Picking a winner.
We do it all the time when we go to the track. You're sitting with your significant other, your buddies or your girlfriends and someone will ask, “Who is going to win?” You all take turns picking drivers for various reasons. Maybe because he's got a cool name or the car they drive looks real sharp. Maybe it is someone who you've seen win before. Maybe you are impressed with what they did in practice. It's all a part of the fun, but when it comes to the Snowball Derby how can you pick a winner? There are just so many great drivers assembled at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida for this race.
Looking back through the years, you can see that it is truly a hard thing to do.
In 2009, Kyle Busch went to victory lane, but several stories played into the race for the other contenders like Eddie Mercer finishing the race with a set of tires still left in the pits, the fact that Augie Grill was taken out early in a wreck, that Casey Smith had problems on a pit stop after leading and Jeff Choquette got caught in a wreck. All were strong, but none were dealt the winning hand.
Looking back through the prior years we see more of the same.
In 2008, Brian Ickler crossed the finish line first, but a tech infraction left Augie Grill the winner.
In 2007, Augie Grill took control when the late Matt Hawkins was sent to the rear for making contact with Dave Mader III. Hawkins got back to second after having the dominant car of the day, but Grill won.
In 2006, Clay Rogers crossed the line in third and left Pensacola, Florida with the winner's trophy. Both the race winner Johnny Brazier and Bobby Gill were tossed out of the race for tech infractions.
In 2005, Eddie Mercer got dealt the good hand as he dodged wrecks and scored the win, his first Snowball Derby triumph after several years of close calls and bad luck.
The race is filled with interesting moments, cars without hoods, scoring mishaps, fuel mileage wins, pit stop strategies, wins from the pole, wins from the rear, last lap passes, photo finishes and much more other things have changed the outcome of the event.
There are way too many variables to the race, the weekend, and far too many chances to make mistakes to bet the farm on the Derby. If we went by paper right now then we should just call off the race and send the check and trophy to Dawsonville, Georgia.
However, that's why it's 300 laps and that's why it's the Snowball Derby.
This year's staff will take a shot in the dark at picking the winner and you can do the same by going over to our 51 Facebook Feed page at Facebook.com/speed51 and tell us who you think is going to win and why. In the meantime enjoy our picks.
51 Staff Predictions: 43rd Annual Snowball Derby
“Mike Garvey is my pick for the Derby. He has been close so many times in the past, but this year I think it will finally be his year.”
“At first, I was going to pick veteran Jeff Fultz or Landon Cassill in Gary St. Amant's car, but it's so hard to ignore one name while scrolling through the Snowball entry list. Mike Garvey has so much on his racing resume. He is missing one thing... a Snowball Derby win. I spoke with him on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series grid at Martinsville Speedway this fall and he made it very clear how important the Derby was to him and how bad he wanted to win it. I predict Garvey will finally get that elusive win this year.”
Matt “Duke” Kentfield
“Mike Garvey is ready to win this race. It would cap off a great career and it would be a highlight for his car owner and long-time Five Flags Speedway supporter Tracy Goodson.”
Elgin “Stat Boy” Traylor
“The winning car at this year's Snowball Derby will come from the GARC stables, but it won't be Chase Elliott, it won't be Augie Grill. In fact most people might not pick Donnie Wilson as a winner in the Snowball Derby, but he is due. Wilson led both the Winchester 400 and the World Crown 300 before having trouble. On Sunday, all the pieces will come together.”
“Jeff Fultz - Maybe he isn't the biggest name entered for this year's Snowball Derby, but he is one of the most accomplished drivers entered. While his Blizzard Series stats haven't been the greatest this past year, some of that could be attributed to trying new things in preparation of the Derby. He's didn't make this race last year and has a lot to prove. A recent runner-up finish in the World Crown 300 at Gresham Motorsports Park (GA) provides plenty of momentum.”
“Chase Elliott - The kid is super smooth and logged a lot of laps this year at Five Flags Speedway and that's why he will be the 2010 Snowball Derby champion.”
“Chase Elliott will take the win at the 43rd Snowball Derby. His 2010 season couldn't be much better, but a win at the Snowball will make it just that.”
Ally “New Girl” Fulson
“Chase Elliott - He's got a strong history at Five Flags and with the momentum he's got on his side and the Ford power under his hood I think this is the year for the youngest Derby winner ever.”
“Chase Elliott has all the numbers going for him this year and I think he will cap it off with a Snowball Derby win.”
“Ross Kenseth. Midwest drivers are the most talented. Plus, he is one of the smartest drivers. Its very likely he will survive and be around at the end of 300 laps.”