Trackside Now: 40th Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway - Friday AM
Practice and Snowball Derby Qualifying On Tap Today  
40th Annual Snowball Derby
Nov. 28th - Dec. 2nd
Five Flags Speedway
Pensacola, Florida
Friday, 12:30pm CT – We are now going to switch to a PM version of today's action. 
CLICK HERE NOW for the Friday Trackside Now PM updates.

Friday, 12:00pm CT – The practice session for the Super Stocks has concluded.  The track is now silent for lunch and for the next door funeral.  Officials are expecting to get things rolling again around 12:30pm.

Friday, 11:56am CT – Here are the top 10 times for both Late Model divisions for the first practice session of the day.  A complete listing of all practice speeds will be posted later today.

Super Late Models - Top 10 Practice Times  (session 1)
1.#66 Steven Wallace (17.275)
2.#38H Josh Hamner (17.318)
3.#0 David Hole (17.348)
4.#10 Ryan Foster (17.369)
5.#30 Dave Mader III (17.408)
6.#92 Jeff Choquette (17.415)
7.#10C Ryan Crane (17.421)
8.#47 Brian Campbell (17.455)
9.#31 Ryan Lawler (17.463)
10.#83 Cale Gale (17.493)

Pro Late Models - Top 10 Practice Times  (session 1)
1.#96 Steven Davis (17.668)
2.#44 Wes Burton (17.706)
3.#23 Paul Kelly (17.722)
4.#25 Brent Downey (17.757)
5.#12 Joey Senter (17.820)
6.#81 Brandon Odom (17.876)
7.#72 Greg Leachman (17.880)
8.#2 Daren Vanderley (17.896)
9.#51 Wyatt Webb (17.928)
10.#18 Ronnie Sanders (17.953)

Friday, 11:22am CT – A few more notes have floated up from the infield.

Paul Kelly hasn’t been out on the track today.  He will attempt a mock qualifying run during the next practice session.

Cassius Clark told Speed51.com the team found he had a skip in motor yesterday.  They were able to figure it out and are back on track.

Ronnie Sanders was quick in his #18 Pro Late Model.  The team is looking to change his carberator to see if it is a little better.

2007 Pro Late Model track champion Sammy McMullen hasn’t made it on the track today in his #51 machine. 

Friday, 11:02am CT – The checkered flag has come out, ending the first round of practice for the Super Late Models and Pro Late Models this morning.  

The Super Stocks will be getting on the track momentarily for their practice, followed by the break at 12:00pm for lunch and the funeral next door then the final two hour practice of the day for the Super Late Models and Pro Late Models.

Friday, 10:50am CT – Some of the southern contingent in the Super Late Model world just assume that New England Super Late Model drivers Johnny Clark and Cassius Clark are related.  The two PASS Series drivers however, are not kin.

They may not be related but there are some un-canny similarities. Cassius is from Farmington, Maine while Johnny is from Farmingdale, Maine. Although the two drivers live in different towns, they both live on Town Farm Road (two different roads).

“I guess we’re brothers from another mother,” laughed Clark… that would be Johnny Clark.

Friday, 10:46am CT – Several Teams are attempting to make bonsai taped-up qualifying runs.  Wayne Anderson was attempting to make a two-lap run and got pinched up close to the wall by Steven Wallace.  Anderson got by Wallace, who then tried to make his two-lap mock-qual run but it seemed Wayne slacked off a bit and impeded the run of the #66.  Wallace hopped along side of Anderson’s #84 and the two ran side by side for a lap before Anderson pulled off the track.

Friday, 10:39am CT – The green flag is back out for practice.

Friday, 10:34am CT – Some notes are floating in from the Speed51.com guys in the pit area.

Matt Hawkins hit the track during the first segment, which is his first laps on the track since practice started for the Snowball Derby weekend.

Stanley Smith will be making a  mock qualifying run sometime today to get the car ready for qualifying.

Trevor Sandborn's crew discovered they blew out both front shocks during yesterday's practice session.  The team has decided to go back to a setup they know works instead of a radical one they were trying yesterday.

