SNOWBALL DERBY LEFTOVERS by Jeremy Troiano, Bob Dillner & Matt Dillner
All Of The Scoop From 300 Laps Of Wild Short Track Racing
MERCER HAS SPECIAL RIDE-ALONG FRIEND
If you looked close enough at Eddie Mercer's #72, you would have noticed that he has a special “ride-along” friend strapped into the right side of his car.
It was a little stuffed monkey.
“There is a tech official here at the track (Charlie Southard) that has been here for years and years and years,” said Mercer. “He has made a lot of personal sacrifices for the track. He is a little short guy named Charlie, but we call him 'tattoo.' He reminds you of the guy named Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize) that always yelled “the plane the plane” from (the TV show) Fantasy Island.
“He is a good, hard working and honest guy. He’s always out there talking to guys on the track. Anyway, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. He was having surgery and they were kinda keeping it quiet.
pretty happy. I think we had a shot to win the race, but I'm just glad I come here for the first time and know that I had a shot at it.
“I enjoyed it. Hopefully, we'll be back next year.”
PAIR OF TOP-10 RUNS PLEASE MCFARLAND, GOODSON
While they weren't threats for the win, two veteran drivers were able to keep their cars near the front of the field most of the night and finished off the 37th running of the Snowball Derby with top-10 runs.
However, Gentry had never competed with his Super Late Model at the annual Snowball Derby. This year, he made his first trip to Pensacola well worth it by finishing fifth.
“Right there at the end, I felt like we had a good top three car, but a lapped car got me driven all over the place,” said Gentry. “When I got under him, he chopped across the nose and knocked the toe in all out.
But to come out of here for the first time with a top five, I'm not going to complain. After everything we went through tonight, going to the rear about three times, I'm
The lucky monkey. (51 Photos)
“Well, I found out about it and went to the hospital the day he went in the day of the surgery. I brought him this little monkey. I said 'here is you’re good luck monkey.' He’s kept the monkey and has been going to chemo for post treatment. He takes his monkey with him everyday. Thankfully, he's been getting better. He says it is his lucky monkey.
“So he brought it to me and said he’d like me to carry it in the Snowball. So I’ve got it in the car. I’ve got a lot of reasons to win the race. That is just another.”
It must have proved to be a lucky monkey. Mercer finished second.
GENTRY PLEASED WITH FIRST SNOWBALL RUN
Randy Gentry has been racing for some time. He's been a regular in the NASCAR All Pro (now Southeast Series) as well as the USAR ProCup Series.
We hung around on the lead lap, which is good,” said Hal Godoson, who finished eighth. “We had four tires at the end and were back up to sixth. A lapped car then, the 18 car (Billy McGinnis), he’d been in the way all night long, got in there, got three-wide and I got stuck behind them. He was racing people that didn’t even need to be out there. We went from sixth to 10th or 11th. We came back then to… hell, I don’t know where we finished.
“This was probably the best Derby I’ve been to the way things were run,” added Goodson of his 2004 experience. “This is one of the toughest fields down here I've ever seen. There were good guys in the back and the front. Everyone is so close. You used to race all year and bring what you
had left down here. Now you can’t do that. You bring your best piece down here to even make the show.”
Ken McFarland over came a wreck in the very first practice session of last week's events to finish an impressive seventh.
“We tried to bide our time,” said McFarland. “We started so far back , we knew we were going to have to bide our time, but then again, we had to go too. We avoided a lot of stuff and saw a lot of stuff happen in front of us.
“I’m tickled to death. I’ve been down here in a ProCup car and didn’t run well and I’ve had my cars down here before and have never had any luck. I was really discouraged on myself and the race track.
“I knew if I could hold on my end, we could have a good run and we did.”
BIG TIME FAVORITE FALLS OUT EARLY
Randy Gentry finished fifth in his first Derby.
The car ran good, but being eight laps down, there ain’t no reason to be out there."
FLORIDA DRIVER DRAWDY HURT BY LONG GREEN RUN
Florida hotshot Justin Drawdy started fith in Saturday's race and was running in the top-four and looked to be a early favorite. However, his day just got worse and worse and he eventually finished 28th.
Mike Garvey's run in the 37th annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway wasn't quite what he had expected. The short track ace had steering problems drop him back far enough to call it a day early, leaving him with a finish of 33rd.
"We broke a heim joint," said Garvey. "The left front steering arm broke. I wanted to go out and just make some laps and make sure the car was OK. The first set of tires the car was real good. It was loose. It broke under caution. I was weaving under the cautions and it broke I was eight laps down and in there racing with guys on the lead lap, so I decided it was not worth it.
MIke Garvey's car had problems early and he just pulled it off as to stay out of everyone's way.
“We got lost with pit strategy,” said Drawdy. “We took two tires around lap 60. There were quite a few cautions there around lap 120 or so, so we figured we’d come in again around lap 140, but it stayed green for almost 60 laps after that and that got us down.
“We had a lot of fresh tires left for the end of the race. It just went way too long under green. We had a whole new set of tires set for the end. Then we got our lap back, but when we did, the throttle hung. We had to pull it in because it broke by throttle linkage.
“It is frustrating to be down a couple laps because early in the race, we were running fourth there and we knew we
had a great car. There is nothing you can do about it though. We were just waiting for a caution. We didn’t have the best car. We had maybe a top-five car.”
HANTZ HAS TWO LONG TRIPS FOR WRECKED CAR
“We put a few mile son the hauler these last two weeks. Better luck next year I guess. It is disappointing thought, because they jacked around with the rules all week. We basically went back home and rebuilt the car to around the rules. We had a decent car. Better luck next year though.”
NO DOUBLE DIPPING FOR DAVID HOLE
David Hole was put into a predicitment last week when the Derby was rained out. Coming off of his Snowflake 100 win, Hole was scheduled to be in New York City with his family for a family vacation last week. Instead, he had to cut the trip short to fly back down and try to make it a doulbe dip weekend by winning the Derby as well.
Scott Hantz went home to Indiana with a wrecked racecar after last week's Snowflake 100. He left Saturday on another trip back to Indiana with yet another wrecked race car, after getting tagged and put into the wall on lap 119 during the Derby.
“I don’t know. Everyone checked up and I got hit from behind. That was all there was to it,” said Hantz of his accident. “I rear ended Hal Goodson and Stanley Smith got into me. It was like Saturday night last week (referring to the Snowflake race)
Scott Hantz gets out of his wrecked race car.
It didn't quite happen.
Hole was involved in a accident with several cars near the midpoint of the race, resulting in damage that knocked him out of the running.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Hole. “Everyone was jacked up in front of me. I saw smoke and cars spinning. I hit my father in law (Billy McGinnis). I bent my spindle and I was through.
“The first 100 laps, I was just riding and staying in the top five. The second 100 laps my tires just weren’t there. The
stagger opened up too much. I was waiting for a caution to come out, unfortunately I was in the caution I needed.
“I just need some luck here. That is all I need. I always have good cars here, I just can’t seem to finish it. We’ll come back next year. But hey, I’m still excited from the Snowflake win. I guess to win one of two isn’t bad.”
NOT DRIVING, HOGAN GETS THE TROPHY?
Jason Hogan was seen walking through the pits with the Snowball Derby trophy on Saturday night. How is that? He didn't win. Hell, he wasn't even driving!
“I’m going to take it home and tell everyone I won the Snowball Derby,” joked Hogan, who actually was a member of the winning Richie Wauters #5 team during the Derby.
“I pretty much sat on the pit box with Richie and tried to keep Steve calm. Frank (Bolter) did a good job spotting. If I saw something that might help, I told Richie and he would tell Steve. It helps having a driver there knowing what is going on with the car.”
Hogan didn't earn this trophy.
But that wasn't all Hogan was doing.
“I was sweeping, I was carrying the gas can. Heck, who does not want a driver that does it all.”