Wednesday, 6:04pm Central Time - Tune in to www.racetalkradio.com for Speed 51 Radio, live from Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. Click on the LISTEN NOW link to listen live online.
We will conclude our Trackside Now coverage for the day and see you all tomorrow with more from Five Flags Speedway.
Wednesday, 5:50pm Central Time - How about two radio shows at once. BDI Racing owner and SPEED commentator Bob Dillner (and Speed51.com co-owner) is doing a local radio program prior to the Speed 51 Radio program.
Wednesday, 5:45pm Central Time - We are 15 minutes away from the start of the Speed 51 Radio show on RaceTalkRadio.com. Who will be on the show?
- Eddie Mercer
- Jeff Fultz
- Hunter Robbins
- Johanna Long
- John Wes Townley
There will be loads of Derby talk.
Wednesday, 5:30pm Central Time - As tech has closed for the day, nightfall has taken over here at Five Flags Speedway. Drivers and teams are hanging out down in the pit area for the 5th Annual CAT COUNTRY/WEAR-TV 3 Green Flag Party.
Wednesday, 5:00pm Central Time - We are one hour away from the start of the Speed 51 Radio show, live from Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida, on www.racetalkradio.com. Tonight will be filled with Snowball Derby discussion as well as guests Johanna Long, Hunter Robbins and a special guest that you will have to tune in for.
Wednesday, 4:50pm Central Time - More notes from the pit area:
We know of at least one person who has been following along with Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage of sign-in day at the 41st Annual Snowball Derby – Bobby Gill. After we reported that Gary St. Amant had a little hiccup regarding tires in the tech line, Gill gave St. Amant a call on his cell phone to rib him about the incident, telling St. Amant, “I read about your troubles on the Internet!”
NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Mike Bliss pulled into the infield here at Five Flags Speedway late this afternoon. He’s here to cheer on his teammate Eddie Mercer – who also drives for car owner James Finch.
The #5 Victor Ford owned by Richie Wauters has been a familiar sight at Snowball Derby's past. Everyone from Steve Wallace to JR Norris to Kyle Busch has driven for the team. This year, occasional NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series entrant Shane Seig is wheeling the car for the 41st running of the Snowball Derby.
Sitting on an open trailer across the road from Five Flags Speedway is something a bit out of place – an ISCARS Dash car belonging to Danny Bagwell. We’re not quite sure why it is there…perhaps it is for sale….or maybe it will be part of a showcar appearance this week. We are fairly certain though that it wouldn’t pass the muster with Ricky Brooks and the Five Flags tech crew if it decided to masquerade as a Super Late Model.
Wednesday, 4:25pm Central Time - The tech area continues to be busy as some cars are being presented for multiple times for pre-practice clearance. The line is getting shorter though and some teams have already loaded their cars back into their haulers for the day.
Wednesday, 4:20pm Central Time - Drew Brannon has a big name helping him this weekend. Butch Miller will serve as Brannon's crew chief for this weekend. If everything goes well, you might see the Miller-Brannon combination during the 2009 racing season.
Wednesday, 4:15pm Central Time - We have our first official car count for the Snowball Derby. A total of 54 cars have signed up to roll through tech today. We know that Augie Grill will be here at some point to defend his Snowball Derby title so that makes a total of 55 Super Late Models attempting to qualify for the 41st Annual Snowball Derby.
There could be a few drivers who join us tomorrow or maybe even as late as Friday, but 55 looks to be our number.
As for the Pro Late Model number, we have been told by track officials that there are well over 60 cars on site for the Allen Turner Snowflake 100.
Wednesday, 3:00pm Central Time - The tech area was expected to be the hot spot today, and already it has made some news. Many cars have had to go back through the line to fix various things, including two drivers that had an issue with soaked tires.
Stephan McCurley, who was the first driver in line to the tech station, was caught by the sniffer on a tire. McCurley said their ATV was just topped off with fuel and gas had spilled out of it onto the whole floor of their hauler. That got on the tires and that is what he said the sniffer caught.
Gary St. Amant was also nailed with soaked tires, but it wasn't an accident. St. Amant told us that after wrecking out of last year's Derby, he had a bunch of unused tires. After a year of sitting, the tires get hard, so to make them softer and emulate current new-tire conditions, they softened up the tires. The team was only going to use the tires during the testing here at the track and not in racing conditions.
Last year, John Webb was escorted off the premises for being caught with soaked tires, but that was before the Last Chance race on Saturday, not on the pre-tech day, so neither today has been asked to leave for the weekend. Instead, they had to go back through the long tech line and present their cars again.
