Christopher Bell knows what it feels like to stand in Snowball Derby Victory Lane at Five Flags Speedway, but he still doesn’t know what if feels like to be a Snowball Derby champion.
One year ago Bell had his name on the Tom Dawson Trophy. It was in his hands. For a few moments on that Sunday afternoon last December, Bell was a Snowball Derby champion. Then, he wasn’t. His nameplate was removed, and the trophy was given to someone else.
Now Bell is going back to the Derby with hopes of putting his nameplate back on the Tom Dawson Trophy permanently and taking the trophy home with him back to North Carolina.
However, Bell said redemption isn’t the reason he’s coming back to Pensacola, Florida’s Five Flags Speedway for the 49th Annual Snowball Derby on December 4.
“We’re going to the Derby because it’s a big race and I love to race,” said Bell, whose No.51 car was disqualified for a weight violation in post-race tech one year ago. “I’m excited to get back to Pensacola and try and I guess do what we did last year and prove that we can do that again.”
Bell and his Kyle Busch Motorsports team return to the Snowball Derby as one of the favorites to win the 49th edition of the event. Bell, who has scored asphalt Late Model wins at prestigious tracks like Winchester Speedway (IN), said a win at the Snowball Derby would be one of his biggest yet.
“It would be special because it’s a prestigious race and I want to win all of the big ones that I can and be able to have that trophy that I thought I had last year.”
The Norman, Oklahoma native grew up racing Sprint Cars and Midgets, but started his conversion to pavement racing a few years ago. Bell said the Derby is one of his favorite events of the year because it reminds him of some of the big dirt races.
“It relates to the Chili Bowl, the Knoxville Nationals and the King’s Royal,” Bell said. “That’s one thing NASCAR does a really good job at. Every NASCAR race you go to is an event. Every NASCAR event has that big event feel to it that only short track races get. It’s cool to be able to go to Pensacola where it is a big show and be able to compete in that really prestigious event.”
Bell enters the Snowball Derby currently second in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, with a chance to arrive in Pensacola in early December as the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion.
“That would be really special,” Bell said. “Being able to still be in contention for the championship is something that I’m really proud of because obviously my year has been full of ups and downs. I feel like we’re on an uphill swing right now, so if we can continue on and be classified as the champion I’d be really proud of that and really happy.”
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 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]
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo credit: Speed51.com