The Snowball Derby is a race that Grant Enfinger circles on his calendar each and every year. Since making his first Derby start in 2003, the driver from Fairhope, Alabama had made 11 straight attempts at the race before missing last year’s version. Now a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner, Enfinger is set to return to the race with a vengeance during the 49th Annual Snowball Derby on December 1-4.
“I was pretty disappointed, that’s one of those races I try to make every year. It’s just one I always look forward to,” Enfinger told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I was definitely disappointed we weren’t able to go down there last year.”
Enfinger will make his return to the Snowball Derby driving for car owner/crew chief Gary Crooks. The two have worked together before and Enfinger believes that could go a long way towards taking home the Tom Dawson Trophy.
“I’m pretty pumped up about getting another shot there with Gary Crooks. He has really good equipment down there,” Enfinger stated. “Probably the best thing we have going for us is that I’ve worked with Gary before. We’ve got one race under our belt from a couple years ago and I think that’s an advantage, knowing your crew chief and knowing what I have on their end and what they have to work with on my end. Communication is such a big part of any form of racing and I feel like we have that this time. I’m really excited about it and hope we can make the most out of this opportunity.”
Make no mistake about it, Enfinger is putting in a full-fledged effort to win the biggest race in his home region. He’s already been at the track for two different testing sessions and plans to test again during the week leading up to the Snowball Derby.
“It’s so hard to practice when you come down to the Snowball, so what we’ve done so far is me and Gary tested one day down there this past Saturday, and then I stayed down there Monday and Tuesday to help Spencer (Gallagher) because he hasn’t made a whole lot of laps around Pensacola,” Enfinger explained.
“We’ll be back down there the Saturday before the race. The hardest part of the Snowball Derby is making it in on time on Friday night. It’s really hard to do qualifying runs when you’re there with 120 or 140 other cars. There’s 15 to 20 cars on the track at any given time, some of new tires on and some have old tires. It’s just really hard to give good feedback during the race weekend, so we try to go there ahead of time.”
As a driver who grew up near Pensacola on the Gulf Coast, Enfinger has developed a larger appreciation for the Snowball Derby and how much winning the race would mean. He has watched the race from the grandstands, competed in the race during the early days of his career and witnessed how much it has grown.
“Being so close to home and being one of those first big races I could be a part of, that definitely means a lot and would mean that much more if we were able to pull a win off Sunday,” Enfinger commented. “We were able to run second down there a couple times and had a lot of really good runs, but we’re looking for that checkered flag.”
Enfinger also recognizes just how tough the competition will be, and that’s what he likes most about the race.
“So much goes into that race. You’re getting everybody’s full-fledged effort,” he said. “It’s not just a race for anybody to come down there. If you are the one that goes home with that checkered flag, you’ve beaten everybody else at their best. That’s what draws myself to that race and everybody else I believe.”
At the age of 31, Enfinger may be considered by some as a veteran of the sport. While there’s no doubt that a Snowball Derby win would help his future and the prospects of competing at higher levels, that’s not what he’s focused on. For him, a Snowball Derby win is more personal.
“From a career standpoint, maybe it wouldn’t mean as much to you as some people think. But from a personal standpoint, it would definitely mean the world to me,” Enfinger said. “This is something I’ve tried for for a long time. I’ve run a bunch of them down there and from a personal standpoint it doesn’t get any bigger than this. That’s why we put so much effort into it every year. That’s why I was so disappointed why we weren’t able to run it last year. This is one of those big ones that I get pumped up each and every opportunity I get to do it.”
The 49th Annual Snowball Derby weekend kicks off on Wednesday, November 30 with the Cat Country/WEAR TV3 Green Flag Pit Party and Qualifying Order Draw Down.
Thursday, December 1 will see the Super Late Models take to the track for the first official Snowball Derby practice. The night will be highlighted by a 30-lap race for the Butler U-Pull-It Bombers and a 50-lap event for the Dock on the Beach Sportsmen division.
The top Snowball Derby starting spots will be set on Friday, December 2 during NASH FM 102.7 Pole Night. The Faith Chapel Super Stocks and the Modifieds will each run 50-lap features.
The Pro Late Models take center stage on Saturday, December 3 for the Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100. The 50-lap Last Chance Qualifier for the Snowball Derby and a 50-lap feature for the Beef O’Brady’s Pro Truck division will also run on Saturday night.
Then on Sunday, December 4 the green flag will fly over the 49th Annual Snowball Derby. The 300-lap race will begin at 2 p.m. CT.
For more information on the 49th Annual Snowball Derby weekend at Five Flags Speedway, visit www.snowballderby.com. All media credential requests and inquiries for the Snowball Derby can be sent to Pat Bryant at [email protected]
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-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com