Friday, 10:34am CT – Practice has stopped for the moment as the officials clear the back gate.  Yesterday officials cleared the back gate and took five minute breaks around the top and bottom of the hour, and that is expected today as well during the practice sessions.

Friday, 10:25am CT – While practice continues, we have some news from last night away from the track, or at least the Five Flags Speedway track.

Jeff Choquette was the big winner at the big go-kart “Snowball Showdown” at Fast Eddies Fun Center. Choquette cleaned up by winning both the drivers race and the overall-competition. The only race he didn’t win was the “celebrity race.”  Kat Counrty FM radio took the top-honors in that race spanking 51’s Steven Neely in the process.

Friday, 10:22am CT – Kyle Fowler was the quickest Pro Late Model in the final practice Thursday putting a smile on the Georgia youngster’s face.  Fowler is getting a little help this weekend from Doug Stevens as far as setup and consulting.

Friday, 10:20am CT – Clay Rogers is sticking to what made him the 2006 Snowball Champ… the basics. When he and teammate Bobby Gill unloaded last year, Bobby went with a baseline setup while Rogers experimented with setups. Gill was fast while Rogers struggled so before the race the team made sure both cars went back to basics before the Derby.

This year, Rogers decided not to play too much. They unloaded with the same baseline setup that got him the win last year and decided to tweak from there. Why try to re-invent the wheel right?

Friday, 10:20am CT – Bubba Pollard's weekend continues to be a bit frustrating.  After missing practice yesterday due to his rocker arms not conforming to the track rules, he had some shipped in.  Unfortunately the ones that they received were used, so they are awaiting a shipment today with new rocker arms.

Friday, 10:13am CT – The yellow flag has come out for the first time today as Donny Kelly spun his #71D Pro Late Model, sliding sideways down the front stretch.  He was able to pull off and continue as we are back under green flag conditions.

Friday, 10:09am CT – Joey Senter only made five laps in practice on Thursday.  Senter told Speed51.com that they will get out there a bit today, but he was confident with his race car.

Friday, 10:09am CT – Poker Players?  While ESPN and NBC air Poker shows constantly, one has been going on right here at Five Flags Speedway. Several drivers chose to not show their cards during Thursday practice. Dave Mader III and Wayne Anderson did not make many laps during the sessions, but Anderson was quickest in his little time on-track.

Matt Hawkins #22 didn’t even leave the trailer on Thursday. Mike Garvey and the defending Snowflake champ tested at Five Flags earlier in the week and chose to bypass the opening day of practice all together.

Stanley Smith, who is attempting to put his #49 in the show for Joey Logano (who is at the NASCAR banquet in New York), never got a full-lap at speed on Thursday. Smith took the car out to shake it down. He told Speed51.com that with all the congestion on the track he didn’t get completely up to speed.

“I’ve been around here a few times,” joked Smith with a smile.

Logano, the 2006 NASCAR Busch East Series champion, will fly to Pensacola after the banquet to run the 40th Annual Snowball Derby… granted Smith puts the car in the show.

Our pick for the best poker face though goes to Eddie Mercer. Just like last year, Mercer kept ‘em guessing by not bringing his #72 car on track until late on Thursday.  He only took a few laps but they were fast.

“I don’t play Poker,” laughed Mercer. We think that maybe he should.

Friday, 10:03am CT – Many drivers will be attempting mock qualifying runs throughout the day.  The only problem is the amount of traffic on the track.  Getting a clean lap is going to be difficult.  With the cost of new tires, it is an expensive gamble to attempt the mock run, especially if it gets botched.

Friday, 10:02am CT – Cars are on the track for the first practice session of the day. 

Friday, 9:55am CT – With five minutes before the practice starts, well over 30 cars are in line waiting for the green flag to go out.  Just like yesterday, officials will allow 15 cars on the track at a time, and when one pulls off they will let one go out.

Friday, 9:53am CT – After the driver's meeting, Speed51.com's Elgin Traylor checked in with the #51 Kyle "Rowdy" Busch team.  They are changing the rear end this morning in the car.  They said the car just hasn't been right since the last race they ran it.

