2010 has already been a big year for Ryan Blaney. The 16-year-old Super Late Model pilot won his first PASS South race…and then his second…and then his third. He also won in CRA action at Hickory Motor Speedway. When all of the points for the season were tallied up, Blaney also found himself as the runner-up in the PASS South standings and the champion of the CRA Southern Six Pack Series.
But the year isn't over yet for Blaney. As accomplished as those achievements are, he can now measure his talents against the best of the Super Late Model world by entering his first Snowball Derby - the 43rd Annual running of the storied event to be held from December 1st-5th at Pensacola, Florida's Five Flags Speedway, where Blaney finished a solid sixth in last year's undercard event, the Snowflake 100.
“I am really excited about the Snowball Derby,” said Blaney. “We ran the Snowflake 100 last year and had a really good run. I have always wanted to run the Derby, but we just haven't been ready for it. My Dad and I have talked about it the last few years, so this year we are going to do it.”
While Blaney is used to running 100 and 150 lap feature events, the Derby is made up of 300 circuits around the Five Flags track. That changes things greatly, and will give him plenty of valuable new experiences.
“It's a longer race and you have live pit stops, so all those things have to be thought about before you can head to Florida.”
And racing against some of the best Super Late Model drivers and teams from across the land is also something that Blaney is eagerly awaiting.
“I am really looking forward to running against the KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) cars, Ross Kenseth, Chase Elliott, Augie Grill and so on. If you can run well against that crowd then you know you are doing all right. You really find out how good you are and how good your stuff is just by making the race. Most people that you race against down there run a series or a tour which has a few good guys and when you get the best of the best together in one place for this huge event then you have to be at your best or you will go home.
“As a Derby rookie I want to go down there and run well. Ross Kenseth went there last year and put the car on the outside of the front row and turned some heads. Ross is so good at adapting to track and it amazes me how he can change up so quickly. It's hard to do that and it's hard to do it at Five Flags. I hope we can do something similar to that. It's really a matter of watching what other people do. I try to see how others get around the track and what lane they use to be fast in. Jamie (Rouleau), my crew chief, helps me find the line so we can start working on making the car better. I have never raced a Super Late Model at Pensacola so it will be interesting to see how different it is for us. The plan is save your stuff for 200, 250 laps and be there at the end. Staying out of trouble is key and then you can be in the mix for the win.”
The 43rd Annual Snowball Derby weekend kicks off on Wednesday, December 1st, with the Cat Country/WEAR TV3 Free Green Flag Party, where fans can meet their favorite drivers on the Five Flags asphalt. On-track action kicks off on Thursday, December 2nd, with practice for the Snowball Derby and Snowflake 100 cars, as well as features for the Five Flags Bomber and Sportsman divisions. Friday is qualifying day for the Snowball Derby cars, while the Pro Late Models will get more practice and the Super Stocks and Modified feature events.
The Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100 will go green on Saturday, December 4th, along with last-chance qualifying races for the Snowball Derby. Then on Sunday, the green flag will wave for the 43rd Annual Snowball Derby.
For more information on the 43rd Annual Snowball Derby, contact Five Flags Speedway by calling (850) 944-8400 and be sure to visit www.snowballderby.com and www.fiveflagsspeedway.com.