Blizzard Series to Open April 11th at Five Flags Speedway 51Sports / Series PR
With a New Season On the Horizon, Defending Snowball Champ Grill Is an Early Blizzard Favorite
When Augie Grill pulled his winning #112 Super Late Model out of victory lane at Five Flags Speedway last December as the winner of the 40th Annual Snowball Derby, Super Late Model racing on the Gulf Coast was put away for another season. Grill had scored the biggest victory of his career in one of the most prestigious short track events in the country, but Super Late Model engines would not be heard for another couple of months at the historic Five Flags half-mile.
But now, the rumble of high-powered Super Late Models is about to return to Five Flags Speedway on Friday April 11th for the start of the 2008 Blizzard Series. Grill will join defending Blizzard Series Champion Scott Carlson and dozens of the South’s best Super Late Model drivers in the first of five new-look Blizzard Series events throughout 2008, events that will determine two guaranteed starters in the 41st Snowball Derby this December 4th through 7th.
“We’re excited about our opener,” said Tim Bryant, Promoter of Five Flags, the Blizzard Series and the Snowball Derby. “Typically it draws our biggest field of cars. Based on the guys that we’ve talked to, I believe we’ll have something in the mid-30s for entries in the opening race. We’re pretty excited about that, especially given today’s economic climate.
“One of the changes we’ve done this year is we’ve changed our races to 100 green flag laps. It worked so well for us in the Allen Turner Snowflake 100 last year. It just seemed like it made it a cleaner race in some ways. Also, where pit stops will still be important because it is a six-tire race and they’ll still be racing for track position, the lower-dollar teams that don’t necessarily travel with big pit crews can come in and get their two tires if need be and not risk going down a lap.”
Nobody is more excited for the first race of the 2008 season than Augie Grill. The last two times Grill left Five Flags, he had a winner’s trophy in hand. In addition to his Snowball Derby title last December, he also won the first Pro Late Model event of the 2008 season last month in a dramatic finish with fellow Southeastern Late Model standout Bubba Pollard.
“I had always hoped for a Snowball Derby win,” said Grill of Dolomite, Alabama. “We had always run well there at Pensacola, but we just always needed to get everything put together and have the right luck. That place has been one of the hardest places for me to finish the race. Luckily, the last two times we’ve been there, we were able to finish and it came with some pretty good success.”
While the top two points finishers at the end of the Blizzard Series season earn guaranteed starting spots in the 41st Snowball Derby, Grill is the only driver already locked into the field thanks to his Snowball title from 2007.
“It’d be pretty cool to win the Blizzard Series Championship, but luckily we [already] get the Past Champion’s Provisional too for the Derby,” added Grill. “I don’t know what it is, but it always seems that we’re able to qualify well for these Blizzard races. Every time I’ve been to the Snowball Derby, except for the first time, I’ve been in the teens, which is about a half-a-tenth away from not making the race. I’d like to improve on that, but just knowing that we’ll be in the field for sure and having something to fall back on makes me feel a little better.”
Of course, the title of “Snowball Derby Champion,” is still new to Grill, who has been a veteran of the Southeastern SLM ranks for several years and has worked along side his father, noted chassis builder Frankie Grill, even longer. Even though he has won the crown jewel of short track racing, his approach into the 2008 season is the same as it always has been.
“I’m still not used to it. It still doesn’t feel right. You can’t get a big head or you’ll start running bad. I still run every race like it’s my first one. I’m still trying to accomplish the same goals that I had in the first race I ever went to.”
Grill, his Blizzard Series comrades and the fans at Five Flags Speedway will be able to notice a plethora of new amenities at the family-friendly half-mile.
“Our racetrack is a work in progress,” said Bryant. “We didn’t take any time off during the winter. We’re installing some aluminum bleachers to replace some of our wooden bleachers. One of the things we’ve done for the fans this year is the addition of a “Dollar Diner” by our front gate. It’s a small concession stand where everything’s a buck. Any way that we can find to save some people some money and make things more economical for our racers and the people of our community, we’re going to do the best we can.”
To further emphasize the family-friendly atmosphere at Five Flags, the prices for the April 11th Blizzard Series opener remain affordable. Tickets are priced at just $15 for adults, $14 for Seniors and Military personnel, $5 for kids age 6-14 and children under five are admitted free.
In addition to the 100-green-flag-lap Blizzard Series opener, the Super Stocks, Sportsmen and Bombers will also hit the Five Flags half-mile.
The hot streat that Augie Grill started in the Snowball Derby of 2007 carries him into this year's Blizzard Series opener.