In 2016, Cole Anderson established himself as one of the top drivers in Late Model racing in the Southeast. Fast forward two years to present day and now the Minnesota native is heading to the Allen Turner Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida hoping to get one more victory in his pavement racing swan song.
Without having sponsorship in place for 2019, Anderson has put a different plan in place.
“We’re going dirt racing,” Anderson said. “I’ve got two dirt cars. IMCA-type Modifieds.”
“It’s all about improving and slowing down our pace in the beginning of the race. I felt like a few times last year I’d go too hard in the beginning, then get a caution about 40 laps in and then all of the sudden you’re going to the trunk. I think slowing our pace down has really helped.”
Anderson said the keys to being near the front at the end of the race is slowing down his early race pace, and also qualifying better. In three Snowflake 100 starts, Anderson has never started inside the top 15.
But even though he’s qualified poorly, Anderson still has finished well. In 2015, he started 27th and finished fifth. Then in 2016, Anderson qualified 15th and finished seventh.
“We lack a little bit in qualifying on my end,” he admitted. “There’s a lot of pressure at the Snowflake with a lot of cars trying to make the race. Hopefully I can qualify up front. There were a few years where we started mid-pack and got lucky and missed some wrecks. But then there’s times when you can’t miss wrecks and that’s what happened last year.”
A wreck took out Anderson with 21 laps on the board last year. He started 18th and finished 27th.
To turn that around, Anderson and his Gunslinger team – owned by NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Mike Skinner – ran all four races in the Allen Turner Pro Late Model Series at Five Flags Speedway throughout 2018. Anderson said he thinks he and his team have made gains this year.
“We raced the Allen Turner series this year so we could be better prepared for the Snowflake. Qualifying against guys like Casey Roderick and we were right there and even beat him a few times. I think we’ve definitely improved our program there. It’ll be interesting to see what we can do against the Snowflake drivers. We’ll keep working on it.”
Anderson and his team will have plenty of time to work on their setup throughout the weekend leading up to qualifying on Saturday afternoon before the race begins. Anderson actually said that sometimes having too much time to work on the car can be a detriment to his team.
“I think sometimes what we do is we get too much practice and the car will be really good early and then we get too much time to tweak on it and over adjust. Hopefully we can figure some new things out. We’re fairly close, but just not quite there.”
If everything goes according to plan and Anderson is in a position to take the victory, it would be one of the most important wins of his career.
“It would be pretty special for us to end my asphalt racing down south on a high note,” Anderson said. “It would be nice to go out on top.”
The 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.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Associate Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo credit: Speed51.com