Former Daytona 500 Polesitter Making Snowball Derby Debut

After a one-year hiatus to focus on other endeavors in racing, DGR-Crosley Racing has returned to the Snowball Derby. After having Raphael Lessard, Todd Gilliland, and Chase Purdy compete for the team in the Derby and Snowflake 100 in the past, team owner David Gilliland will climb behind the wheel to make his debut in the biggest short track race in the country.


The former Daytona 500 polesitter has taken part in three races so far in 2019 between the NASCAR Truck Series and ARCA Menards Series, but it will be his first start in a Late Model since 2017, which also came at Five Flags Speedway.


As a native Californian, the Snowball Derby has always been a race he has paid close attention to.


“This is a great event and having started out Late Model racing out in California, this is a race I’ve always had circled on my calendar,” Gilliland told “We’ve come here as a car owner and now to be able to come here and race it, I’m really excited about it.”


While he has been to the Florida track several times for the Derby and Blizzard Series events, it will be just his second start at Five Flags Speedway. His previous start came in the first Blizzard Series race in 2017, scoring a 10th-place finish. Gilliland believes his previous experience as a car owner in the race will help him in his own attempt at the Tom Dawson Trophy.


“I’ve watched this race a lot, you’ve got to take care of your stuff,” he said. “Kyle (Busch) always seems to do well when he comes down here and it’s not always because he’s got the best car, it’s his experience. Hopefully we can put that to work and take care of our race car for 300 laps and be there at the end when it counts.”


With a stout field of drivers entered and one of the most intense qualifying sessions in all of motorsports looming, Gilliland will be looking to use practice sessions over the next couple days to get reacclimated to a Super Late Model in competitive conditions.


“It’s been a while since I’ve raced in one of these cars. I’ve tested them here lately quite a bit. I think it’ll be good, just keeping up with the race track,” he stated. “This race track is tricky and it changes, so really just keeping up with the race track.”


With NASCAR Xfinity Series and ARCA Menards Series wins to his credit, a Snowball Derby win would be just a big of a moment in his career.


“It would be up there for sure. The Late Model program is an important piece of our program and our company,” he stated. “To have a win here, to be able to hang it on our wall at the shop would be important for our whole team.”


Race fans unable to make the trip to Five Flags Speedway for the Snowball Derby can watch live on Speed51. Click here to order four-day or single ticket video tickets now.

For more information on the Snowball Derby, visit Snowball Central by clicking here.

-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit:

Former Daytona 500 Polesitter Making Snowball Derby Debut