Sterling Heights, MI (Thursday, December 5, 2019) - It’s that time of year, when race fans have already had enough of the chilly temperatures and, depending where you live, maybe some of the white stuff as well. This weekend is the chance to maybe take a little weekend getaway, as Snowball Derby week has arrived at the 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. Fifty-Eight of the top late model drivers, anywhere to be found, are pre-entered and ready to battle it out for 300 laps, in what most agree is the top Late Model race in the country.
The Derby field this season is a little different, as only two drivers currently entered have ever won the event. Former NASCAR veteran Rich Bickle, who many would say is probably past his prime, leads the way with 5 Derby victories. The only other driver in the field that has taken home the checkers in this marquee event is Hayden, Alabama’s, Augie Grill. Grill notched back-to-back Snowball Derby victories in 2007 and 2008, and could put himself in second-place alone behind Bickle: if he can find his way to victory lane. Not even Bubba Pollard, Harrison Burton, Stephen Nasse, or Chandler Smith have figured out how to park it in Victory Lane at the Derby.
A handful of drivers typically found racing in the Michigan area are looking to put their name on the trophy for the first time. Nunica, Michigan’s Johnny VanDoorn, who has
already added the Redbud 400 and the Glass City 200 to his resume in 2019, would like nothing more than to pick up his first Snowball Derby win. Carson Hocevar, the youngster from Portage, Michigan, who made 2 starts this season in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, has also made his way to Pensacola in an attempt to grab the big prize. Allegan’s Tim Curry was also listed on the pre-entry list, even though he has not competed regularly in a Late Model recently; and a late add to the already impressive field, Birch Run’s Dan Leeck. Leeck notched his second JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Season Championship in 2019 while competing in the Winchester 100, and has now made his way to the Florida panhandle to throw his hat into the ring.
This years’ edition has the makings of a great one. In three days, most of the racing-world will be watching, as the best in late model racing, scratch and claw their way, for a chance at a victory in the 52nd Running of the Snowball Derby.
Hear more thoughts from Rich Frantz during Horsepower Happenings’ Here’s The Deal segment, every Monday night at www.horsepowerhappenings.com. Listen to past episodes that include guests such as Johnny VanDoorn, Carson Hocevar, and latest guest, Jack Dossey III.
For more information on the 52nd running of the Snowball Derby, log onto www.5flagsspeedway.com.
Story - Rich Frantz, Motor City Racing Promotions
Photos - Jim DenHamer, Kevtron Media