As summer hits the Sunshine State this week, the focus of the upcoming Blizzard Series race is not the weather, but a change in the pit stop procedure. For years, the Blizzard races would feature an optional pit stop for two tires at any point during the event. However, with tough economic times track officials at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida have decided to institute a halfway break instead of allowing live pit stop, in an effort to aid the teams who can’t produce a full pit crew.
“It’s definitely going to change the races in a lot of different ways,” said point leader Bubba Pollard. “It’s still going to be the same old Five Flags, but we were big fans of the pit stops and that type of racing. I know the fans enjoy it, but now we’re going to have to make up for it on the track and not in the pits.”
Not all drivers see it the same way, Mike Garvey who’s returned to the Late Model scene as a driver this season, understands the efforts of the track.
“It’s fine with me. As long as they police it right it’ll work,” said Garvey. “It’s cheaper for the racers because they don’t have to bring a full pit crew which can get pretty costly. It’s really tough to field a full team with these tough economic times, I think it will work.”
Over the years, the live pit stop has made the Blizzard Series very exciting and very unpredictable. In recent years guys like Ryan Sieg, Casey Smith, Eddie Mercer and several others have lost races in the pits after having been in the lead.
“We won a race earlier this because of some good pit strategy and we have lost a few races thanks to the pit stops,” added Pollard. “We like the element of the live stop because to win you have to be at your best.”
Garvey also offered a reminder to those who are missing the live pit stops.
“It’s so hard to do the live pit stops for the extra races,” added Garvey. “It’s already expensive to race these cars and fans will still get to see live stops at the Snowball Derby.”
Lost in the shuffle of the pit stop story, is the point battle we have shaping up on in the Blizzard Series and in the Gulf Coast Championship Series. Chase Elliott, winner of the last race at Five Flags Speedway, trail Bubba Pollard by only two points heading into the USA Digital 100 on Friday night. Defending Blizzard Series Champion Johanna Long is lurking in third spot and heads into Pensacola riding momentum.
Action gets underway with practice at 4pm for the Super Late Models and Features starting at 8pm. In addition to the Super Late Models the Super Stocks, Sportsman and Bombers will be on the racing cars this Friday night.
For more information about Five Flags Speedway, the USA Digital 100 or the 43rd Annual Snowball Derby, please visit www.5flagsspeedway.com or contact the track by calling (850) 944-8400.