Trackside Now: 40th Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway - Friday PM
40th Annual Snowball Derby
Nov. 28th - Dec. 2nd
Five Flags Speedway
Friday, 3:20pm CT – The Speed51.com crew is going to take a break from the action, stretch our legs and feed our bellies. We will be back fbefore the full Snowball Derby qualifying event, which kicks off at 6:00pm. We will also have the complete day's practice times for the Snowball Derby Super Late Models and the Snowflake 100 Pro Late Models from today's on-track action.
While you are waiting for us to return, check out some of the cool things added to Speed51.com throughout the weekend here at Five Flags Speedway, including the Gary St. Amant Audio Diary (click here), Josh Hamner's Daily Journal (click here), and the Snowball Derby photo gallery (click here).
Friday, 3:13pm CT – Here are the top 10 times for the final practice of the day for the Late Model divisions. A complete listing of all practice speeds will be posted later today.
Super Late Models - Top 10 Practice Times (session 3)
1.#83 Cale Gale (17.302) 2.#47 Brian Campbell (17.407) 3.#7 Gary St. Amant (17.466) 4.#72 Scott Hantz (17.659) 5.#24 JR Roahrig (17.667) 6.#2 Clay Rodgers (17.815) 7.#1 Benny Gordon (17.82) 8.#73 Corey Ruble (17.852) 9.#31 Ryan Lawler (17.969) 10.#27 Jason Young (17.979)
Pro Late Models - Top 10 Practice Times (session 3)
1.#38 Shane Sawyer (17.744) 2.#4 Kyle Fowler (17.748) 3.#51 Zach Stroupe (17.811) 4.#61 Joey Watkins (17.825) 5.#6 Brandon Bendele (17.867) 6.#28 Jack Smith (17.984) 7.#76 Gary Greenwood (18.041) 8.#14 Brent Seeley (18.048) 9.#77 Brian Campbell (18.073) 10.#17 Sam (Shanky) Smith (18.084)
Friday, 3:05pm CT – Qualifying for the Super Stocks have started.
Friday, 2:58pm CT – Wayne Niedecken Jr, who is slated to go off sixth in qualifying, is changing the rear-end on his #99car. The team has told officials that they don't think they will make the line for their spot in qualifying. Officials think that more than three hours is plenty of time to change the rear, but have noted there is a possibility that he won't make it to his spot in time.
Friday, 2:55pm CT – Wayne Anderson wasn’t too thrilled with Steven Wallace’s move during practice. Anderson attempted to make a mock qualifying run but Wallace got in the way.
“After the screw up with Wallace, we went out on old tires and it was pretty good,” said Anderson. “We will be alright.”
Wallace’s car sat under the car cover for most of the later practice sessions. He was seen sitting on top of his hauler watching practice with a few members of his crew.
Friday, 2:46pm CT – Augie Grill helped Benny Gordon get up to speed during the last practice sessions. Grill’s car was done for the day, so he started working with Gordon as he has struggled with his car in practice.
Friday, 2:42pm CT – The checkered flag has waved on the finall practice session for the Super Late Models and Pro Late Models today.
We are going to check with our pit reporters and get some scoops on the happenings over the last session.
Friday, 2:37pm CT – The green flag is out for the final five minutes of practice today for the Super Late Models and Pro Late Models.
Friday, 2:32pm CT – While we are waiting for the practice to resume, we have heard more information from our pit reporters.
Steven Davis’ team continues to be cautiously optimistic about their chances for a good run. After making two short two-lap runs, he parked his car for the rest of the morning sessions. Davis said he may take one more race run later on this afternoon, but they are done making major adjustments to the car.
After trying out a new front shock and spring combination, Korey Ruble decided to change back to their original setup they unloaded with today. They feel like the car has gotten better than it was yesterday.
Tim Martin is running one of his first races since taking a three-month leave of absence due to a back injury. He sustained the injury at Mobile International Speedway over the summer when his car tangled with that of Gary Sullivan and the two launched over the turn three embankment, flipping over and hitting a number of small trees. Tim said that when the pain persisted, he went to a doctor where they performed tests on him and determined that he had a small fracture of his T-12 vertebra.
