black-flagged after repeatedly cutting down Mader and other drivers under caution.
That caused chaos in the pits when Moseley came in. Either someone from Moseley’s team or a competing crew began a wrasslin’ match in the pits, just shy of the start-finish line, that required Escambia County’s finest to intervene.