The 49th Annual Snowball Derby had more storylines than a film created in Hollywood. Some drivers battled for the win, some suffered bad luck and some were involved in a little bit of drama with a fellow competitor. In this edition of Derby Leftovers, we take a look at some of the drivers who saw their Snowball Derby dreams end in the middle of the pack at Five Flags Speedway.
RODERICK IS TESTED TOUGH
Casey Roderick had a race-winning car early on in the Snowball Derby, but a mid-race melee left his No. 7 battered and bruised. After getting shuffled back during pitstops with drivers staying out, Roderick was involved in an accident on the backstretch that damaged the right side of his race car. Roderick and his crew didn’t give up, however. They displayed plenty of fight and battled to a sixth-place finish.
“Definitely a hard-fought race for us there after the first one-hundred laps. We had a great car on the long run, it was really, really good. This car comes in late and when it comes in it’s on,” Roderick said. “But it’s unfortunate, I felt like we were the best car here tonight. It’s a shame that we couldn’t show for it. But coming back to sixth ain’t so bad either in our circumstances after we got turned around there. We had a bent right-rear shock mount after it and we kept coming in and worked on it, got it the best we could to finish the race.”
Roderick was also able to finish the race mostly intact after his crew reattached his right side door after it had been torn off in the accident.
“I could see it laying on the racetrack when I came back around. I told the guys to go get it and we can take it back home. Everybody did a great job working on it and getting it to where it’s at and did a good enough job for sixth.”
For his team’s hard work, Roderick was awarded Tuesday’s PitBoxes.com Pit Crew of the Day Award.
THORN FINISHES 12TH IN BACKUP CAR
Fresh off his third SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series championship, Derek Thorn made his way to Pensacola, Florida with high hopes. Those high hopes were lowered a bit early in the week when the Campbell Motorsports team battled the setup on his primary car before switching to his backup. Despite the team putting forward a hard fought effort, Thorn still felt a little down about his 12th-place finish.
“I’m a little disappointed,” Thorn told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We worked really hard on this thing to try and get it a little better tonight, and I’m not sure what the answer was. We never hit it just right to where we could get the balance; we got good turn-ability and good drive off at one point, just getting the two together to coexist. I got to apologize to Augie Grill, got into him there late when everyone checked up and domino-effected. I had the deal with the 26 (Bubba Pollard), that was just a racing incident, but it knocked the nose in and made for a longer night for us. But I’m proud of Campbell Motorsports, we tried really hard to get what we needed and it just became a little bit short from what we needed. You’re coming in with the best guys in the country, sometimes you hit it and sometimes you don’t, tonight we were off a little bit.”
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE FOR GRAGSON
Noah Gragson came in with one of the strongest teams in the field under Richie Wauters, but ended up flying under the radar for most of the weekend before finishing ninth on Tuesday. Though he didn’t take home the Tom Dawson Trophy, he showed a lot of gratitude for his team as he moves on to drive in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch in 2017.
“Started off shaky, probably should’ve been a little more patient than I was, but we had a bullet tonight,” he said. “Thanks to everyone at Richie Wauters Motorsports, they had the car on rails. Like I said, just needed to be a little more patient. But I’m thankful for the opportunity that I was able to make the race here, it’s a privilege to race with all these guys. It’s the biggest short track race in the nation. We finished top ten, got a good experience out of it, just need to be a little better.”
Gragson also felt that just surviving the race’s many yellows was the key to a strong finish.
“It felt like that, at least past Lap 250. I was actually chatting with Bob (Dillner) on-air for Speed51, I told him for the last 50 laps there was going to be a lot of cautions and we went back to green and there was a lot of cautions. I had fun out there. It was hectic, definitely survival for everyone.”
SOUTHERN SUPER SERIES CHAMP TURNS IN SOLID DERBY PERFORMANCE
Donnie Wilson’s chances at a Snowball Derby victory seemed a little dampened, not because of the excessive rain, but his so-so qualifying effort. In the end, the Norman, Oklahoma driver used well-timed pit stops and a strong car to get into a good position, only to be dealt some bad luck.
“Started twentieth or twenty-first, whatever it was, got up to third, thought we had a shot at it and then (Chad) Finley’s battery was having an issue and kind of killed us on that restart and allowed Eckes, Nemecheck, and Majeski to get out in front of us right there,” Wilson explained. “We couldn’t catch them, but got a fourth-place finish. I’m happy with that. The Derby is always a survival contest pretty much. I think it went well. The competition cautions, a lot of us had to work to get our places back and make up spots, I think it worked well.”
Overall, it is a positive finish to a great season for the 2016 Southern Super Series champion.
“It’s been an awesome season. I just wish Winchester would’ve gone better and All-American 400 went better. But, we ended on a great note and we’re looking forward to next year.”
DAVIS STRUGGLES WITH SETUP AFTER STRONG QUALIFYING EFFORT
For Spencer Davis, a solid third-place qualifying effort wasn’t enough to keep him up in front, as he fell victim to an ill-handling race car.
“Anytime you sit around for two days and wind up going from day to night race hurts, especially when you can’t make adjustments on the first pit stop. Overall, I think we had a pretty decent day, we ended up stuck in a couple lanes on restarts and lost positions that we didn’t necessarily need to lose,” Davis commented. “The race as whole was underachieved Snowball Derby, size and presence as it is. As long as we sat under red flags for no apparent reason hurt us too. When you get cycles on tires that bad cooling down for twenty or thirty minutes at a time. Overall, we came home with four fenders on it and finished fifteenth, our best Snowball Derby finish yet, we’ll take it going forward and look forward to next year.”
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com