Friday, 2:28pm CT – The red flag is out for a hard wreck on the front stretch. The #14 of Carl Smith spun and smacked the wall just in front of the flag stand. Before he could get slowed down, Blake Williams barrelled in there and hit both Smith and the inside wall. Both cars appear heavily damaged and are being towed off the track.
Officials have announced that the track will open for five more minutes of practice once they get the track cleaned up.
Friday, 2:15pm CT – Steven McCurley's #1 went into turn one and slowed. Some debris came off his car and ended up on the track. The yellow came out for a few minutes to clean up the debris, then the green flag was redisplayed.
Friday, 2:07pm CT – The green flag is out for the final 30 minutes of practice, ending at 2:30pm.
Friday, 1:58pm CT – The yellow flag is out for the #04 Jerrod Foley backing his Pro Late Model into the turn three wall.
The officials are going to use this as their last break before the final 30 minutes of practice for the Super Late Models and Pro Late Models.
Friday, 1:52pm CT – Dennis Reno, Jr. is practicing Brian Campell's Pro Late Model. Campbell is focusing on his Super Late Model during the practice sessions.
Friday, 1:50pm CT – 102 cars hit the track in the first practice session of the day, but one of the drivers that wasn't on that list was Heath Hindman. He has been sidelined with a broken transmission. The team is working on getting it fixed.
Friday, 1:42pm CT – The cars are back on the track for their final 45 minutes of practice. There will be one more break around the top of the hour.
Friday, 1:36pm CT – Speed51.com's Elgin Traylor is reporting that Carl Smith's crew had to change transmissions in his #14 Pro Late Model.
Friday, 1:32pm CT – The action has stopped again as the bottom of the hour break is currently happening. The break should only last about five minutes.
Friday, 1:25pm CT – Practice continues this segment. It has been green flag since the break, unlike the last caution-filled segment.
Friday, 1:20pm CT – Speed51.com's Steve Neely checked in with Chase Oliver after his spin. Oliver said he was on a mock qualifying run and wanted to see how far he could push it. He now knows where the limit is.
Friday, 1:09pm CT – Cars are back up to speed as practice has resumed.
Friday, 1:05pm CT – The break in practice is a refreshing change for some. The track will clear the back gate and allow people to cross the track. We should be resuming shortly.
Friday, 1:02pm CT – A rash of yellow flags are dominating this session. The yellow flag came out again as Wyatt Webb sent his #51 Pro Late Model into the wall on the backstretch. He was able to continue on as well, and we are back to green.
Friday, 12:58pm CT – Another yellow has flown as the #02 Steve Renner and the #83 Trevor McKinley spun on the front stretch. Both were able to loop their cars around and continue on.
Friday, 12:55pm CT – The second yellow has flown during this segment as the #22 of Josh Bragg smacked the wall in turns three and four. A short cleanup and we are back to green.
Friday, 12:45pm CT – The yellow came out for spins by #5 Chase Oliver and #18 Ronnie Sanders. Both cars were able to continue on and we are back green.
Friday, 12:40pm CT – A few more notes came in from the Speed51.com crew right before the second practice started up.
NASCAR Nextel Cup Series racer David Stremme is walking around in the pit area taking in the Snowball Derby. Stremme told Speed51.com he decided not to race this event due to cost, but will race Speedfest in Lakeland.
Also, the rocker arm saga continues for Bubba Pollard. At first the parts he had didn't conform to Five Flags' rules so he missed a day of practice while new rocker arms were being sent to him. He did receive them, but they were used and not new, so they had some new ones shipped to the track today. Just before practice started, Pollard told Speed51.com their package did arrive, but they shorted him two rocker arms. Pollard said they will just use the old ones they have and motor on.
Friday, 12:38pm CT – The cars have fired up and are rolling onto the track to start the afternoon practice sessions.
