The saying “third time’s a charm” proved right for John DeAngelis, Jr. one year ago when he qualified for his first Snowball Derby in his third attempt. Now off the heels of his strongest season to date, DeAngelis is preparing for his return to Five Flags Speedway for the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby on December 4-8.
The driver from Hubertus, Wisconsin established himself as one of the top guys in his home state. Along with finishing a career-best third in ARCA Midwest Tour points, he also scored podium finishes in two of Wisconsin’s biggest races: the Slinger Nationals and Dixieland 250. The results that he and his team have put up since last December has them excited to get back to where it all started.
“I’m pretty excited to say the least. We had a pretty good season despite two big wins taken away from us just by track position or officiating,” DeAngelis told Speed51.com. “But we’re excited to get back, especially after the run we had there last year.”
DeAngelis failed to qualify for the Snowball Derby in his first two attempts in 2015 and 2017. However, last year’s race was a different story and it put other teams on notice. He qualified ninth for Sunday’s race, ahead of names like Bubba Pollard, Casey Roderick and Ty Majeski.
He would finish a respectable 13th in the 51st Annual Snowball Derby after running in the top half of the field the entire race.
“Our first two attempts we didn’t even make it out of the last chance race. We went down there last year and qualified ninth out of I believe it was 53 or 54 cars. It felt awesome, you know,” he said. “We went back home with a 13th-place finish, I know it wasn’t ideal or what we were looking for. Inexperience on pit stops on my part set us back a little bit, we lost track position that was hard to make up. I feel like we’re going to have a strong car again this year. My Crew Chief (Travis Dassow) has been on his game this year. We’ve had really good finishes this year and we should’ve won, but sometimes the cards don’t play out.”
Now that he and his team know what they are capable of in major races, he feels slight pressure to use the momentum they have built up for a strong run in the Derby.
“It’s always giving you a little bit of both because you know what you’re capable of and you always want to try to achieve that, plus be better yourself,” he stated. “At the same time it carries the momentum saying, ‘Hey look, we’ve got a car that can do it, let’s go out there and do it.’ There’s a little bit of both pressure and momentum from last year.”
As a native of Wisconsin, DeAngelis is no stranger to major Super Late Model races. Despite that, he believes the Snowball Derby doesn’t compare to any other race in America. He says it’s a race that can make or break a driver’s career.
“It’s just completely different from what a normal special is. You walk into that place and it’s just a whole different atmosphere. You get the chills looking back and seeing all the names that have won it and to bring that Tom Dawson Trophy home would be spectacular. It’s a big race, a lot of people go, there’s a lot of exposure and nine times out of ten, if you do really well you’re going to get noticed.”
After last year’s breakthrough performance, DeAngelis has one goal set in mind.
“I’d like to say the goal is to come home with the Tom Dawson Trophy and bring it back to Wisconsin and be the first to do so since Bickle.”
Race fans interested in taking part in the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby presented by BJ’s Wholesale Club can visit 5flagsspeedway.com for ticket information.
Those unable to make the trip to Five Flags Speedway for the event can tune in live to Speed51’s broadcast of the race. Now is the perfect time to order your video ticket and take advantage of early-bird savings.
To order your early bird Snowball Derby four-day video package today, click here and use discount code “snowbird.” Individual video tickets are available for each day of racing; however, a four-day early bird video ticket offers a total savings of $38.
Individual video tickets can be purchased now at the regular price by clicking here.
For more information on the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby, visit Speed51’s Snowball Central.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51.com