With a field full of names like Harrison Burton, Bubba Pollard, Jeff Choquette, Noah Gragson and Stewart Friesen, it’s easy for someone like Cole Butcher to be overlooked before qualifying for the Snowball Derby began at Five Flags Speedway (FL). Even though he’s a multi-time Maritime Pro Stock Tour champion in Canada, Butcher still isn’t a household name in much of the United States.
But, he made big strides in changing that fact on Friday night during qualifying when he put down a lap of 16.327 seconds. As a result, Butcher will roll off outside of Harrison Burton on the front row when the 51st Annual Snowball Derby goes green at 2 p.m. CT / 3 p.m. ET on Sunday.
“I was aiming for a top ten qualifying run, but knowing how many cars posted faster times than us this week, I didn’t know if we could get it done,” Butcher said. “It’s definitely a relief, and quite honestly, a surprise. We struggled with speed all week. It’s unreal to think that I’m starting on the front row of the Snowball Derby.”
Butcher made his first Derby start in 2017 for Donnie Wilson Racing. He qualified ninth for that race and finished 15th, one lap down.
He’s back with Donnie Wilson Racing once again this year, and now he’s suddenly thrust himself into the conversation as one of the contenders for the Tom Dawson Trophy.
As a result, Butcher said he feels way more confident now because of his track position to start the race. But, he also knows that 300 laps around Five Flags Speedway is a long time and a lot can happen.
“Our qualifying run definitely gave me some confidence, but there’s a lot that can happen and it’s a long race. I think if we can stay out of trouble and be near the front with fifty to go we’ll have a good shot.”
If he can stay near the front of the field, Butcher has a chance to take the Tom Dawson Trophy back to Nova Scotia, which would by far be the biggest accomplishment of his career.
“We’ve won some big races back home in Canada, but nothing compares to the Snowball Derby,” Butcher said. “It would without a doubt be the biggest win of my career. It would mean a lot, not only to me but to everyone at (Donnie Wilson Racing) and Butcher Racing. Without them, this wouldn’t even be a possibility. Here’s hoping we can be there at the end.”
The 51st Annual Snowball Derby goes green at 2 p.m. CT / 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 2. Race fans can watch all of the action live with Speed51.com’s pay-per-view coverage. Single day online video tickets are available here.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Associate Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo credit: Speed51.com