Friday, 12:30pm CT – We have now switched to the PM edition of Trackside Now for Friday. For the AM edition, CLICK HERE.
Here is today's remaining schedule.
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)
Trevor McKinley spun his car coming off turn four. Steve Renner came in late and spun out, but both were able to continue.
Chase Oliver went for a ride on the front stretch.
Josh Bragg heads back to the pit area after contact with the wall.
Bubba Pollard has had a fiasco with rocker arms here this weekend. He is now on track and getting in some laps.
the green flag waves as the afternoon practice is underway.
Cale Gale was the fastest Super Late Model in the final practice session.
Jerrod Foley backed his car into the turn three wall.
David Rodgers slides it down the front stretch during the final practice session.
Carl Smith and Blake Williams wrecked hard on the front stretch, damaging their cars.
Shane Sawyer was the fastest Pro Late Model in the final practice session of the day..
Friday, 5:30pm CT – We are awaiting qualifying to begin for the 40th Annual Snowball Derby. The cars are lined up on pit road and the anticipation is mounting. Here is the order they will qualify for the Derby.
1.#87 John Webb 2.#1 Tim Martin 3.#12 Justin Drawdy 4.#54 Johnny Clark 5.#72 Scott Hantz 6.#99 Wayne Niedecken Jr. 7.#73 Korey Ruble 8.#66 Steven Wallace 9.#10 Ryan Crane 10.#99 Dale Little 11.#03 Matt Merrell 12.#8 Cassisus Clark 13.#39 Ryan Sieg 14.#5 Bobby Gill 15.#2 Clay Rogers 16.#99 Casey Smith 17.#72 Eddie Mercer 18.#38 Josh Hamner 19.#83 Cale Gale 20.#1 Benny Gordon 21.#29 Trevor Sanborn 22.#91 Heath Hindman 23.#11 Donald Long 24.#21 Scott Carlson 25.#67 Jeff Fultz 26.#9 Kurt Jett 27.#84 Wayne Anderson 28.#14 Adam Crawford 29.#45 Dwayne Buggary 30.#82 Grant Enfinger 31.#51 Kyle Busch 32.#17 Chris Gabehart 33.#98 Billy Touchtone III 34.#14 Ken McFarland 35.#18 Hunter Robbins 36.#8 Roger Reuse 37.#10 Danny Bagwell 38.#24 Jr. Roahrig 39.#27 Jason Young 40.#30 Dave Mader III 41.#49 Stanley Smith 42.#31 Ryan Lawler 43.#47 Brian Campbell 44.#1 Stephen McCurlely 45.#22 Matt Hawkins 46.#112 Augie Grill 47.#88 David Pollen Jr. 48.#44 Gary Helton 49.#11 David Rogers 50.#83 Trevor McKinley 51.#33 Richard Fincher 52.#9 Justin Marks 53.#0 David Hole 54.#10 Ryan Foster 55.#86 Mike Fritts 56.#92 Jeff Choquette 57.#7 Gary St. Amant 58.#48 Cecil Chunn
Friday, 7:24pm CT – Qualifying has completed. Cale Gale is the pole setter for the 40th Annual Snowball Derby.
We will have complete times and more information shortly. Of note, both Steve Wallace and the Kyle Busch car, driven by Jason Hogan, failed to make the top 30 and will have to race their way into the show.
Friday, 7:20pm CT – Here is the current correct list after 50 drivers have timed in.
