The best Super Late Model racers in North America converge each year at Five Flags Speedway (FL) for the Snowball Derby, and the front row for the race’s 52nd running is proof of that. California’s Derek Thorn took the pole for the event on Country Pleasin’ Pole Night Friday, with Nova Scotia’s Cole Butcher taking the second spot.
Thorn had a slow start to his Friday, but rebounded to be the fastest man in Pensacola when it mattered most.
“We were 30thtoday in our first practice,” Thorn told Speed51. “Mike Keen and these guys went to work and the thing was awesome in qualifying. We’ve still got 300 laps to go, but right now it feels awesome.”
Despite the strong qualifying run, Thorn knows work will still have to be done to prepare for the 300-lap 52ndAnnual Snowball Derby presented by BJ’s Wholesale Club.
“We’re qualifying at night. The majority of the race is during the daytime. We’ve got some stuff to do tomorrow to make sure the car is as good for the race as it was for qualifying.”
Butcher will join Thorn on the front row, taking the second spot in qualifying for the second consecutive year. The Nova Scotia native was complimentary of Thorn’s pole run afterwards.
“Congratulations to Derek, they deserve it,” Butcher said. “They’ve been working hard lately. We qualified second two years in a row, I can’t thank these Wilson Motorsports guys enough.”
Butcher said he was able to learn from last year’s strong qualifying showing and plans to be more assertive in this year’s race.
“I have to be a little bit more aggressive than I was last year. You get a caution every 75 laps, if not sooner, so you’re going hard from the green flag. You’re getting new tires every 75 laps. Pretty much just try to stay up front and be there at the end.”
NASCAR Cup Series driver Corey LaJoie, by his own words a “terrible” qualifier, will start third for the Derby.
“I’m a self-admitted terrible qualifier,” the GoFas Racing driver said. “For our car to be that fast, I think those guys should be worried about it. I feel like our car in race trim was better than it was in qualifying trim, so we’ll see what we’ve got.”
LaJoie, who signed an extension with Go Fas Racing this week, believes he can contend for the win this Sunday.
“We worked on qualifying trim today because track position is important anywhere. I feel like we’ve got a really good race-trim setup. Hopefully we’ll keep tinkering on it and be ready for Sunday.”
Bubba Pollard has struggled for much of the week in his pursuit of speed, but turned up the wick in time for a fifth-place qualifying effort to put him in a strong position for his first Tom Dawson Trophy. For the Georgia driver, it was a matter of getting back to basics.
“We’ve run down here so much. We knew we had a good baseline, we just needed to tweak some things out. That’s all it is, a baseline from what we’ve run all year. We’ve made some gains on it today in practice. I feel pretty good about it. We’ve got a good starting spot going into the race, so we’ll be fine.”
Race fans who want to watch Saturday and Sunday’s Snowball Derby action can click here to purchase video tickets for Speed51’s pay-per-view broadcast of the event.
Snowball Derby Qualifying Results
|18||7D||John DeAngelis Jr||16.528|
|47||20D||Jack Dossey III||16.751|
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 photo