The Snowball Derby is always a who’s who of pavement racing. The best drivers from all over North America descend upon Pensacola, Florida’s Five Flags Speedway for the biggest race of the year. Many of those drivers are champions from whatever track or series they race regularly, and they’re all looking to add the title of “Snowball Derby champion” to their resume.
The biggest name of all of the champions coming to Pensacola of course is Kyle Busch. The Las Vegas, Nevada native won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2015 and finished in second in the standings this year. Busch is returning to the Snowball Derby for the first time since 2012. It will be Busch’s fourth Snowball Derby start. He won the Snowball Derby in 2009.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series from 2016 is headed down south from Wisconsin. Johnny Sauter will be making his first Snowball Derby attempt this year. Sauter dominated the Oktoberfest 200 Super Late Model race at Wisconsin’s La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway in October, beating the ARCA Midwest Tour’s best, including four-time champion Ty Majeski.
Speaking of Majeski, the four-time defending Midwest Tour titleist is coming south for another crack at a Snowball Derby victory. Majeski has come close multiple times, finishing third each of the last two years at the Derby. Majeski is also the track record holder thanks to a lap of 16.120 seconds set in 2015.
Ben Rowe will be making his first Snowball Derby attempt this year. Rowe is a five-time and defending Pro All Star Series National champion, as well as a four-time PASS North champion.
Harrison Burton is a newly crowned champion in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Burton has made two Snowball Derby starts and has shown speed even though his best finish of 26th doesn’t show that. Burton is one of many drivers hoping this is the year that he gets to lift the Tom Dawson Trophy.
Casey Roderick is a former Blizzard Series champion (Five Flags Speedway track champion), as well as a Pro Late Model champion at Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL), Five Flags Speedway and Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN). Roderick is making his fourth Snowball Derby attempt.
Four former Southern Super Series champions are on this year’s entry list for the 50th Annual Snowball Derby. Bubba Pollard, Donnie Wilson and Casey Smith are all chasing their first Tom Dawson Trophy, as is this year’s champion Stephen Nasse.
From the West Coast, Garrett Evans will be making a trek to Florida’s Panhandle from Washington State and Jeremy Doss will be heading south from California. Garrett Evans is a seven-time Late Model touring series champion on the west coast and Doss is a two-time Pacific Challenge Series champion.
Cole Butcher will be making his first Snowball Derby attempt this week. The Canadian from Nova Scotia is a former champion with the Maritime Pro Stock Tour.
All of these champions have one goal in mind this week at Five Flags Speedway. That one goal is to be named a Snowball Derby champion.
Race fans can watch all of the champions and many more by purchasing a live video ticket here.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo credit: Speed51.com