MOORESVILLE, N.C. – As the 2015 race season wraps up, 16-year-old Super Late Model driver, Garrett Jones is getting set to make his second start in Five Flags Speedway’s Snowball Derby. Jones, who is coming off winning Rookie-Of-The-Year honors in the Southern Super Series, looks to use his past experience competing in the famed short track race on his way to Victory Lane.
Last year, Jones qualified for the Snowball Derby when he won the event’s “Last Chance Qualifier” race. Once the green flag dropped on the main event, Jones began racing his way through the field, but unfortunately got shoved into the inside wall by another competitor on Lap 40. After that Jones focused on survival to make it to the end of the race.
“Last year I learned that many people in the race try to win it in the first 50 laps,” explained Jones. “I got put into the inside wall last year on Lap 40. You really have to be on guard every lap with these drivers! I wasn’t making an aggressive move, but once I was door-to-door, the other driver turned left into me. However, this year I’m way more confident going into the race. I’ve race Super Late Models all year, and now have a car that has a good setup!”
Another change to this year’s trip to the Snowball Derby is the addition of Mike Garvey as Jones’ crew chief. Jones and Garvey have worked together for the majority of the 2015 season and developed a solid driver/crew chief relationship.
“Working with Mike has been great!” said Jones. “Mike is the setup king. His setups are just so drivable. My cars now turn and have drive off the corner. I think that is one of the reasons why my results picked up almost immediately after starting to work with Mike. He has so much experience being in the seat of a car. He knows what is fast. It’s a great feeling to be able to speak the same language with your crew chief!”
With more experience and a great set-up, one goal for Jones this weekend is to make the Derby on time. Last year Jones missed qualifying on time by 35 thousandths of a second – an experience he is looking to avoid this time around.
“At the Derby, you have to give qualifying 110 percent – no 125 percent of everything you have,” he stated. “I’m not going to miss the Derby this year on time by 35 thousandths of a second. I’ll either be in the race on time or wadded-up – that’s how important qualifying is here! Pensacola is such a finicky place too. There is no room for error. Pole night there can be so nerve-wracking! It can set the tone for the Derby, and you want the tone to be set correctly!”
As with any young driver, Jones know the prestige that comes along with competing and winning the Snowball Derby. Recent winners, including Erik Jones, John Hunter Nemechek and Chase Elliott, have seen their careers take off after a Derby victory. This fact is not lost on Jones.
“I drive race cars and this race is the biggest short-track race in the country!” Jones explained. “I’d be ecstatic to win it! You look at the drivers who have won it both recently and in the past, and the list is amazing. It has propelled some young drivers to the top in recent years. I’m going to be the next one the Derby takes to the top!”
Fans can learn more about Jones and follow his Snowball Derby weekend by visiting his Garrett Motorsports page on Facebook, following him on Twitter at @GarrettJones88 or Instagram via @GarrettJones88. They can also visit www.garrettmotorsports.com to find out more.
-Garrett Motorsports Press Release. Photo credit: