Trackside Now: 40th Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway - Thursday PM
The First Day of Practice for Snowball and Snowflake Cars; Bombers Racing Action   (click here for Thursday AM Trackside Now)
40th Annual Snowball Derby
Nov. 28th - Dec. 2nd
Five Flags Speedway
Pensacola, Florida
Thursday, 11:08pm CT – That concludes tonight's Trackside Now coverage from Five Flags Speedway.  We will be back Friday morning to continue coverage of the 40th Annual Snowball Derby here on

Thursday, 10:40pm CT – Michael Kitchen admitted that as the youngest of four boys growing up, he got beat up on quite a bit by his older siblings. But tonight, he turned the tables by beating his brother to the checkered flag to take the Snowball Bomber win.

“They used to pile up on him,” said a very happy Mama Kitchen about raising her boys. 
“I guess you can say it’s a little redemption,” admitted Michael while laughing with his brothers after his win.

“It’s the greatest feeling in the world to win and be with my family. To win a race, even if it’s just a Bomber race, means everything.”

Kitchen shared the moment in victory lane with his mom and dad and brother Pete (who finished second). Also in the picture was another brother, who is the crew chief and a fourth racing Kitchen who runs in the Pensacola Sportsman class. A true racing family indeed.

Thursday, 10:24pm CT – Michael Kitchen took the checkered flag first in the 30-lap Bomber feature.  Kitchen crossed the line ahead of Chad Roberts, Pete Kitchen, Brannon Fowler and Michael Johnson.

Thursday, 8:27pm CT – The heat race action for the Bombers and Sportsman cars are still happening here at Five Flags Speedway.  The fans have been enjoying the first races of the Snowball Derby weekend.

Thursday, 8:25pm CT – The Bomber that Bob Dillner was racing in tonight wasn't up to speed.  He attempted to make it into the feature, but the car just didn't have enough in it to transfer.

Thursday, 8:20pm CT – For complete Thursday practice times from all six sessions for the Snowball Derby Super Late Models and the Snowflake 100 Pro Late Models, click here for the list.

Thursday, 6:40pm CT – Qualifying is coming soon for the Bombers. Most of the Super late Model teams have packed up and left the track. Some have stayed to watch the Bomber and Sportsman races. Others have ventured down to Fast Eddies Fun Center for the annual "Snowball Showdown" go-kart race.

Thursday, 5:35pm CT – The Bombers have completed their practice.  While there were many close calls, there wasn't any major issues on the track. Speed Channel's Bob Dillner got his first laps in the #51 Bomber. Although he did have a few hair-raising moments, he passed some cars and escaped the session without damage.

Another round of Sportsman practice will take place shortly.

Thursday, 5:33pm CT – Here are the top 10 times for each division from the final practice session.  A complete listing of all practice speeds throughout the day will be coming soon so you can see where your favorite driver timed in throughout the day.

Super Late Models - Top 10 Practice Times  (session 6 of 6)
1.#31 Ryan Lawler (17.396)
2.#17 Chris Gabehart (17.429)
3.#83 Cale Gale (17.465)
4.#72 Eddie Mercer (17.495)
5.#66 Steven Wallace (17.515)
6.#39 Ryan Sieg (17.57)
7.#51 Kyle Busch (17.598)
8.#18 Hunter Robbins (17.608)
9.#99S Casey Smith (17.637)
10.#45 Dwayne Buggay (17.654)

Pro Late Models - Top 10 Practice Times  (session 6 of 6)
1.#4 Kyle Fowler (17.755)
2.#14 Brent Seeley (17.938)
3.#94 Mitch Cobb (17.945)
4.#44 Wes Burton (18.020)
5.#86 Jimmy Lang III (18.040)
6.#97 Jimmy Garmon (18.135)
7.#6 Brandon Bendele (18.138)
8.#43 Richard Johns (18.154)
9.#2 Daren "DJ" Vanderley (18.167)
10.#10 Ryan Crane (18.264)

Thursday, 5:21pm CT – Speed Channel's Bob Dillner (and co-owner), who is also celebrating a birthday today, will be racing a Bomber car tonight.  Dillner is driving a black #51 Bomber, and he along with the rest of the Bomber cars are making their way onto the track for their practice session.

Thursday, 5:18pm CT – Here is the top 10 times for each division from the 2:00pm practice time frame.  We will post the final round shortly, followed by a complete listing of all practice speeds throughout the day.

