California, Vermont, Wisconsin, and North Carolina were only a few of the states across the country represented throughout the last few days at Five Flags Speedway (FL). Snowball Derby and Snowflake 100 teams were making the most of every final opportunity to shake down their Late Models prior to the week’s first on track activity Thursday morning.
Included were last names of NASCAR fame making a name for themselves, as Harrison Burton and Ross Kenseth tested during the daylight hours on Monday. Burton has a host of experience supporting him in the form of father Jeff Burton and crew chief Freddie Query. Along with that he has a good amount of confidence and momentum following recent events such as the Governor’s Cup, but will be attempting to make his initial Snowball Derby attempt this week.
“We’re making strides in both the cars and learning a lot with the test getting them dialed in for two of the biggest races of this year,” Burton told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Hopefully we’ll be ready to go.”
The teenager has quite a bit on his calendar as he will be returning home Tuesday and Wednesday to go to school before coming back for practice day on Thursday.
Kenseth was satisfied with his machine, which was revealed on Monday morning sporting a scheme that most likely has never been seen before. The “Ugly Sweater” pattern adorning the sides of the Super Late Model can be seen live on 51 TV throughout the weekend.
Other talented racers were dialing in the cars they are scheduled to drive as well as mentoring teammates who will be attempting the Snowflake 100 in a Pro Late Model. 2014 ARCA Racing Series runner up Grant Enfinger was fast in his Gary Crooks-prepared Super Late Model and was also seen on the headset with John Robicheaux.
“We started out in the ballpark (on Saturday),” said Enfinger. “I think we still need a little bit of speed in race trim and another tenth or two in qualifying trim would be nice. I think we’ve got a good solid baseline that we can move forward with.”
Robicheaux, who has had very little time in a Late Model within the last four years, started turning some fast laps until he looped the car around in turn three resulting in some minor cosmetic damage.
Floridian Jeff Choquette was out several times and additionally assisted in coaching young Caleb Adrian, who only has made a handful of starts in a Late Model.
“The track is going to go through so many transitions from now until Friday night when we qualify and especially through Sunday,” said Choquette. “We’re just trying to keep up with the race track and get a baseline feel.
“(Caleb) made some laps earlier this morning and he did very well,” continued Choquette. “Hopefully we can get him behind people (on Thursday) and let him learn a little bit.”
West coasters Derek Thorn and Jacob Gomes, New Englander Brian Hoar, and ARCA Midwest Tour champion Ty Majeski were among the drivers part of the atmosphere as the action gets closer for the Derby week festivities. In all, approximately 16 teams were in attendance on Monday adding to the counts of 14 Late Models and one Pro Truck Sunday, eight on Saturday, and six on Friday.
Some competitors arrived early with their haulers in the parking lot outside of the track. Midwestern young gun J.J. Haley’s team was seen applying decals to the side of his car and part time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Chris Fontaine’s crew prepared their machine for their first Snowball Derby attempt.
On Saturday night nearby Flomaton Speedway featured the Gulf Coast Dirt Track Championship, continuing with the racing festivities building up to one of the most prestigious short track races in the country, the 47th Annual Snowball Derby.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Correspondent – Twitter: @Aaron_Creed
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com