Also, we ran into Taylor Satterfield as he was sitting in line for tech. He said last year he had to present his car three times for tech inspection, so this year he was hoping for the one and done, because waiting in the tech line isn't the most entertaining thing to do here at Five Flags Speedway.
Wednesday, 2:45pm Central Time - The big buzz around the pit area is the possibility of rain here tomorrow. Looking at the radar, there is a 40-percent chance of rain. Tomorrow is really only a practice day, but with nearly 100 cars in the pits, the loss of any practice time could hurt several drivers.
Guys like Donnie Wilson and Josh Hamner would be fine with a wash out. Both drivers have had several laps around Five Flags Speedway this season. Other guys like Jeff Choquette said they would be in a bit of trouble if we lost a day of testing. Choquette was here on Monday testing and said he learned what not to do with his car this weekend.
Pro Late Model drivers like Bubba Pollard and Dakota Stroup feel that rain would not really hurt there chances at making the field.
There are a lot people praying in the pits and there will be a lot of eyes on the skies when day breaks tomorrow.
Wednesday, 2:50pm Central Time - Paging Augie Grill ... Augie Grill, please report to the track. The local racer and defending Snowball Derby champ isn't here, but do not worry, he will race this weekend. Many times Grill doesn't show up on the Wednesday tech day, but arrives Thursday.
We hear that just about every expected driver is here (minus a few that have already let the track know they will not be making the trip here this weekend), except Grill, so Tim Bryant was going to contact Grill to get a representative to come down and draw for his qualifying position.
Wednesday, 2:30pm Central Time - Tim Bryant has announced that the Snowball Derby qualifying draw will now occur today at 3:00PM to get that out of the way and make room for more on-track activities tomorrow. The Snowflake qualifying draw will still take place tomorrow at approximately 8:30am prior to the driver's meeting.
Wednesday, 2:00pm Central Time - What do some drivers do while waiting in the tech line? Justin Wakefield was checking the PASS South Super Late Model Series official site on a cell phone (courtesy of Speed51.com's Jason Buckley) as an article appeared on the site as top story about his 2008 racing season.
Wednesday, 1:00pm Central Time - Several cars that are here this weekend have a simple “78” decal displayed somewhere. That is in honor of the late Charlie Bradberry, who won a thrilling Snowball Derby in 2003. Bradberry considered Five Flags as one of his home tracks and was one of the most popular drivers in the entire pit area. The popular young driver, who had made starts in the NASCAR Busch (Nationwide) Series and NASCAR Truck Series, had a bright future ahead of him, but lost his life in a traffic wreck near his Alabama home and race shop. His absence is still very much felt at the track.
Wednesday, 12:45pm Central Time - The biggest smile in the pit area today is probably the one on Eddie Mercer’s face. The 2005 Snowball Derby is a local racer whose racecar is kept just a short drive from the track. To Mercer, Derby time is his Christmas every year.
“I love this place and I love this race,” said Mercer.
Mercer’s car won’t be sporting its familiar #72 on the same this year. Instead, it features the same paint scheme that is seen on the #1 Phoenix Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series entry. It also shares the same car owner – James Finch, who is a longtime friend of Mercer’s and has also owned cars at every level of the sport from dirt short tracks to the NASCAR Cup Series.
“He is the greatest car owner in all of racing,” said Mercer. “There isn’t anything in racing that he doesn’t touch.”
Wednesday, 12:30pm Central Time - This year’s Blizzard Series champion Josh Hamner has cleared technical inspection with his Super Late Model “with flying colors”. Normally, that wouldn’t be newsworthy, but this is Five Flags Speedway where the Ricky Brooks-led technical inspection crew is very thorough…to say the least.
Wednesday, 12:15pm Central Time - A few notes from the pits:
The backside of pit road is packed with cars as the dash to get through tech has begun. Some drivers like Bubba Pollard said they had no intensions of battling the long tech lines today. They plan to roll on through tech on Thursday morning.
Jason Hogan is here working with the David Hole Super Late Model entry. Hogan qualified the Kyle Busch Super Late Model entry a year ago before being disqualified after the last chance race.
Teams were racing so hard to get in the tech line that some drivers forgot key elements to bring to tech. Kyle Busch development driver Alex Haase forgot his helmet in the truck. Fortunately he was back a bit in the line so the mistake was a minor one.
