As entries for the 51st Annual Snowball Derby continue to roll in, one of the states that is always well-represented is the state of Wisconsin. This year, the Badger State will be represented by a handful of drivers including Dennis Prunty, who has entered the Snowball Derby for the first time in three years.
The veteran driver from Slinger, Wisconsin has seen success in his home state, but his experiences at the Snowball Derby have been a rollercoaster ride. In four previous Derby starts, he has a best finish of 14th, which came in his first attempt in 2009. After not qualifying for the race in 2015, he comes into this year’s race with a different approach.
“I’ve only finished this race one time and the main thing right now is to finish the race,” Prunty told Speed51.com. “The one thing we’re doing different is I always work on race trim and we’re definitely going to work on qualifying and try to get a good starting position and maybe keep out of the wrecks. That’s what we’re hoping to do this year, qualify better.”
The Snowball Derby is widely considered to have the most intense qualifying session in all of short track racing. Many drivers see qualifying for the Snowball Derby as the biggest challenge of the weekend; Prunty is no exception to this. With the different approach that he and his team are taking, qualifying for the biggest race of the year can present its difficulties, especially to a team like his.
“The biggest challenge is the qualifying session. You have to be fast for that,” Prunty stated. “These guys keep buying tires just to go practice qualifying runs for three laps and put tires on again. That’s hard for us to do. We have a little lower budget than most teams and I don’t like throwing tires away. That’ll definitely be a challenge for us.”
Prunty has gone to victory lane in some of Wisconsin’s biggest races, winning the Slinger Nationals in 2015 and the Dixieland 250 just one season later. With all the success that he’s had in his home state, he believes that a Snowball Derby will would be the biggest win of his career.
“It’ll definitely be the biggest win ever for us,” Prunty said. “When I won the Slinger Nationals, that was a home track for me so I go into that race expecting to win and run in the top five. When I won the Dixieland 250 at WIR (Wisconsin International Raceway) it was a Midwest Tour race, so that was big for me because I had never won a feature there before, so that was a big deal.
“But if I were to do it at the Snowball Derby, that would be amazing,” he continued. “It would change everything for me. It’s a whole different league and the best of the best is there from all around the country, and it would really mean a lot.”
The 51st Annual Snowball Derby is just around the corner, less than a month away. The 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 Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com