Super Late Models - Top 10 Practice Times  (session 5 of 6)
1.#84 Wayne Anderson (17.218)
2.#66 Steven Wallace (17.506)
3.#99S Casey Smith (17.545)
4.#82 Grant Enfinger (17.583)
5.#92 Jeff Choquette (17.603)
6.#24 JR Roahrig (17.656)
7.#99L Dale Little (17.669)
8.#67 Jeff Fultz (17.692)
9.#30 Dave Mader III (17.716)
10.#5 Bobby Gill (17.747)

Pro Late Models - Top 10 Practice Times  (session 5 of 6)
1.#96 Greg Davidson (17.768)
2.#43 Richard Johns (17.799)
3.#38 Shane Sawyer (17.846)
4.#40 Brad Webb (17.861)
5.#6 Brandon Bendele (17.936)
6.#97 Jimmy Garmon (17.967)
7.#44 Wes Burton (17.967)
8.#2 Daren Vanderley (18.009)
9.#0 David Hole (18.057)
10.#10 Ryan Crane (18.139)

Thursday, 5:09pm CT – The Sportsman cars are currently on the track for their practice, which will be followed by the Bomber cars.

Thursday, 4:41pm CT – Matt Merrell has help from Kevin Cywinski here at Pensacola, helping him try to make it into the Snowball Derby.  Merrell wasn’t planning on coming to the event until Cywinski, who has been successful here at Five Flags Speedway, made arrangements to be here to assist him.

Thursday, 4:30pm CT – Our pit reporters are filtering up some reports from the garage area.

After struggling with an ill-handling car in the early practice sessions, Andy Pugh enlisted the help of a fellow competitor to help solve the problems.  Cale Gale and the rest of the Mitch Smith-owned #33 team helped out Pugh, and by the end of the day’s practice sessions, Pugh reported that the car was a lot better in the corners.

Korey Ruble has been struggling with the car all day long.  “If we knew what was wrong with it, we would have fixed it by now.”

Five Flags Speedway is hard enough on tires if you have everything right, but things can go wrong in a hurry when you don’t.  Such was the case today with Jason Young’s #27 car.  After not being able to understand why the changes they were making were not helping the car’s handling, they discovered around mid day that the rear tires were switched, with the left rear tire on the right rear, and vice versa. 

Steven Davis feels like he has an awesome car for the race, and even quit a little bit early in the final practice session.

Thursday, 4:05pm CT – While the Super Late Models and Pro Late Models have completed their practice for the day, there is still plenty of racing action left here at the track. 

From 5:00pm until 6:00pm, the Bombers will take to the track for their practice.  The driver's meeeting for the Bombers and the Sportsman drivers will take place at 6:30pm.  At 7:00pm the prerace festivities will take place followed by the qualifying heats for both divisions, their B Mains and the 30-lap feature event for the Bombers.

According to the early unofficial count, there are 37 Bombers and over 20 Sportsman cars here at this time.

Thursday, 4:03pm CT – With the waving of the checkered flag, today's practice for the Snowball Derby and Snowflake 100 are complete.

We still have plenty of information to bring you this evening from the track, including notes from the pits and practice times, so make sure to stay tuned for more information coming shortly.

Thursday, 3:54pm CT – The safety crew has picked up the wrench and we are back green for the final moments of practice.

Thursday, 3:53pm CT – Throwing a wrench into the mix, literally, has slowed the action.  A wrench is sitting on the track between turns one and two, bringing out the yellow flag.

Thursday, 3:50pm CT – With just 10 minutes left in the practice session, the track is getting a bit wild.  There is a lot of close calls on the track as some drivers are trying to get their last minutes in before everything ends for the day.  The track is full with 15 cars and about 10 more waiting to go out.  Anywhere between one and three cars on average are dropping off the pace and into the pits every minute, so most of the drivers waiting right now will get out there, but a few might run out of time.

Thursday, 3:45pm CT – We have learned that most cars are going out on the track in practice today on old tires.  Some are attempting to hit the track with new tires for mock qualifying runs, but it is hard for the drivers to get a clean lap due to the amount of traffic on the track.

Gary St. Amant is one of the drivers running on old tires.  In fact, he told Matt Dillner that the tires are last year's tires.  St. Amant said he is going to bolt on some new tires.  "Now I am going to have some fun," said St. Amant with a grin.