1.83 Cale Gale 16.983 2.17 Chris Gabehart 17.017 3.14 Ken McFarland 17.02 4.22 Matt Hawkins 17.021 5.54 Johnny Clark 17.03 6.44 Gary Helton 17.062 7.8 Cassisus Clark 17.079 8.72 Eddie Mercer 17.091 9.38 Josh Hamner 17.11 10.82 Grant Enfinger 17.133 11.39 Ryan Sieg 17.135 12.47 Brian Campbell 17.15 13.10 Ryan Crane 17.16 14.112 Augie Grill 17.167 15.1 Tim Martin 17.175 16.84 Wayne Anderson 17.18 17.72 Scott Hantz 17.188 18.21 Scott Carlson 17.21 19.27 Jason Young 17.22 20.11 Donald Long 17.23 21.67 Jeff Fultz 17.233 22.31 Ryan Lawler 17.237 23.12 Justin Drawdy 17.247 24.91 Heath Hindman 17.254 25.18 Hunter Robbins 17.277 26.98 Billy Touchtone III 17.287 27.30 Dave Mader III 17.292 28.99 Casey Smith 17.299 29.33 Richard Fincher 17.314 30.66 Steven Wallace 17.327 31.24 Jr. Roahrig 17.328 32.73 Korey Ruble 17.342 33.51 Kyle Busch 17.37 34.11 David Rogers 17.372 35.1 Benny Gordon 17.379 36.5 Bobby Gill 17.38 37.10 Danny Bagwell 17.382 38.8 Roger Reuse 17.395 39.29 Trevor Sanborn 17.408 40.1 Stephen McCurlely 17.413 41.49 Stanley Smith 17.443 42.3 Matt Merrell 17.445 43.99 Wayne Niedecken Jr. 17.543 44.2 Clay Rogers 17.627 45.14 Adam Crawford 17.662 46.45 Dwayne Buggary 17.685 47.99 Dale Little 17.748 48.87 John Webb 17.863 49.9 Kurt Jett 18.055 50.83 Trevor McKinley 18.933
Friday, 7:06pm CT – We apologize for the information being incorrect on our 6:47pm update. We will have an update here shortly.
Currently Cale Gale sits on the pole position.
Friday, 6:47pm CT – A total of 30 cars have taken time thus far. Only 30 cars will be locked into the field tonight from qualifying, so the bumping will now begin.
Here is the current times of the 30 drivers that have taken time thus far.
NOTE: We were having trouble with our timing. We will replace the times momentarily.
Friday, 6:04pm CT – As Cale Gale told Speed51.com's Matt Dillner just a few moments ago on pit road, "It's Showtime!"
The 40th Annual Snowball Derby qualifying has begun as John Webb enters the track in his #87 Super Late Model and gets up to speed. Once qualifying is complete, we will have the update. If we can, we will update the site throughout the qualifying event.
Friday, 5:45pm CT – Just 15 minutes remain until qualifying starts. Drivers are getting into their suits, ready to rock and roll.
Friday, 10:45pm CT – The feature events have concluded here at Five Flags Speedway.
Super Stock track champion Chris Cotto waited until the final ten laps before he took the lead away from pole sitter Donnie Hamrac. Cotto then cruised to the victory in the 75-lap shootout. Rounding out the top five were James Kimbrough, Brandon Harris, and Mike Murphy who came up from 22nd to post a top-five run.
A wild start to the Sportsman division feature at Five Flags has concluded with an equally wild finish. The race began with a major incident in turn four that included a flip by the car of James Ziniewicz, who fortunately was uninjured and was able to climb out under his own power.
Polesitter Billy Hoover looked set to dominate the race and led for the first 33 laps before retiring with engine problems, handing the lead over to 2007 Sportsman division champion Randy Thompson.
Thompson led and looked well on his way to victory until his car suddenly slowed going into turn three on the final lap. As his car came out of turn four and headed to the checkers, Bo Resmondo and Gary Robinson passed Thompson coming to the checkers.
Friday, 10:13pm CT – Racing action continues here at Five Flags Speedway as the Super Stock feature is on the track. We will have recaps from both features as well as more Snowball Derby post-qualifying notes coming up yet tonight.
Friday, 10:10pm CT – We did receive clarification from the officials on the disqualification of Chris Gabehart's car. The rear quarter panels were too high.
Friday, 9:45pm CT – One of the most shocking developments during Snowball Derby qualifying was hearing the times of one of the best-financed teams in the infield, the Richie Wauters-prepared cars driven by Steven Wallace and Jason Hogan (driving for Kyle Busch). Wallace could only post a time good enough for 33rd while Hogan timed in 36th. This was shocking because of the meticulous preparation from Wauters’ teams as well as the sheer number of tires the team used to make mock qualifying runs.
A source close to the team told Speed51.com they used up to 11 sets of tires on Friday, which equals out to $6600.
“We were just trying to make sure both cars could qualify for the race,” said Wauters about the tires. “You know, I don’t really know. Steven overdrove the car in qualifying getting in, and Jason under drove the car, so I don’t know what to say.”
Wauters was more optimistic about the team’s chances in the last chance races on Saturday, and detailed a possible scenario for the driver lineup in those races.
“They’ll both race good in race trim,” said Wauters. “They were both good in practice. Steven will probably start the heat in third. I don’t know about Kyle. We’ll probably let Jason race it because Kyle will have to start dead last and there ain’t enough laps to get to the front.”
Friday, 9:20pm CT – Cale Gale may have a job with Kevin Harvick, Inc and may be living the dream running part-time in the NASCAR Busch Series, but coming home to Pensacola and winning the pole for the 40th Annual Snowball Derby is a dream come true for the 22-year old.
“I remember in 2004 when I first came here I was worried about not making a fool of myself when I went out there to qualify,” laughed Gale. “To come back here three or four years later and sit on the pole is unbelievable. This race means so much to my dad, all the guys that help me and I. Since I was eight years old I have been coming here and my dad has run this race a few times.
“It’s just awesome to be able to come back here to the Snowball Derby and sit on the pole for the biggest Short Track race of the year.”
Friday, 9:10pm CT – For Clay Rogers, the past few years have been filled with as many ups and downs as a Cedar Park Roller Coaster. Just before last year’s Derby Rogers lost his ride in the Pro Cup Series. He then crossed the line third in the Derby, but in an emotional turn of events was awarded the win and given the trophy in post-race tech when Johnny Brazier was stripped of his Derby victory and second-place finisher Bobby Gill was also disqualified.
This year Rogers got another shot in the Elite levels of NASCAR. He was tabbed to pilot the #75 Spears Trucking ride in the Craftsman Truck Series. This morning, Rogers received a call that made his stomach drop.
“That really blind-sided me when I got the call this morning that they were shutting down the team. After Homestead (final Craftsman Truck Series race of the season) I was told I had a ride for next year.
“It’s just extremely disappointing. It makes you wonder what you’ve gotta do? You win championships and the teams shut down. Then another deal and you lead points and win races and they go ARCA Racing. When I picked up the Spears deal they were having a terrible year. We turned the corner on that and were having better results than they had all year long. I appreciate them giving me the opportunity to get my name back out there.
Although he found out his ride was gone, and had a sub-par qualifying lap, Rogers was still able to manage a smile.
“Sunday has to be my silver lining because it can’t get any worse. We qualified 18th last year and were in the lead by lap 60 or so. Our racecar is real good and we will definitely be a contender to win.”
Friday, 9:04pm CT – Two noticeable underdogs that performed real well in qualifying were Lousiana’s Tim Martin and local driver Billy Tutchtone III. How good were their runs, well they beat out Pro Cup Champions Bobby Gill, Clay Rogers and Benny Gordon as well as Busch driver Steven Wallace. Not too shabby.
Friday, 9:01pm CT – The word from the officials is that Ken McFarland had a carburetor infraction.
Friday, 8:40pm CT – The revolving door of qualifying continues as Ricky Brooks and the Snowball tech staff have thrown out a second driver following qualifying. The outside of the front row has changed again as Ken McFarland has been tossed from the show. That moves Matt Hawkins up to the second position at the moment.
Cecil Chunn, who originally timed in 32nd, is now 30th and in the field, unofficially.
We have not heard why McFarland was disqualified. As soon as we find out we will post it.
Friday, 8:35pm CT – On the track, the Sportsman feature is taking place. We still have a ton of updates and reaction from post qualifying coming soon.