Wednesday, 11:35am Central Time - With a time of one minute and 10 seconds after the tech area was open, Stephan McCurley's Snowball Super Late Model was the first car to make it to the tech area. Jack Landis' crew got his car there third overall, but first for the Snowflake cars.
Neither driver gets an award for getting to the tech line first, but both will be rewarded with not having to wait in a long line to get teched, and both get a mention on Speed51.com.
Wednesday, 11:25am Central Time - We just opened up the new Speed51.com Snowball Derby discussion forum at Motorsports Lounge, and our first question has come in from "chadden24", who wanted to know if someone will be providing video coverage for purchase of the 41st Annual Snowball Derby. We checked with Tim Bryant here at the track. He said that Ted Baber Video Productions will be here recording the event. For information on the videos, contact Ted Baber at 850-458-2501 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will check in on the forum throughout the weekend, and if possible, answer some questions here or there that we see. We might not be able to get to them all, but we will do what we can. Click here for the forum.
Wednesday, 11:20am Central Time - The call has gone out to the drivers and teams: the tech station is now open. David Pavlock barely could get the words out of his mouth over the PA system before teams were dropping their hauler gates to unload their cars.
Who will be the first Snowball and Snowflake cars to the tech area? We will have the "winners" of first to tech soon.
Wednesday, 11:05am Central Time - The last few haulers are making their way into the track, so we are moments away from the next big race of the day: the tech run. Last year, when they were given the green light, teams dropped their hauler's back gate, quickly unloaded their cars and were pushing their cars in a fast trot down to the tech area, trying to beat the long lines that will form. Some last year even had their cars all unstrapped inside their rigs so they could get it out as quick as possible.
This morning, we have already seen some rigs with their back gate cracked open a bit, ready for the call on the PA that it is "go time" to the tech area.
Wednesday, 10:45am Central Time - Speed51.com and MotorsportsLounge.com have opened up a discussion forum specifically for the Snowball Derby. Visit the link at the top of the Trackside Now coverage throughout the weekend to discuss and interact with fans across the country and world, or click here. The forum will stay open after the event for discussion throughout the coming off season and 2009, leading up to the 42nd Annual Snowball Derby.
Wednesday, 10:13am Central Time - As of 10:10am, we have seen 55 haulers pull into the pit area. The parking lot is still full of haulers waiting to head into the infield of the half-mile track.
Wednesday, 09:40am Central Time - Five Flags Speedway tech man Ricky Brooks told Speed51.com "It’s amazing this thing (the Snowball Derby) keeps getting bigger and bigger. We’re going to have a lot of fun this weekend." Brooks also told us that he is expecting upward to 50 Modifieds for their race on Friday night. That, along with the expected 140 Late Models, should make pit road a very crowded place.
Wednesday, 09:15am Central Time - As things happen throughout the day here at the track, we will provide periodic updates of who is here, what is happening and all of the news from Five Flags Speedway.
Wednesday, 09:10am Central Time - Of note for our East Coast viewers (including Mod standout Ted Christopher), Five Flags Speedway is in the Central Time zone, so everything will be one hour different from what you are used to.
Wednesday, 09:05am Central Time - With a "now hear this" announcement from David Pavlock, who has been announcing at Five Flags Speedway for about 35 years, Sammy McMullen's hauler is the first rig to pull into the track facility, which is fitting as the racer is from right here in Pensacola.
Pavlock will be announcing every rig coming into the track this morning, or at least as many as he can. Many rigs do not have indentification on the side, so he is going to rely on track workers on the back stretch to call in who is making it into the track.
Wednesday, 09:03am Central Time - The call has gone out to the drivers to get to their vehicles, but not the guys that will be racing around the track this weekend. The gates are open and the haulers are making their way into the track. Who will be the first driver in? Stay tuned.
Wednesday, 09:00am Central Time - Good morning from Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida, for the 41st Annual Snowball Derby. The whole Speed51.com crew is here this weekend to provide blanket coverage of the action on and off the track this week.
Even though there will not be action on the track itself today, there will be plenty of action here at the track as teams get parked inside the track this AM as well as going through tech and the 5th Annual CAT COUNTRY/WEAR-TV 3 Green Flag Party.
Here is the schedule for today:
9:00 AM Rig Parking
11:00 AM-5:00 PM Tech Open
5:00 PM-9:00 PM 5th Annual CAT COUNTRY/WEAR-TV 3 Green Flag Party
(Autographs~ Food~ Beverages~ Entertainment)
For the complete index of the Speed51.com Snowball Derby coverage, click here.