Saturday 12:45am CT - Eddie Mercer had not won at his hometown track, Five Flags Speedway, since his memorable Snowball Derby victory in 2005. That all changed Friday night, as Mercer had the dominant car throughout the early and late stages of the 100-lap Blizzard Series finale to score the win over Grant Enfinger, who led twice for 44 laps. Adam Crawford, son of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Rick Crawford, finished third.
It was a night where none of the top-three in Blizzard Series points wanted to win the championship. Justin Drawdy, second in points coming in, was crashed out mid-race. Point leader going in Ryan Crane was involved in an incident that also took out third-place points man Scott Carlson. In the end, though, Carlson got back on the track after the incident and finshed sixth to earn him a tie in points with Crane, who finished 12th. Because Carlson had more victories (two) than Crane (none), Carlson was declared the 2007 Blizzard Series Champion.
Friday 11:36pm CT - Eddie Mercer has won the final Blizzard race of the year. Points are still being tabulated. More to come shortly.
Friday 11:33pm CT - Grant Enfinger has moved back to second on lap 92, but Mercer has checked out up front.
Friday 11:33pm CT - Eddie Mercer has taken the lead in turn three on lap 88 and now has the lead. He has checked out and Adam Crawford has taken second over Enfinger.
Friday 11:31pm CT - We're green on lap 85 and Ryan Crane is still on pit road. It's Enfinger, Mercer, Crawford, McFarland, Jett, Carlson, Campbell and Craig.
Friday 11:27pm CT - Another point leader bites the dust. On lap 84, Scott Carlson and Brian Campbell collided in turn three as they split Hunter Robbins at the end of the backstretch. When Robbins backed off from the middle lane, Campbell slid up and Carlson came down, causing both drivers to wreck in three. Both Carlson and Campbell continue on the lead lap, as there are only eight cas on the lead lap.
Ryan Crane, who narrowly escaped the wreck, is on pit road now as well and his team is addressing a right-front problem. The team had A-arm trouble in practice yesterday, so perhaps this is a continuation of that.
None of our points leaders tonight have gone through unscathed thus far.
Friday 11:18pm CT - On the restart, the lapped car of Casey Smith drag raced with leader Grant Enfinger for a lap and a half, but Enfinger held strong up high. Carlson has settled into second with Mercer third as Smith has been freight trained deep in the field.
Lap 82 and Eddie Mercer just shoved his way to second by Scott Carlson in turn one.
Friday 11:18pm CT - We're still cleaning up the big wreck, but right now Crane is back on top of the points by 10 over Carlson.
Friday 11:08pm CT - Yellow is out for a big crash on lap 79. Involved are Justin Drawdy, Josh Hamner, Donald Long, Heath Hindman and Stephen Davis. Hamner's car is pinned against the wally by Justin Drawdy's car. The crash started when Dale Little failed to come up to speed to start the pileup. Drawdy and Hamner's cars appear to have the worst damage of all.
Red flag is out for cleanup. All drivers are okay. Drawdy's title chances are shot now, as he entered second in points, but will have a disappointing finish tonight. Now the running order is Enfinger, Reuse, Carlson, Mercer, Robbins, Crane, Cambpell, Crawford, McFarland.
Friday 11:08pm CT - On Pit Road: Enfinger, Mercer, Hamner, Carlson, Robbins, Crane, Long, Davis....Off Pit Road: Enfinger, Carlson, Mercer, Hamner, Long, Hole, Robbins, Davis. Ryan Crane came into pits sixth and left 11th. Carlson runs third, so the points are getting interesting. Right now, Scott Carlson has a five-point lead for the title
Roger Reuse did not pit and has the lead, but won't be there for long with cars behind him on new rubber.
Friday 11:05pm CT - The second caution of the night is out on lap 71 for the crashed car of Casey Smith in turn four. Pit road is about to get busy as all lead lapped cars are getting ready to take tires.
Friday 11:03pm CT - The leaders have hit a big pack of lapped traffic on lap 65. Enfinger got through smoothly, but Mercer did not and now follows Enfinger by 15 carlengths.
