Jeremy Pate showed up at the Snowball Derby Preview Saturday night at Five Flags Speedway (FL) excited to shake down his car with several brand new parts and pieces. He left with $500 and the confidence of setting the quickest lap of the two time trial sessions at the precursor for the biggest event in Super Late Model racing.
Pate’s time of 16.348 seconds around the Pensacola half-mile was the best time of the evening session, which featured two 10-minute rounds for each division that will compete in the 52ndAnnual Snowball Derby on December 4-8.
The hometown Pensacola native was ecstatic to come away from the day of practice knowing he had a fast race car out of the box.
“It’s just been a successful day,” Pate told Speed51. “We brought a car with a fresh motor, fresh transmission, fresh rear-end. We just basically came down here to shake it down and make sure we weren’t going to have any issues with it. Now we can go back and do our final maintenance.”
The speed shown throughout the day gives Pate plenty of confidence going into the Snowball Derby in two weeks’ time.
“The car performed right out of the trailer. We brought some used tires from New Smyrna and the car had speed. It’s just gotten better as the day progressed. We’re looking forward to it. We’ve got a great Fury Race Car, and we hope it works out.”
Proceedings at the Snowball Derby Preview were delayed in the early afternoon hours as persistent rains brought a halt to on-track activity. That may have been a blessing in disguise for Snowball Derby combatants such as Pate, as it offered a rare chance to compete in conditions similar to those seen during Snowball Derby qualifying.
The pressure-packed qualifying session always takes place in the hours just after sunset at Five Flags Speedway on Friday night, the first time the Super Late Models compete under the lights during Derby Week. The slick, dewy track surface seen tonight mirrored that racers will see on Friday, December 6.
“Later tonight, with the dew that set in, it’s so slick,” said Pate. “I’ve had to go out first before. Just preparing for that, it puts you at such a disadvantage and there’s no way to prepare for it. We won’t do anything the week of the Derby until Friday night that will duplicate this weather. That’s why you have to come to this.”
Dylan Fetcho set fast time for the Pro Late Models during the Preview, with a time of 16.991 seconds to beat out teammate Stacey Crain. The Tennessee racer was pleased to take advantage of the track time made available at the Preview.
“We’ve been pretty fast all day,” said Fetcho. “We’re taking in a bunch. That’s why we’re here, we’re here to learn. You always want as many laps as you can get before the race. We’re learning a lot.”
All divisions that will be in action for the Snowball Derby offered cash bonuses to the fastest driver of the time trial sessions. Other fast drivers included Kyle Purvis (Modifieds), Josh Hicks (Pro Trucks), Jason Welch (Outlaw Stocks), B.J. Leytham (Sportsman) and Daryl McDonald (Pure Stocks).
Race fans who missed the Snowball Derby Preview can watch an on-demand replay of Speed51’s live, free broadcast of the evening’s time trial sessions by clicking here.
Race fans interested in taking part in the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby presented by BJ’s Wholesale Club can visit 5flagsspeedway.com for ticket information.
Those unable to make the trip to Five Flags Speedway for the event can tune in live to Speed51’s broadcast of the race. Now is the perfect time to order your video ticket and take advantage of early-bird savings.
To order your early bird Snowball Derby four-day video package today, click here and use discount code “snowbird.” Individual video tickets are available for each day of racing; however, a four-day early bird video ticket offers a total savings of $38.
Individual video tickets can be purchased now at the regular price by clicking here.
For more information on the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby, visit Speed51’s Snowball Central.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51Photos.com