BRAZIER’S HOT STREAK CONTINUES WITH DERBY POLE by Jeremy Troiano
World Classic Winner Leads Two Youngsters In Qualifying
Just a few weeks ago, Johnny Brazier was turning his 2006 season around by winning the World Classic at Birmingham International Raceway. It was Brazier’s biggest win of the year and his biggest win in the last several years… years that have plagued him with bad luck.
Brazier continued his recent hot streak by winning the pole for Sunday’s 39th Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL. Brazier bested the 66 other drivers to earn the pole on Friday night. Brazier was one of just two drivers that ran sub-17 second laps.
Brazier’s lap of 16.916 seconds was just six one-thousandths of a second better than Brian Scott’s 16.924-second lap.
“It was pretty well on edge,” said Brazier, who had only one-lap of qualifying following issues in pre-qualifying tech. “Actually the car was pretty stable. I had to hang it
Crew members were the first to tell Brazier of his Snowball Derby pole. (51 photos)
out because I was only getting one lap. All of those boys started running those 17.0s and I knew I had to hang it out. It stuck.
“It’s good to be up front. You are a lot les likely to get into any sort of accident. It’s 300 laps though. That is a lot of racing. You can go to the front and go to the back and to the front again. There is a lot that can happen in 300 laps. I don’t know really how important it is, but it makes you feel good. That’s for sure.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find a qualifying session that was more nerve-racking than the Snowball Derby qualifying session, held every Friday night during Derby weekend.
The top-three drivers all backed up that statement.
“I was nervous when I went out,” added Brazier. “After running that lap, I knew that I was in the show for sure. I figured if I got the pole, I got the pole. I was just happy to be in the show.”
Scott, in his first year in a Late Model, showed some guts with his run, which put him on the pole for a little while before Brazier came out for his lap.
“When I went out, I just wanted to make the race,” said Scott, who is crew chiefed by veteran Super Late Model driver and Snowball veteran Freddie Query. “My crew
chief was on the radio with me and after our first lap, he was telling me I went a 17.05. I was just tickled to death with that. Then, afterwards, all he said was ‘you got the pole, you got the pole.’ I was just so excited. I never felt anything like that.
“I got out of the car and I was just shaking.”
Josh Hamner set the early quick time. He also knew how nerve-racking Derby qualifying can be.
“I almost threw up in my car. I was just so nervous,” said Hamner.
“It means the world to get in the field and run such a great lap. You go back one year ago and we were using a provisional to make the race. We spent a lot of time and money to get this right here. I’m super happy with it. The team has worked hard all day long. We went out there today and made four laps of practice and I told the guys not to touch it at all.”
Despite the prestige that went with Brazier’s Derby pole, he was the first to bring it back to reality.
“I was talking with someone earlier and we were saying if
Charlie (Bradberry) was here, he probably would have beat me out. I wish he would have been here. it means a lot to be on the Derby pole though.
“But really, it hasn’t sunk in yet. It will sink in Sunday morning when we line up.”
Jeff Choquette qualified fourth, with Cale Gale getting the fifth position.