Track records were broken once again in the intense qualifying session for the 48th Annual Snowball Derby. The fastest of them all, however, will not start from the pole on Sunday.
Christopher Bell turned in a blistering time of 16.027 seconds late in the session, but the body on the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota was found in violation of Approved Body Configuration (ABC) rules in post-qualifying technical inspection.
Bell’s crew chief Chris Gabehart, a former Super Late Model driver and Snowball Derby starter himself, explained what had occurred from the KBM standpoint.
“What is happening is the rear suspension components have gotten really creative on these cars and moving around a lot,” Gabehart told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “When you hang the body with the chassis square you get a legal result, but when you start putting parts on it that gets the chassis out of square that may be square on the racetrack or some variation of that, you can get an illegal result.
“The body is hung properly, but the suspension is underneath it in such a way that it looks hung improperly. There are no rules to catch that, except for this seven inch rule from the wheel to the body.”
One of the issues that Gabehart and team had with the rule is that it did not get checked until after qualifying concluded with no warning. Tech Director Ricky Brooks explained that with all of the specifications teams are expected to meet, his team can only inspect so much going in.
“I can’t check everything on every car,” Brooks responded. “We do a real good thorough job, but it’s no different than after a race. I could have waited until after the race to check it, but I checked it tonight so now they’ve got a chance to get in the race.”
Bell has shown the entire week that he has one of the fastest cars, but the Norman, Oklahoma driver will now have to climb from the back of the last chance race. Only if he is able to finish in one of the top four positions in the last chance race Saturday will he start Sunday’s Snowball Derby.
“I’ve got a lot to prove tomorrow,” Bell simply stated. “Just got to make the most of it and try to get in the race the hard way.”
The disqualification gives Wisconsin driver Ty Majeski the pole, one year after a wild spin in qualifying sent him to the last chance race to make the show.
“What a difference a year makes,” Majeski said upon finding out the news. “We’ve had really good racecars all year. Qualified really good in the Midwest and it’s really cool to come down here and show the Southern boys what we can do. Definitely not the way I wanted the track record, but I guess rules are the rules and we’ll take it.”
Now, confidence is high for the two-time ARCA Midwest Tour champion and 2015 New Smyrna (FL) Governor’s Cup winner.
“We’ve had good longevity in the car,” Majeski noted. “For example, we ran our fastest lap in the Governor’s Cup with 16 to go. The racecar is there and we just need to keep the fenders on it, have a good clean pit stops, and make minimal mistakes and we’ll be alright.”
Chase Elliott will now join Majeski on the front row with Preston Peltier and Dalton Sargeant making up the second row.
Not only was Bell’s time disallowed, but defending winner John Hunter Nemechek was found to have the same issue.
“We used one of our tuning tools to move our right rear trailing arm just a little bit to try and get some more turn in it, and I guess that we’re not allowed to touch our rear ends at all,” Nemechek explained. “Ricky threw us out for something that really doesn’t help because it sucks the air out from underneath the cars.”
Nemechek will not have to run the last chance race due to receiving a Snowball Derby provisional as the most recent race winner.
Bell and Nemechek’s misfortune was a lucky break for Noah Gragson and Corey LaJoie, who both were on the outside looking in and are now in the field for Sunday’s big race.
For more on the story and further comments from the major players including Christopher Bell, subscribe to the Speed51 Network.
The Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100 takes center stage on Saturday, December 5 as the top Pro Late Model racers in the country qualify and battle for 100 laps at Five Flags. In addition, Saturday’s action features the final 50-lap qualifying event for Snowball Derby drivers to make one last effort to qualify for the 300-lap Super Late Model race. The Better Built Tool Box Pro Trucks will also have a 50-lap feature on Snowball Derby Saturday.
Then on Sunday, December 6, the green flag will drop on the 48th Annual Snowball Derby at 2 p.m. CT at Pensacola, Florida’s Five Flags Speedway.
Fans unable to make it to Pensacola, Florida for the Snowball Derby can watch all of the action through a live online TV style pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51 TV. A four-day video ticket can be purchased now for $59.99 allowing fans to watch all of the action from Five Flags Speedway. Single-day video tickets are also available. Visit Speed51.com for more information.
For more information on the 48th Annual Snowball Derby weekend at Five Flags Speedway, visit www.snowballderby.com.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Central NY & PA Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
48th Annual Snowball Derby
5 Flags Speedway
December 4, 2015
|32||7||Paul Shafer, Jr.||16.353|
|56||7||John DeAngelis, Jr.||16.854|
|57||42||Dennis Prunty||No Time|
|58||6||Tim Martin||No Time|
|DQ||8||John Hunter Nemechek||16.198|