Friday 11:02pm CT - Josh Hamner just nudged Jason Young out of third on lap 63. Young then got freight trained back to seventh. Up front, Eddie Mercer is slowly nibbling down Grant Enfinger's lead with Hamner nearly a full straightaway behind Mercer.
Jason Young has brought his #27 to pit road on lap 63, eliminating his chances for victory tonight.
Friday 10:57pm CT - Halfway now and Engfinger has opened up an eight carlength lead over Mercer. Scott Carlson, currently second in points, passed point leader Ryan Crane on lap 43 for fifth, but as of yet it's still not enough for Carlson to win the title.
Friday 10:55pm CT - Grant Enfinger got a great jump on the lap 37 restart, but could not complete the pass by Mercer for the lead. He tried it again on lap 40 and completed the pass in turn four. It's now Enfinger, Mercer, Young, Hamner, Crane and Carlson.
Friday 10:50pm CT - Caution is out on lap 31 as Ron Joyner spun and Donald Long spun in the wake of the incident in turn two. That eliminates Eddie Mercer's dominant lead, pulling Grant Enfinger, Jason Young, Josh Hamner, Ryan Crane, Scott Carlson and Hunter Robbins close on the restart.
Donald Long, Chris Whorton and Dale Little all were penalized for coming onto pit road too early. Those were the only drivers to take to pit road on this caution. Restart will come on lap 37.
Friday 10:44pm CT - Lap 20 now and we're caution free. Eddie Mercer has a 10 carlength lead over Grant Enfinger and has begun to work through lapped traffic. Enfinger, Jason Young, Josh Hamner, Ryan Crane and Scott Carlson run bumper to bumper behind the leader.
Friday 10:34pm CT - Engines have fired for the SLM race, but track officials have announced that tonight's Pro Late Model runner-up finisher Dennis Reno, Jr. has been DQ'ed in post-race tech. No further details were made available.
Pace laps have begun and we'll be green in moments.
Friday 10:12pm CT - The Bomber races is over and Michael Johnson has taken the victory. Brennan Fowler has clinched the championship.
That sets the stage for the Blizzard Series 100-lap finale. Teams are getting their cars ready for the race and we'll be green in mere moments.
Friday 9:56pm CT - We're halfway through the 25-lap Bomber feature. Immediately following this race will be the 100-lap Blizzard Series Super Late Model feature.
Friday 9:17pm CT - Brandon Carlson has won the 50-lap Pro Late Model feature race. By finishing third, Sammy McMullen has clinched the PLM track title.
Friday 9:10pm CT - On the restart, Hal Martin was involved in a hard crash that brought out the yellow. Martin slammed the rear of the car ahead of him on the restart that failed to come up to speed. With this crash, this ensures Brandon Carlson of finishing at least second in points. Martin is out of his car and okay.
Friday 9:02pm CT - Mitch Cobb and Bobby Reuse have tangled in turn two to bring out the caution with just four laps remaining. That sets up another shootout between Carlson, Reno, McMullen, Sanders and Garmon.
Friday 8:51pm CT - Keith Cahela, Shane Cheney and Michael Massey have crashed to set up a 10-lap shootout to the finish. Carlson leads Reno, McMullen, Garmon, Sanders and Martin.
Friday 8:49pm CT - Brandon Carlson got one heck of a jump on the restart to take the lead. Carlson rocketed from his third-place re-starting spot to pass Dennis Reno for second in turn one and leader Jimmy Garmon in turn three to take the top spot. Carlson is now pulling away as McMullen pressures Reno for second. Garmon dropped back to fourth.
Friday 8:46pm CT - Caution is back out on lap 31 for a spin on the fronstretch by 10th grader Chase Oliver. The field closes up behind Garmon, Reno, Carlson, McMullen, Sanders and Hal Martin. As they run, McMullen would win the title with Carlson taking second from Martin, but there's still 19 laps to go.
Friday 8:43pm CT - We're halfway in the 50-lap PLM race. Jimmy Garmon still leads Dennis Reno, Brandon Carlson and Sammy McMullen. The top-four run bumper-to-bumper up front.
