VanderLey Erases Bad Derby Memories, Scores Pro Truck Victory in Wild 50 Lapper
By Chuck Corder
With a full moon dancing across a pitch-black sky Saturday at Five Flags Speedway, the Pro Trucks running of the 50th Annual Snowball Derby certainly had a touch of the strange.
There was a fight in the grandstands. A driver got out of his truck on the back stretch to give a rival a piece of his mind during a late caution before race officials escorted him off the raceway. And, speaking of yellows, there were 11 of them in the 50-lap race.
Through it all, D.J. VanderLey maintained his resolve and made a triumphant run to not only racing, but the famed half-mile asphalt oval.
VanderLey, originally from Mobile, purged ghosts from past Decembers and his emotions bubbled over in Victory Lane with his first career Derby win.
“I’m worn out,” said VanderLey, who finished a close second to Chase Elliott in that memorable battle for the 2011 Snowball Derby crown. “I haven’t raced in two years now. That was a long night.”
He assumed the lead following a caution on Lap 33, withstood a few more yellows down the stretch and held off Andrew Johnson and Logan Boyett, who finished second and third, respectively.
“It was back-and-forth the whole night for us, but congrats to D.J.,” said Boyett, who will make his fifth career start in today’s big race. “That was fun, and we had a heckuva race.”
A full 36-truck field certainly made things interesting Saturday night.
Jarrett Parker and Steven Davis, the past two Pro Trucks Derby champions started on the front row with Parker on the pole.
Both had disappointing nights. Parker’s ended when he was trying to hold onto the lead while battling Cody Haskins in Turn No. 2. The two cars got loose and Parker’s No. 46 wheel-hopped the No. 2 truck. Parker’s tail end swung around and slammed into Haskins, who careened into the outside wall.
Parker’s machine suffered too much damage from the incident. Davis struggled all evening and finished 23rd.
VanderLey, after battling James earlier in the evening for the third spot, took over P1 following the incident between Parker and James.
The ride to the win in the final 17 laps wasn’t a smooth one. VanderLey had his challengers, one of the biggest coming from short-track legend Bubba Gale.
Following the eight caution of the night with 45 laps completed, VanderLey led the decimated field to the green flag with Gale sitting fourth.
Gale made a big move and pulled even with VanderLey on the back stretch. Going into Turn No. 3, though, Johnson saw an opportunity to contend for the lead and made it three-wide.
Everyone had a feeling that wasn’t gonna end well, and it didn’t. With Gale and Johnson sandwiching him, VanderLey had nowhere to go and was forced into Gale, who spun out.
VanderLey had another quality restart and was less than a front stretch away from white flag when a wreck occurred behind him to bring out the 10th caution.
That meant a green-white-checkered finish. It took two attempts for VanderLey to get to the checkered flag as another caution left only 11 of the 36 trucks that started the 50 lapper out on the track.
50th Annual Snowball Derby
- 38 DJ VanderLey
- 66 Andrew Johnson
- 9 Logan Boyett
- 12 Brandon Burk
- 6 Okie Mason
- 39 Mark Chrudimsky
- 37 Kaden Honeycutt
- 13 David Webster
- 06 Dale Sheen
- 28 Shawn Paul Lehman
- 1 Jonathan Langham
- 96 Rick Pollaro
- 21 Jason Welch
- 52 Eric Courville
- 54 Bubba Gale
- 58 Mickey Dearman
- 26 Ray Hoey
- 67 Daniel Bradford
- 40 Craig Roper
- 15 Colt James
- 12 Adam Haugh
- 41 Troy Grisaffi
- 95 Steven Davis
- 48 Tovia Grynewicz
- 2 Cody Haskins
- 46 Jarrett Parker
- 9 Chris Wagner
- 56 Darryl Rudd
- 15 Mark Lindley
- 14 Adams Briggs
- 29 Shanna Ard
- 05 Brandon Leonard
- 68 Lori Lindley
- 51 Trevor Bowen
- 55 Hunter Hall
- 12 Eric Wallace