By the Numbers: Snowball Derby Qualifying Night

Friday night at the Snowball Derby is one of the most intense nights in short track racing, as teams compete in single-car qualifying in hopes of making the field for the biggest race of the year.




Ahead of Friday’s Country Pleasin’ Pole Night, here is our “By the Numbers” preview of the big night.


0.313: The separation from the pole to the bump time in 2019 was 0.313 seconds. The lowest the separation has been was in 2015, when it was only 0.207.  You have to be fast to make the show.


1: Friday night is about making the show, but only one guy can win the pole.  That driver will take home the $1,000 Country Pleasin’ Sausage Pole Night bonus, and will have the chance to win the Pit Pay Pole Challenge and the Phoenix Construction Back to Front Challenge on Sunday’s Snowball Derby for another $30,000 in total bonus money.


3: He’s got three starts inside the top three, so if you are looking on good money for the pole, then Preston Peltier is your guy. His average start is 9.67 and his best finish came a year ago when he was fifth.


4: Eddie Mercer is the only four-time Snowball Derby pole sitter.


5: Bubba Pollard may not have a Snowball Derby win to his credit, but he is a terror on qualifying night.  The 2011 pole sitter has five starts in the top five and has been on the front row three times.  All eyes will be on the 71 when he hits the track on Friday night.


8: There are eight former pole sitters trying to make the field and win the pole on Friday night.  They include Jeremy Pate, Grant Enfinger, Bubba Pollard, Chase Elliott, Hunter Robbins, Ty Majeski, Preston Peltier and Derek Thorn. Will one of them get another pole or will we see a new face leading the field to green?


16.120: It’s the Snowball Derby qualifying track record and it’s held by Ty Majeski who set it on a cold night in 2015.  The track record of 16.33 from 1980 set by Gary Balough stood for 31 years.


30: The top 30 will make the Snowball Derby on time.  The pressure is on all night, but the last few drivers will cause the most panic as team look to lock into the Snowball Derby.


55.6: An average of 55.6 cars have taken time in the Snowball Derby in the last 10 years.


2015: On Friday night in 2015, the weather was perfect and the speeds showed it.  The bump time was the lowest it’s ever been when Quin Houff circled the track at 16.327. Anytime before 2009, that would have been good enough for the pole.


Bump Time 


2019 Travis Braden 16.590

2018 Spencer Davis 16.720

2017 Stephen Nasse 16.660

2016 Derek Scott 16.496

2015 Quin Houff 16.327

2014 Steve Dorer 16.436

2013 Landon Cassill 16.554

2012 Grant Enfinger 16.808

2011 Derek Thorn 16.719

2010 Dave Mader, III 16.770


Wayback Bump Times 


2000 Jody Ridley 17.240

1990 Rick Carelli 17.936


Weather:  We are not expecting the weather to be cold enough to produce a track record, but these teams have worked so hard for every fraction of a second and it keeps showing up on the stop watch.


Provisionals: The Blizzard Series champion, Bubba Pollard, and the Southern Super Series champion Stephen Nasse are locked into the field on Sunday.  If they make the race on time then those next in line in the points would become eligible to make the race back through the top 10.  Travis Braden is also locked in to the race as last years winner. If Braden makes the race on time, that provisional is not passed along to other former champions, and 36 cars will start Sunday’s race.


-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51 Correspondent

-Photo credit:

By the Numbers: Snowball Derby Qualifying Night