Friday 8:33pm CT - Our leaders had to take evasive action as Greg Leachman and Scott Patton have crashed just ahead of them on lap nine, but everyone got through except Leachman and Patton. It's still Garmon, Reno, Carlson, McMullen and Odom.
Friday 8:27pm CT - Carl Smith has brought out the caution on the first lap of the 50-lap Pro Late Model race, hitting the turn-one wall. Jimmy Garmon leads Dennis Reno, Brandon Carlson, Sammy McMullen and Brandon Odom.
Friday 8:25pm CT - Engines have fired for the final Pro Late Model race of the 2007 points season here at Five Flags. Sammy McMullen will start fourth and has a 36-point lead over Hal Martin, who starts from seventh tonight. Brandon Carlson, third in points one tally behind Martin, starts third.
Friday 8:09pm CT - Five Flags Officials have just passed along word that our SLM pole sitter Brian Campbell and fifth-place qualifier Heath Hindman have been DQ'ed from their times and will have to start the 100-lap race from the rear of the field. Officials found issues with both cars in post-qualifying tech.
Friday 8:00pm CT - The Pro Late Model field is lining up on the frontstretch for their 50-lap feature. Green flag should fall in the next 15 minutes.
Friday 7:47pm CT - Brian Campbell has come from Grand Rapids, MI to Pensacola, FL to shock the Five Flags fans by setting fast time for tonight's Blizzard Series Super Late Model event. Campbell, who had not ever even seen Five Flags before last night's practice session, went out late in qualifying and stole the pole from hometown hero Eddie Mercer. Mercer was second-quick, followed by Grant Enfinger, Jason Young and Heath Hindman.
Friday 7:09pm CT - GAS regular Jimmy Garmon has set fast time for tonight's 50-lap Pro Late Model event. Dennis Reno, Jr. timed second. Full results to follow.
Friday 6:45pm CT - We keep mentioning who's doing what in both the Super Late Models and the Pro Late Models, but we're sure some of you are asking...just what the heck is the difference between the two? Well, it's simple, really. The two types of cars may look exactly the same from the outside, and they are pretty much the same cars, but the main difference between the two is beneath the hood. To keep it simple, Super Late Models have high-horsepower, big carburetor engines, while the Pro Late Models have slightly less power because of their smaller carburetors. In many racing circles, the two can compete quite nicely with one another, but here at Five Flags, they're separated because power really does make a difference here on the high banks. When the two types of cars return here during Snowball Derby weekend, the Pro Late Models will compete in the Snowflake 100 on Friday, December 1st, while the Super Late Models will be center stage on Sunday, December 2nd in the 300-lap Snowball Derby.
Friday 6:32pm CT - There are quite a few non-Five Flags regulars getting their cars dialed in for the Snowball Derby and Snowflake 100 races this December here on Championship Night. In the Super Late Model field, there's PASS South regulars Corey Williams (but he won't race, as stated below), Adam Crawford and recent Hickory winner Heath Hindman, plus Brian Campbell, son of legendary driver Fred Campbell, who has raced everything from ASA Late Models, PASS South, CRA and various Outlaw Super Late Models in the past. In tonight's Pro Late Model field, we've got GAS regulars Jimmy Garmon and Ronnie Sanders and Georgia PLM driver Chris Whorton, plus Birmingham Super Series regulars Dennis "Tink" Reno, Jr. and Gary Sanford, Jr.
Friday 6:27pm CT - We're minutes away from Pro Late Model qualifying. Past Snowball Derby winner Ronnie Sanders will be the first driver to hit the track.
In the last hour or so, many fans have had their eyes on turns three and four, where smoke is filling the air. There is a controlled burn going on spearheaded by Five Flags Speedway officials to clear land in preparation for the Snowball Derby weekend. Land is being cleared out for extra RV parking.
Friday 6:14pm CT - 2005 Snowball Derby Champion Eddie Mercer set fast time in tonight's practice session for the Blizzard Series Super Late Models. Mercer was slightly quicker than Michigan Late Model racer Brian Campbell making his Blizzard Series debut. Blizzard regulars Casey Smith, David Hole and Donald Long rounded out the top-five. Title contenders Ryan Crane was sixth-quick and Justin Drawdy was 27th.
