For the first 280 laps of Sunday’s 50th Annual Snowball Derby, it looked as though it would be short track veterans Bubba Pollard or Jeff Choquette kissing the Tom Dawson Trophy. However, with 16 laps to go, it was Kyle Busch who passed both drivers on his way to kissing the coveted trophy for a second time. While Busch celebrated his victory, both Pollard and Choquette were left wondering what could have been.
After leading a combined 230 laps, unofficially, two drivers held on to round out the podium with Choquette earning his second runner-up finish in the race and Pollard earning a career-best third. After the race, both drivers recapped what the difference could have been in the closing laps.
“A little too loose in the corner and didn’t have much control getting into the center,” Choquette, a Blizzard Series winner at the half-mile oval, explained. “If I could get it settled down in the line that I wanted to do, which I could hit about fifty percent of the time, I could have good drive off.”
“We freed it up there on this set of tires to get ready for the last, and we just never got to make that short run at the end when we didn’t get a caution,” Pollard, the 2017 Blizzard Series champion, noted. “It’s part of it, you know. We had a good racecar today. We’ll try it again next year.”
The biggest surprise to Pollard was that the conclusion did not play out like previous years, and a set of fresh tires were abnormally remaining in the pit area after a long green flag run to end the race.
“It’s crazy; you think you’d get the cautions, but it just shows you how good the racecars out here,” Pollard complimented. “There’s a lot of competition and good racers, so you don’t see a lot of cautions.”
Throughout the race weekend, Pollard was looked at as the driver to beat come Sunday afternoon. He dominated practice sessions and qualified second for the 300-lap race. Even Busch himself admitted earlier in the week that everyone was chasing the No. 26 (Pollard).
Busch, a driver who has experienced success at the highest levels of the sport, added his praise and respect for Super Late Model racing’s finest.
“Fun to come out and race in these cars and have great competitors that ran me really clean all day long, so congrats to those guys,” Busch remarked. “I hated being in that spot when (Erik) Jones beat me, but we had just enough here today in order to get it done.”
While Busch added a second Tom Dawson trophy to his collection, two of Super Late Model racing’s biggest stars will be forced to wait one more year to lay a smooch on the most coveted trophy in short track racing.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Central NY & PA Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos