Out of all the drivers that can say they are “entirely focused” on the 51st Annual Snowball Derby, Garrett Jones may be the most focused of them all. After running comprehensive schedules in both Super and Pro Late Models since 2013, the No. 88 team scaled back this season and put much of their focus on the Snowball Derby.
Starting off with a top ten in the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway in March, Jones has only competed in the four-race Deep South Cranes Blizzard Series at Five Flags Speedway.
With limited races under his belt in 2018, Jones is understandably eager to get down to Pensacola, Florida for Derby week.
“We’re definitely very excited. We’re ready to get back to the race track since it’s been a while. Me, my dad, and everyone on the team is looking forward to getting back out there,” Jones told Speed51.com.
With the team looking to save money and with Jones attending school at UNC-Charlotte, the Blizzard Series seemed to be an ideal fit, given his love for the track and having the best shot possible at the Derby.
“We ran the Five Flags schedule because it works for us and we love that race track,” Jones explained. “There’s lots of reasons to run that schedule, but the main thing is for the Derby. Just trying to better ourselves for the Snowball Derby, I feel like our stats from previous Derby’s don’t really do us justice. We’ve always had really fast cars, just for whatever reason our luck at the Derby hasn’t changed for the better. I’m confident we got some fast race cars for when we unload down there, and I’m really ready to get down there.”
Jones has been in the Late Model game for quite a couple of years now, but at Age 19 he is at a prime age to seize a major opportunity in racing should it present itself. Winning the Snowball Derby would do wonders, but Jones knows he must first overcome his bad luck in December.
“We’ve all seen what it’s done for a few other guys, it really puts your name out there for a long time since it’s a huge win,” he stated. “As far as actually winning the race, you got to make it to the end and you’ve got to survive the whole race. That’s something we haven’t been able to do yet. We’ve had some bad luck, like last year when our motor blew up around Lap 50 when we were coming up from the back of the field. If we could get some luck and win, I don’t know where it would take me, but we’ve seen with like Erik Jones. Wherever it would take me it would be awesome and I want to find out.”
After running Five Flags almost exclusively in 2018, Jones has been able to focus on preparing for the Snowball Derby much more than any other driver. But he also knows that he is trading away one advantage for another.
“I feel like being able to focus on one track helps us focus and unload with faster cars right off the truck. But I feel like if we were able to run the diverse schedule we used to be able to run we could also be faster. Just because you’re racing every weekend and stuff like that. There’s ups and downs either way; it’s just now we are only able to run the Blizzard Series, so we take what we have and we run with it.”
The good news for Jones is that consistency has been on his side in the Blizzard Series, as he’s finished in the top 10 in all four races, with half of those being top fives. Now he is looking to turn that consistency into a Tom Dawson Trophy.
“The last Blizzard race and all the Blizzard races really this year, we’ve been strong, I’m really excited about. It will be interesting to see how the weather is going to play into the track is, and we’re ready to get to work.”
The 51st Annual Snowball Derby will take place on Wednesday, November 28 through Sunday, December 2 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL. For more information regarding the event, visit Snowball Central presented by Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor
-Photo credit: Speed51.com