Brandon Carlson was the quickest of Pro Late Model competitors.
Friday 5:47pm CT - Late Model practice has concluded. We'll have speeds as soon as made available by Five Flags Officials. Bomber cars are on track for their practice sessions.
Friday 5:30pm CT - Practice is still ongoing here at Five Flags Speedway. The Pro Late Models have finished their sessions and now it's the Super Late Models that have the track all to themselves for the next half hour. There have been no incidents thus far, just a couple of lazy spins that did not result in contact with the wall.
There is one bit of controversy already, hoewever. Three-time PASS South feature winner Corey Williams has been told by Blizzard Series officials that he will not be able to compete here tonight. Officials have informed Williams that the steel-head enging inside his #47 machine does not conform to Blizzard Series rules. The team told Speed51.com that they confirmed with track officials that their engine was within the rules before coming down to Pensacola and that the same type of engine that they run has competed here in the past with such drivers as Cassius Clark and Johnny Clark in recent Snowball Derbies, but when they arrived here to Five Flags, series tech director Ricky Brooks has informed them that their Northern steel-head engine was not legal in the Blizzard Series. Track officials have confirmed with Speed51.com that they did speak with Williams' team in recent weeks, but only an issue with the nose on Williams' car not conforming with ABC body rules was discussed. Five Flags Speedway confirmed that they do not have the Northern steel-head engine in their rules package and after conferring with CRA Super Series officials via phone, the engine will not be allowed to be used tonight as Williams' engine is only allowed in the PASS North and South Series, not in the Blizzard nor CRA series.
Friday 2:56pm CT - On-track action is about to get going here at Five Flags. The driver's meeting is scheduled for 3:15 CT (that's 4:15 Eastern). Practice, featuring both the Pro Late Models and Super Late Models on the track together, is scheduled for 3:30 to 5pm. Then, the Blizzard Series SLM's will have the track all to themselves from 5 to 5:30. Qualifying is scheduled for 6:30 and feature events will begin at 8pm.
Friday 2:49pm CT - The weather is perfect here in Pensacola. Temps are in the mid-70's and it's supposed to dip down into the 50's once the sun goes down, but there's not a cloud in the sky. That means championships are going to be decided without interference from Mother Nature tonight.
Ryan Crane currently leads the point standings in the Blizzard Series, 25 markers ahead of Justin Drawdy. Drawdy has one victory this season in the five-race Blizzard Series, but Crane's consistency this year has kept him on top of the standings. Drawdy is only five points ahead of Scott Carlson, who sits third in the standings. Fourth-place points runner Josh Hamner is 100 tallies behind Crane for the Blizzard title.
Winning a championship is always a big deal, but in the Blizzard Series, it's even more important. The top two finishers in Blizzard Series points are guaranteed starting spots in the Snowball Derby. That's why tonight there will be so much on the line. Drivers such as Crane, Drawdy, Carlson and Hamner are out to assure themselves spots in the Derby if they need one. Obviously come Derby time, they hope to make it into the show on time, but if they don't, the top-two points finishers in Blizzard Series points who don't make it in the show on time are guaranteed into the 300-lap race this December. The best way to ensure being in the show is to finish in the top-two in points.
Friday 2:33pm CT - It's Championship Night here at Five Flags Speedway and it is shaping up to be a doozy. Titles will be awarded in all three divisions hitting the historic half-mile track in Pensacola, FL tonight, the Blizzard Series Super Late Models, the Pro Late Models and the Bombers.
Adding a little extra flare to the championship night festivities are the influx of non-regulars of Five Flags action competing in the both the Blizzard Series 100-lap SLM feature and the 50-lap Pro Late Model event tonght. Invaders from PASS South, Georgia Asphalt Series, Birmingham Super Series and more are all here to gain some valuable laps in preparation for the crown jewel of the short track racing season, the 40th Annual Snowball Derby weekend, November 29th through December 2nd here at Five Flags. We'll have more on the Five Flags invaders later here on Trackside Now.
We'll also keep you posted on the points battles throughout the night.