Friday, 9:45am CT – More driver's meeting notes:

Right after the driver's meeting, drivers reported to the tech area to draw pills for their qualifying spots.  Officials told the drivers if they do not draw for position, they will start first.  Also if a driver misses their spot in qualifying, the best they can start is 11th, regardless if they set fast time during the session.

Officials reminded the teams to make sure their lead weights are tied down in their cars.  Apparantly someone's lead dropped out on the track yesterday.  If that happens today, officials said they will fine a team $10 per pound of the lead weight.

If a team positions their generator so that the the exhaust is blowing on the tires of their car while they sit in the qualifying line, officials said the best they can start is 11th, regardless of their time.  Teams do this to warm up the tires prior to their run.

Friday, 9:30am CT – The driver's meeting has concluded and the teams are getting prepared for the first round of practice this am.

Driver's meeting notes:

While schedule of events remains fairly the same as advertised, officials did note that a funeral is scheduled next door at 12:00pm.  Just like yesterday, the track will shut down activities during that time span and will resume as soon as they receive word the funeral has completed.  Yesterday it was about a 30 to 45 minute downtime.

The officials stressed once again stressed the traffic flow.  Yesterday went fairly smooth and they would like to continue that today.  They also told the drivers to make sure they had a spotter in place during the practices and to stay low on the track until getting up to speed.

Friday, 8:50am CT – The driver's meeting will begin shortly.  We are going to head down to the track, shake some hands and listen to the rules of the day's action.

Friday, 8:30am CT – It is another great morning here at Five Flags Speedway for the 40th Annual Snowball Derby events.  After a long day of practice yesterday for the Super Late Models and Pro Late Models, the drivers and crews are preparing for another long day of action on the track.

On tap today is practice for the Supers and Pros as well as practice for the Super Stock division.  Later this evening, the Super Stocks will hold a 75-lap feature as well as a 50 lap Sportsman Feature.  The big event of the day though is the Snowball Derby qualifying, which is a race in itself.

Here is the schedule for today’s action.

8:00am – Pits open
9:00am – Driver’s meeting
10:00am – Late Model Practice (combined Super and Pro)
11:00am – Super Stock Practice
12:15pm-12:30pm – Lunch break
12:30pm – 2:30 pm Late Model Practice (combined Super and Pro)
Super Stock qualifying / B main
3:00pm – Snowball Derby cars to Pre-qualifying tech in order of draw
6:00pm – Snowball Derby qualifying (lock in fastest 30)
7:45pm – Pre-race festivities
8:00pm – Sportsman feature (50 laps)
Super Stock feature (75 laps)

Speed51.com's Matt Dillner, Jason Buckley, Steve Neely and Elgin Traylor are at the track today ready to bring you all the day's action.  Dillner, Neely and Traylor will spend most of the day in the pits taking photos and gathering up news nuggets while Buckley will be the eye in the sky from the press booth, watching what is happening from up top and updating Trackside Now.

Also, Jamie Williams is on the way to the track to assist with the photography.  Williams will be around mid day.
Well over 30 cars lined up for practice five minutes before it started on Friday.
Drivers and crew members listen in during the Friday morning driver's meeting.
Last night this mangled mess was seen leaving the track area.  Believe it or not, this was a Bomber car.  It flipped going into turn one on the first lap of a heat race.  The driver was ok.
Donny Kelley brought out the first yellow flag of the Friday practice by spinning on the front stretch.  Besides throwing up a smoke screen, he was able to get it righted and continue on.
Mike Garvey (left) and Matt Hawkins (right) tested at Five Flags Speedway earlier this week to prepare for this weekend's events.
Stanley Smith will attempt to qualify the #49 Super Late Model today for Joey Logano, who is in New York for the NASCAR banquet.
Many people think Johnny Clark (left) and Cassius Clark (right) are related, but they aren't.
More cars are entering the track Friday morning.
Steven Wallace's car was the fastest Super Late Model in the first practice session. 
Steven Davis was the fastest Pro Late Model in the AM.
David Hole showed up to the track with a different look.  So far it has paid off as he is fast in practice.
Cassius Clark's team fixed a skip in his motor they found and are back on track today.
Casey Smith smokes 'em into turn one.