Californian Bests Canadian for Snowball Derby Pole

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


143Derek Thorn16.277
253BCole Butcher16.379
37Corey LaJoie16.381
44Kyle Plott16.387
526PBubba Pollard16.398
657Josh Berry16.401
754CMatt Craig16.412
89CJeff Choquette16.419
922Casey Roderick16.427
1051SChandler Smith16.454
1130Jesse Dutilly16.457
1221PJeremy Pate16.461
1348Preston Peltier16.476
1481Giovanni Bromante16.480
1535Jake Garcia16.497
1610Kaden Honeycutt16.497
1718Hunter Robbins16.510
187DJohn DeAngelis Jr16.528
1975Jeremy Doss16.533
2012GDerek Griffith16.534
21112Augie Grill16.545
2254GDavid Gilliland16.553
2391Ty Majeski16.556
2451AMichael Atwell16.558
2514CConnor Okrzeisk16.563
2620MCole Moore16.570
2778Corey Heim16.572
282Derek Kraus16.579
29119Dalton Zehr16.582
3026BTravis Braden16.590
3114HCarson Hocevar16.619
3299Casey Smith16.624
331Michael House16.640
3471Johnny VanDoorn16.642
3521BTrey Bayne16.659
3651NStephen Nasse16.672
3736Dan Fredrickson16.679
3812BHarrison Burton16.682
395MMason Mingus16.689
4015Rodrigo Rejon16.699
4150Jett Noland16.701
4279BKyle Bryant16.710
4316Lucas Jones16.722
4411David Rogers16.725
459MBrad May16.725
4614NAustin Nason16.748
4720DJack Dossey III16.751
4845Rich Bickle16.753
4914DChris Davidson16.772
5053JBoris Jurkovic16.808
5188Jordan Anderson16.809
5297Steven Davis16.835
535AJerry Artuso16.841
548Colten Nelson16.856
5590Tim Curry16.934
5637AJ Wernette17.904


-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans

-Photo credit: Speed51 photo

Californian Bests Canadian for Snowball Derby Pole