In the final practice sessions before Snowball Derby qualifying, some teams found the pace they had been searching for throughout the week, while others ran into issues in the final practice session of the day.
The most notable incident of the final practice session collected Travis Braden and A.J. Wernette. Both drivers suffered considerable damage after they came together on-track, sending both to the infield for repairs.
Braden expressed frustration with the incident, unsure of what led to it but knowing significant damage resulted from it.
“I’m not quite sure what the deal was or what was going on, if there was an issue,” Braden told Speed51. “Someone was way up high going into one, three or four grooves up, way off the pace. He just came right across the track down to the bottom. I was already committed to the bottom, there was no way I could slow in time. He just clobbered the right side of us.
“I don’t know, maybe there was an issue. I hope there was an issue and not just complete stupidity to come across the race track like that.”
Braden believed he and his Team Platinum crew would be able to repair the car in time for a qualifying attempt on Friday night, but questioned how fast the entry would be as a result.
"I think we’re going to get it fixed. It’s going to be a little carved up, the front clip looks to be a little bit bent, but there’s nothing we can do about it and we don’t have a backup car. It’s unfortunate, I really thought we had a car capable of running in the top five on Sunday. These guys are going to give it their all to get back there.”
A.J. Wernette declined comment on the collision.
In an incident of lesser consequence, Colten Nelson spun in turn four after contact with Carson Hocevar. Nelson avoided contact with the outside wall and drove away unscathed.
Nelson took blame for his role in the incident, realizing he held up Hocevar on a mock qualifying run in the waning minutes of track time before the all-important qualifying session.
“He was doing a mock qualifying run and we were just turning laps getting used to the track. Just a little miscommunication between my spotter and I, or him and his spotter. I tried to get out of the way at the last minute but we ended up getting turned. Luckily we didn’t make contact with the wall, it was really close.”
Hocevar also showed remorse for spinning Nelson, admitting he was surprised that Nelson didn’t give way.
“I don’t really know. I thought he was letting me go, so I was on a mock run and didn’t change my line or anything. He came down and I wasn’t expecting him to. I turned him. I feel bad, we’re terrible right now, so that mock run wasn’t going to do a whole lot.”
While those drivers had their issues, others were finding speed at the most important time. One such driver was Casey Roderick, shooting up to fourth in the final practice round after his Wilson Motosports teams swapped rear-ends in the machine.
“We’ve been struggling for two days down here,” said Roderick. “Anything we did just didn’t make a difference in the car. It was doing the same thing off the corner every lap. We checked the rear-end and it ended up being bent. We changed out rear-ends, went back out there, and the car was a lot better. We’ve got something to work with now.”
Race fans can watch all of the racing from the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby as well as Friday night’s qualifying session on Speed51’s pay-per-view broadcast. Click here to order video tickets now.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 photo