Donnie Wilson dropped a bombshell on Speed51’s “The Morning Bullring” Monday, as he will be bringing a three-car "Dream Team" to the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway (FL).
The Oklahoma City driver will not be competing in the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby presented by BJ’s Wholesale Club. However, his Wilson Motorsports team will field three entries in the Super Late Model crown jewel event. Back-to-back Southern Super Series champion Casey Roderick, two-time Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour champion Cole Butcher and 2019 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Champion Derek Kraus will pilot cars for Wilson in the Derby.
Kraus will climb behind the wheel of the No. 2 typically driven by Wilson, who will be stepping aside for the race.
“As far as the Derby, I won’t be driving,” said Wilson. “Derek Kraus will be running. I’ve got a pretty good group of guys for the Derby, with Casey Roderick, Cole Butcher and Derek Kraus. It doesn’t hurt to have a NASCAR K&N champion in the car, huh?”
For Kraus, it is an opportunity to join an all-star lineup going into the biggest race of the year.
“It’s a really big lineup,” Kraus told Speed51. “There are a lot of good drivers on this team, so it’ll be really fun to go there."
Kraus has been to the Snowball Derby four times, but hasn't posted a finish better than 16th. The Wisconsin native hopes the alliance will give him a better shot at success at the Pensacola half-mile.
“I feel that Casey and Donnie and Cole, they’ll all be a really big help. Casey and Donnie are racing at Five Flags quite a bit throughout the summer. I’ll be able to bounce things off of them and use them like a teacher about the race track and what the race car needs to do.”
Kraus added the deal came together as he won’t be able to compete with his usual Super Late Model team, as many on the team have work or other commitments during the Derby.
“Our own stuff, we race at LaCrosse, the guys who help us can’t really get off work for the Derby. We felt we weren’t able to get enough people together to go down and be as good as we needed to be. All of the Rowdy Manufacturing stuff, we all know how good that stuff is. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Wilson insisted this isn’t a sign that he’ll be giving up racing any time soon. Instead, it was just an opportunity to partner three championship drivers to give himself and his team three excellent shots to win the Snowball Derby.
“I’m not giving it up. I just had a situation where I think I have a great lineup of drivers. That’s not to say I can’t get it done, but the opportunity was there and that’s what we’re going to do. I think we’ve got a great shot of winning the race.”
The veteran Wilson admitted he has tried to prepare for the moment when he’d simply be a car owner rather than owner/driver in the Snowball Derby, but has had a little bit of practice wearing the owner’s hat during 2019 at the Speed51 Super Select at Lucas Oil Raceway (IN) and other events.
I’ve been gearing myself up for that, number one, but I had some experience when we went to Indy with Casey and [Raphael] Lessard. Even when Trevor Noles won when we were at Orange County, I thought that was the best thing ever. Regardless of who is driving the car, a win is a win. Racing is a team sport, and I think we’ve got a great team.
“It’s a different perspective. Obviously, it is nerve-wracking, but I have total, 100-percent faith in all these drivers. At the end of the day, we all know what we’re doing.”
The best Super Late Model racers in the country will take the green flag at 2 p.m. CT on Sunday, December 8 for 300 laps of racing in the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby. Speed51 will have race fans covered with flag-to-flag coverage until the Tom Dawson Trophy is delivered to the winner in victory lane.
Individual video tickets are available for each day of racing; however, a four-day early bird video ticket offers a total savings of $38.
Fans who missed Wilson's interview can click here to see an on-demand replay of “The Morning Bullring.” The show traditionally airs at 7 a.m. ET on Speed51 and Speed51’s Facebook Feed presented by Five Star Race Car Bodies, but will take a Thanksgiving break next week, returning for an on-location episode at Five Flags Speedway (FL) on Monday, December 2 in the build-up to the Snowball Derby. Stay tuned for more details of that episode.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Southeast Editor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 photo