Thursday, 3:42pm CT – More updates have come in from our pit reporters.

Steven Wallace told’s Matt Dillner that his #66 machine is real fast.  Wallace said they are going to make some changes on his car, but when asked what those changes would be, he said with a smile “I can’t tell you that.”

Tommy Praytor broke the transmission in his #28 Pro Late Model.

Matt Hawkins’ pit area looks like a ghost town.  His car is locked up in his rig and he hasn’t hit the track today for practice.

Jimmy Garmon’s crew has made repairs to his #97 Pro Late Model from the earlier spin and contact into the wall.  He is going back out to practice.

Thursday, 3:40pm CT – The cars are rolling again for their final practice of the day.  According to track officials earlier, they will stop practice at 4:00pm, so this means only 20 minutes are left in today's practice for the Snowball Derby and Snowflake 100 drivers.

Thursday, 3:31pm CT – The track is back silent again as the bottom of the hour break is taking place.  Once they get back going, it will be the final practice session for the day for the Super Late Models and Pro Late Models, which end at 4:00pm.

Thursday, 3:19pm CT – The pit reporters have been hard at work getting updates from various drivers during the practice sessions.

Benny Gordon is reporting that his team has been chasing his car all day.  They are going to “throw everything at it” according to Gordon to try to get it to turn in the corners.

Hunter Robbins’ team is currently sitting in the pit are changing the master cylinder.  Robbins waited to practice until the PM sessions, so he is missing some valuable track time, but earlier he said he was confident his car would be real good.

Augie Grill has two #112 cars at the track as he will attempt to make both the Snowball Derby and the Snowflake 100.  According to Grill, his Pro Late Model is great while the Super Late Model is good as they try to make it faster.

Dave Mader III has only completed two laps of practice at speed, but he is real fast.  Mader said he is going to go out and run five more laps and park it for the day.

Thursday, 3:10pm CT – The green flag is back out as practice has resumed.  We are getting a ton of reports from our pit reporters and will bring you updates shortly from the infield.

Thursday, 2:57pm CT – The yellow flag is out again for T. Wade Welch spinning his car again, this time in turn one.  The track officials decided to take this time to take their top of the hour break.

Thursday, 2:52pm CT – Along with some of the NASCAR drivers that are here to race, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Rick Crawford is here helping his son Adam try to get his #14 Super Late Model up to speed.

Thursday, 2:42pm CT – Cars are now circulating again here at Five Flags Speedway as the Super Late Model and Pro Late Model combined practice session continues.

Thursday, 2:38pm CT – The track received word that the funeral is winding down, so the teams are getting ready to resume practice.

Thursday, 2:35pm CT – Here is the top 10 times for each division from the 1:00pm practice time frame.  We are expecting to receive the full listing later today.

Super Late Models - Top 10 Practice Times  (session 4 of 6)
1.#66 Steven Wallace (17.671)
2.#03 Matt Merrell (17.674)
3.#112 Augie Grill (17.783)
4.#83 Cale Gale (17.829)
5.#17 Chris Gabehart (17.845)
6.#99S Casey Smith (17.870)
7.#98 Billy Tutchtone (17.877)
8.#18 Hunter Robbins (17.894)
9.#44 Gary Helton (17.918)
10.#51 Kyle Busch (17.965)

Pro Late Models - Top 10 Practice Times  (session 4 of 6)
1.#83 David Wilson (17.871)
2.#40 Taylor Satterfield (17.924)
3.#6 Brandon Bendele (17.980)
4.#44 Wes Burton (17.996)
5.#1 Stephan McCurley (18.015)
6.#47 Dakota Stroup (18.028)
7.#25 Brent Downey (18.036)
8.#44 Michael Pope (18.053)
9.#02 Matt Smith (18.065)
10.#108 Drew Brannon (18.088)

Thursday, 2:27pm CT – The track has checked with the funeral home next door.  They said the minute it is over they will let the track know.  According to track officials, the original indication was about a 40 minute time span, which means we should be going back green in practice is about 15 minutes.

Thursday, 2:25pm CT – Here is the top 10 times for each division from the 12:00pm practice time frame.  We are expecting to receive the full listing later today.

Super Late Models - Top 10 Practice Times  (session 3 of 6)
1.#31 Ryan Lawler (17.622)
2.#66 Steven Wallace (17.708)
3.#84 Wayne Anderson (17.730)
4.#54 Johnny Clark (17.741)
5.#21 Scott Carlson (17.783)
6.#51 Kyle Busch (17.823)
7.#112 Augie Grill (17.846)
8.#83 Cale Gale (17.857)
9.#11 Donald Long (17.890)
10.#47 Brian Campbell (17.917)

Pro Late Models - Top 10 Practice Times (session 3 of 6)
1.#23 Paul Kelly (17.822)
2.#0 David Hole (17.938)
3.#71 Brandon Kelley (17.968)
4.#44 Michael Pope (17.980)
5.#40 Taylor Satterfield (18.152)
6.#6 Brandon Bendele (18.178)
7.#51 Zach Stroupe (18.188)
8.#25 Brent Downey (18.225)
9.#10 Ryan Crane (18.265)
10.#86 Jimmy Lang (18.296)

Thursday, 2:25pm CT – Everything is still silent here at the speedway as the track awaits word from the funeral next door.

Thursday, 2:15pm CT – Here is the top 10 times for each division from the 11:00am practice time frame.  We are expecting to receive the full listing later today.

Super Late Models - Top 10 Practice Times (session 2 of 6)
1.#21 Scott Carlson (17.468)
2.#17 Chris Gabehart (17.527)
3.#54 Johnny Clark (17.629)
4.#72 Scott Hantz (17.637)
5.#84 Wayne Anderson (17.667)
6.#39 Ryan Sieg (17.707)
7.#10C Ryan Crane (17.725)
8.#47 Brian Campbell (17.808)
9.#29 Trevor Sandborn (17.810)
10.#38H Josh Hamner (17.815)

Pro Late Models - Top 10 Practice Times (session 2 of 6)
1.#0 David Hole (17.606)
2.#2 Daren Vanderley (17.948)
3.#25 Brent Downey (18.169)
4.#1 Stephan McCurley (18.194)
5.#47 Dakota Stroup (18.223)
6.#96 Greg Davidson (18.237)
7.#33 Cale Gale (18.285)
8.#39 Hal Martin (18.305)
9.#02 Matt Smith (18.423)
10.#44 Wes Burton (18.543)

Thursday, 2:02pm CT – The track has stopped the racing action for their normal track break, however they were just informed the funeral has just started next door.  It is unclear how long it will take at this time, but the track is in communication with the cemetary folks and when they are completed practice will resume.

Thursday, 1:46pm CT – The yellow flag waved once again for T. Wade Welch spinning his car in turn three.  He was able to drive it down pit road and we are back under the green flag.

Thursday, 1:42pm CT –'s Steve Neely caught up with Tim Baker after his hard wreck into the turn one wall.  Baker said he went into the turn he tried to steer it, but it did not respond.  He slammed on the brakes but couldn’t get stopped before slamming the wall.  While he said he was ok, his car is not as his Snowball Derby weekend is over early.

Neely also spoke to Jimmy Garmon after his spin.  Garmon said the car just snapped loose off turn four.  The car is damaged pretty good, but he is going to see if he can get it back out.  Garmon is one of the drivers that had rocker arm issues, so this was one of his first runs on the track today.

Thursday, 1:40pm CT – Cars are back on the track to continue practice.

Thursday, 1:35pm CT – Here is the top 10 times for each division from the 10:00am practice time frame.  We are expecting to receive the full listing later today.

Super Late Models - Top 10 Practice Times (session 1 of 6)
1.#92 Jeff Choquette (17.491)
2.#30 Dave Mader III (17.584)
3.#14 Ken McFarland (17.585)
4.#38H Josh Hamner (17.595)
5.#66 Steven Wallace (17.651)
6.#12 Justin Drawdy (17.656)
7.#31 Ryan Lawler (17.678)
8.#14 Adam Crawford (17.684)
9.#24 JR Roahrig (17.689)
10.#11 David Rodgers (17.718)

Pro Late Models - Top 10 Practice Times (session 1 of 6)
1.#40 Taylor Satterfield (17.841)
2.#4 Kyle Fowler (17.879)
3.#36 Keith Thorpe (17.904)
4.#33 Cale Gale (17.945)
5.#38 Shane Sawyer (17.998)
6.#96 Steven Davis (18.077)
7.#5 Chase Oliver (18.086)
8.#25 Brent Downey (18.122)
9.#94 Mitch Cobb (18.167)
10.#2 Daren Vanderley (18.182)

Thursday, 1:27pm CT – Since it is close to the bottom of the hour, the officials are going to use this as the break to clear the gates.  The cars have been stopped as the track officials are putting speedy dry on the track to soak up the oil before going back green.

Thursday, 1:24pm CT – The yellow has come out for Gary Greenwood’s #76 spinning on the backstretch.   He did not make contact with the wall.  According to track officials, he appears to be leaking oil.  His car has entered the pit area and his crew will check it out.

Thursday, 1:18pm CT – Jimmy Garmon's car has been removed from the front stretch and the green flag is back out.

Thursday, 1:13pm CT – The yellow is out again during the session as Jimmy Garmon has spun his #97 car on the front stretch, coming to a rest against the wall right before the entry to turn one.  His car is not moving on it’s own, so the wreckers are in the process of removing it so practice can once again resume.

Thursday, 1:09pm CT – T. Wade Welch has spun his #13 car on the backstretch.  He was able to continue under his own power.  The practice is once again under the green.

Thursday, 1:07pm CT – The cars are back on the track as practice has once again resumed.

Thursday, 12:53pm CT – The red flag is out on the track.  Tim Baker's #30 slammed the wall hard in turn one, coming to rest against the wall between turns one and two.  Word from the track is that Baker is ok and the track is working on getting the car picked up off the track so practice can resume.

Thursday, 12:47pm CT – Some drivers chose to sit out the first round of practice.  Hunter Robbins, Eddie Mercer's #72, Auggie Grill and Dave Mader's #30 didn't put their cars on the track for the AM practice, but plan to shake their cars down in the PM practice.  Brandon Carlson has yet to unload his Pro Late Model for practice.

Thursday, 12:40pm CT – The green flag for the second and final practice session for the Snowball Derby Super Late Models and the Snowflake 100 Pro Late Models has come out.  This session will last until 4:00pm today with five-minute breaks every half hour. 

We are also hearing the neighboring cemetery will hold a funeral service around the 2:00pm time frame, and at that time the track will go silent until the service is completed.

Thursday, 12:35pm CT – We are expecting to receive the full practice times later in day.  Once we have them, we will post them.

Thursday, 12:35pm CT – We have switched to the PM Trackside Now for Thursday.  For the AM information, click here's Matt Dillner and Steve Neely are in the pits while Jason Buckley sits at the keyboard posting the updates.
Ryan Lawler was the fastest Super Late Model in the 12:00pm practice session. (51 Sports Photo)
Hunter Robbins stands and watches the AM practice session.  He will hit the track in the PM session. (51 Sports Photo)
Pensacola expert Scott Carlson has been fast all day.
Jimmy Garmon went for a spin on the front stretch.  His car had to be pulled off the track.
Tim Baker was ok after a hard wreck in turn one, but his car is not as his weekend is over early.
World Crown winner Paul Kelly has been fast at Pensacola in his Pro Late Model.   (51 Sports)
Rick Crawford (white shirt) is working on his son Adam's car.
Josh Hamner got out of his car to help work under it during practice.   (51 Sports)
Getting down pit road is not that easy as it is really tight all around the facility.  (51 Sports photo)
Speed Channel's Bob Dillner wheels it down the frontstretch in practice. (51 Sports photo)
Matt Merrell showed up to race this weekend because Kevin Cywinski is in his pits helping him out
Jason Young’s #27 car wasn't driving very well, until the team realized they had the tires on in the wrong locations.
Augie Grill had two 112's in his pit area since he is attempting both races.
Tommy Praytor's tranny broke, it put a hole in the bell-housing.
Steven Wallace was fast but as you can see by this damage, had a few anxious moments in practice.
Eddie Mercer got some track time finally... only two laps.
Wayne Anderson didn't practice much, but he was the quickest of the day.
Role reversal! Zach Stroupe gets his car-owner Bob Dillner fitted in a Bomber car.
Danny Spence throws the white flag giving drivers one more lap of practice.
New England racer Cassius Clark decided late to come to the Derby.
Gary St. Amant ran all day with an un-lettered brand-new Five Star body on his Super Late Model.
The whole Kitchen family celebrated Michael's win in victory lane. (51 Sports photo)