Friday, 8:30pm CT – Speed51.com's Elgin Traylor caught up with Chris Gabehart just coming out of the tech area. Gabehart was not happy with the decision by the officials.
“They said my quarter panel heights were too low," explained Gabehart. "The only reason they are is because of all the rebound in the front of the car kept it sucked down, so it’s the rear jacked down and the quarter panels jacked up. That’s got the pitch of the car all different.
"I was unaware that I have to be reasonable for what my car does on the racetrack. I was good as I rolled through, I don’t understand how a low budget short-track racer is supposed to be responsible for what the car does on the race track. Were not at Atlanta Motor Speedway. We don’t run two hundred miles an hour. Downforce is not the key to the Snowball Derby. These people have their ego’s messed up."
Gabehart said he is not sure if he will come back tomorrow to try to get in the show via the qualifying races.
We will try to get the specific infraction from the tech officials.
Friday, 8:03pm CT – According to officials, Chris Gabehart's quarter panels were not the right height. We will have more information soon.
Friday, 7:58pm CT – Officials just notified us that Chris Gabehart was disqualified after going through post-qualifying tech. We are heading to his pit area to get more information on the situation.
Due to Gabehart getting disqualified, that puts Casey Smith in the show momentarily.
The tech officials will be teching the fastest 35 cars.
Friday, 7:40pm CT – We will have more news, notes and reaction from qualifying coming up soon.
Friday, 7:35pm CT – Here is the complete results from the 40th Annual Snowball Derby. The top 30 are locked into the show while the others will have to race their way into the show tomorrow evening in the qualifier races.
Cale Gale is the pole setter for the 40th Annual Snowball Derby.
Clay Rogers and Cale Gale talk before qualifying.
Ken McFarland was nervous before qualifying. His nerves calmed after his run, before he learned of his DQ.
Chris Gabehart doesn't know if he will come back tomorrow after his was disqualified in post-race tech.
Cale Gale's car looked fast on the track during practice and it showed in qualifying, taking the pole position for the Snowball Derby.
Jason Hogan wasn't able to get Kyle Busch's #51 into the field during qualifying, but might have a chance to race the car into the show on Saturday.
Friday, 11:00pm CT – That is it for us at the track tonight. We will back back at Five Flags Speedway in the morning with more from the 40th Annual Snowball Derby.
Friday, 10:55pm CT – Below is the official top-30 starters for the 40th Annual Snowball Derby as well as the drivers who didn't quite make the cut on qualifying day. On the list of drivers that didn't make it initially, Ken McFarland and Dale Little made it in the field via provisionals from Blizzard Series points. Also Clay Rogers is using the champion's provisional to become the 39th starter of the event. The remaining six positions will come from the two last-chance races as the top three from each transfer into the feature.
1.#83 Cale Gale 2.#22 Matt Hawkins 3.#54 Johnny Clark 4.#44 Gary Helton 5.#8 Cassisus Clark 6.#72 Eddie Mercer 7.#38H Josh Hamner 8.#86 Mike Fritts 9.#82 Grant Enfinger 10.#39 Ryan Sieg 11.#47 Brian Campbell 12.#10C Ryan Crane 13.#92 Jeff Choquette 14.#112 Augie Grill 15.#1M Tim Martin
#14 Ken McFarland; #99L Dale Little
#2 Clay Rodgers
Must Race Last Chance Races
Cecil Chunn, Richard Fincher, Ryan Foster, Steven Wallace, JR Roahrig, Corey Ruble, Kyle Busch/Jason Hogan, David Rodgers, Benny Gordon, Bobby Gill, Danny Bagwell, Roger Reuse, Trevor Sanborn, Stephan McCurlely, Stanley Smith, Matt Merrell, David Hole, Wayne Niedecken Jr., Adam Crawford, Dwayne Buggay, Justins Marks, John Webb, Kurt Jett, Trevor McKinley, Chris Gabehart
Chris Cotto celebrated in victory lane with Snow Ball the mascot.
James Ziniewicz found out that racing on his roof wasn't the quickest way around the track.