At the end of the 50th Annual Snowball Derby, only one driver kissed the Tom Dawson trophy and etched their names into the record books. But the race featured more storylines than just that. That’s why we’ve decided to feed you some leftovers from the prestigious race at Five Flags Speedway.
Clark Charges to Best Derby Finish
Cassius Clark passed more cars than anyone else Sunday and brought home his first career Derby top five.
Starting 29th, Clark rode a rocket through the field early in the day and picked up over 15 spots in the race’s initial run. With a couple of more laps at the end of the day, Clark feels he could’ve have ended his long trip to the Gulf Coast with a podium run.
“It was really good in the daylight, and we came along like gangbusters,” Clark said. “We went all the way up to 12th in that first seventy laps. Then it tightened up a bit. I don’t think we had anything for Kyle, but if we had a few more laps we may have gotten up to third.
After failing to qualify for the Snowball in 2016, one might think Clark would be ecstatic about a top five. However, the Maine racer had one goal in mind Sunday and won’t be satisfied until he reaches it.
“The team is excited, but I wanted to win,” Clark stated. “We had a good run, so it wasn’t a wasted trip. We will take our notes and see what we need to improve on when we come back next year.”
Peltier’s Weekend Comes to an Early End
After setting fast time Friday night in qualifying, Preston Peltier showed the field he had the speed to win the Snowball Derby. But on Sunday afternoon, he didn’t have the luck.
Bubba Pollard got the jump on the initial start, and Peltier couldn’t lead his first lap of the day until a restart on lap 70. He got out front for a handful of circuits, but Pollard breezed by a few laps later.
Peltier’s day took a nosedive on lap 93 when he was caught up in a big accident in turn two. After a strong start, his Derby dreams were dashed.
“They just stacked up there in front and I had nowhere to go,” Peltier said. “We came in and it took a long time to make an adjustment. It put us back in the middle of that, and that one pit stop cost us.”
With Peltier’s misfortune, it has now been 12 years since the pole winner also won the race.
Majeski’s Gamble Doesn’t Pay Off
Ty Majeski was one of the favorites to win the 50th Snowball Derby, but never recovered from going two laps down early in the event.
“That’s why they call it racing,” Majeski dejectedly said. “We had a bunch of cautions early and never got any after that.”
Following the first run of the race, Majeski and crew elected to stay out while many of the other front runners pitted for fresh rubber. The race went green for a long stretch after Majeski took over the top spot, allowing those that pitted to take advantage of their new set of tires.
Majeski went from the lead to two laps down during the run, and despite being the fastest car on track near the end of the event, was forced to settle for a 17th-place finish.
“That decision (to stay out) cost us a good finish,” Majeski admitted. “I’m not really sure what the thought process was. I was told to stay out and I did and it obviously didn’t work out how we wanted it to.”
Big Wreck Takes Out Big Names
A massive wreck on lap 93 took many contenders and front runners before the 1/3 mark of the race.
Mason Mingus, Donnie Wilson, Stephen Nasse, Preston Peltier, Logan Boyett, Christian Eckes and more received damage in the accident, which ended the days of quite a few drivers.
With the field still tightly bunched together after a restart, the stack began off turn two and happened so quickly that drivers had little to no chance to take evasive action.
“It just got stacked up,” Mingus said. “Everyone tries to race too hard, too early in this race. We just destroyed some really good race cars.”
Boyett took the wildest ride of the day. He made heavy contact with another machine, launching the front end of the machine into the air. Boyett was hit again after the car came to rest.
“I was seeing and looking at my opening and the next thing I knew I was in the air and feeling as though I might roll over,” Boyett explained. “Once I landed I got hit again in the RF and spun around. I tried as hard as I could to sneak by, but it happens so fast all you can do is go for any clear spot you see and hope it works out.”
All drivers walked away from the incident.
Trio of Canadians on the Gulf Coast
A little bit of Canadian racing history was made Sunday.
Per our records, the 50th Snowball Derby was the first time three drivers from north of the border competed in the same Snowball event.
Raphael Lessard from St. Joseph de Beauce, Quebec finished ninth. Cole Butcher of Porter’s Lake, Nova Scotia came home 15th and Saul St. Marie, Ontario’s Jerry Artuso was scored 22nd at the finish.
-By Ryan McCollough, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent – Twitter: @RyanLMcCollough
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos