The Snowball Derby is a race known for finding the next young star in racing, even if it doesn’t involve a trip to victory lane at the end of 300 laps. Looking at the results of the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby, one can potentially find the next young star to come out of the state of Georgia.
At just 14 years old, Monroe, Georgia’s Jake Garcia became the youngest driver to ever score a podium finish in the Snowball Derby when he finished second in the biggest short track race in the country in just his second race behind the wheel of a Super Late Model.
The result even garnered a shout out from fellow Georgia native and NASCAR Cup Series star Chase Elliott, himself a two-time Snowball Derby champion.
Garcia qualified his way into the show via Friday night’s Country Pleasin’ Sausage Pole Night with a 15th-place effort. Throughout Monday night’s race, he remained mid-pack through the majority of the race, using pit strategy and attrition to slowly move his way to the front. He would cross the finish line in third, but was officially scored in second after Stephen Nasse was disqualified in post-race tech.
While on the frontstretch after the race, he was quick to thank everyone on his Ricky Turner-led team for a solid effort.
“I feel great, it was definitely a good team effort by everybody,” Garcia told Speed51.com. “Hopefully we can come back here and get another two spots.”
While he believed he had a car capable of running toward the front, Garcia could not envision the success he and his team would have in his first Snowball Derby attempt. He found himself on the outside front row for the final green-white-checkered restart after a major pileup, but would get passed by a hard-charging Travis Braden on the final lap for what proved to be the race win.
“I figured we would run up front, I thought we had a good, solid car,” he said. “I was trying to make it a good show for the fans, but I just couldn’t get it done. Hopefully we can get them next time.”
With the 2019 season over for the young driver, Garcia’s attention turns to 2020 and an enhanced Super Late Model schedule with Ricky Turner. It will be an important season for him as he continues to climb the ranks of the sport. He hopes the momentum gained from the Snowball Derby will carry over into a successful 2020 season.
“We’ll probably run some Super Late Model stuff and a little bit of Pro. About what we did this year but just more Super stuff. Next season will be a big season for me. We’ve got a lot of momentum, we definitely improved over the course of this year so hopefully we can make some big gains next year also.”
An on-demand replay of the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby can be viewed by clicking here.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51.com