Coming from just across the Alabama border, Connor Okrzesik considers Pensacola, Florida’s Five Flags Speedway their home track away from home, with the 17-year-old driver logging his fair share of laps at the track in his young Late Model career. For the past few years, both the Snowball Derby and Snowflake 100 have become familiar destinations for the No. 14 team, giving Okrzesik great goals to stride for during the 51st Annual Snowball Derby.
After running double-duty with both the Super and Pro Late Models in both December races the past two seasons, Okrzesik is ready for take three in 2018 on the Gulf Coast. Once again, they are taking all the time they can to prepare.
“We’ve been really busy busting our tails to get this car ready, actually both cars ready for the Snowflake 100 and the Snowball Derby. We are going to do the same thing we did last year and the year before, running double duty,” Okrzesik told Speed51.com “Hopefully we can have some better luck then in the past. It’s hard to know what to expect, but hopefully we’re going to have at least one car to win, but you never know.”
Following a shaky start to 2018, the 14 squad has steadily improved, with Okrzesik claiming a Pro Late Model win at Montgomery Motor Speedway in July and a Mobile 300 runner-up with his Super Late Model most recently. He is especially happy with his race cars that never got a chance to prove themselves in the cancelled All American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
“Absolutely, even when Nashville got cancelled, we knew we were really good after practice and qualifying. So we want to take that momentum from Mobile and Nashville to Pensacola.”
While bad luck has left its marks in both Super and Pro Late Model competition throughout the year at Five Flags, Okrzesik is satisfied with how things have been overall.
“It could have been better, stuff happens, we got wrecked a couple of times. But for the most part, it has been pretty good to us, we’ve got some good race cars that have been great on the long runs all year.”
Okrzesik knows that in order to race the Derby and the Flake, you must first qualify, and if you want to win, you must qualify well. To that end, Okrzesik plans to put a massive emphasis on qualifying during the early practice sessions.
“That’s the goal until time trials, it’s huge to qualify and to qualify well,” he said. “It was such a relief last year, really amazing for our guys and I to be up that far. Unfortunately, we had a mechanical failure on Lap 100 that took us out. But, fifth in Snowflake qualifying and 13th in Derby qualifying was impressive. We’re hoping to improve on that this year.”
Still at a young age, Okrzesik knows that a winning weekend could do wonders for his future career in racing.
“That would be really great to win the Snowflake, it would give us so much momentum into Sunday. Winning the Derby, it would be surreal, it would be the best thing that’s ever happened to me and my life.”
Race fans unable to attend the 51st Annual Snowball Derby in person will be able to watch a pay-per-view broadcast all week long on Speed51.com. Five-day video tickets can be purchased now for $74.99 ($35 savings) to watch all of the action. Click here to purchase your video ticket today.
The 51st Annual Snowball Derby will take place on Wednesday, November 28 through Sunday, December 2 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL. For more information regarding the event, visit Snowball Central presented by Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com