Over the past two decades, Boris Jurkovic has gained a reputation as being one of the grizzly veterans on the Midwest Super Late Model scene. However, the past couple of years have seen the Illinois driver struggle to keep up his stride. That all changed in 2019 as Jurkovic purchased a brand-new Super Late Model that has given him confidence and the hope that he can reach Snowball Derby Victory Lane this December.
Despite running a limited amount of Super Late Model races in 2019, Jurkovic has finished strong each and every time. Among his wins, he added another Battle at Berlin 251 victory to his resume in August.
Jurkovic credits his improvement to the new chassis he purchased and the support he’s received from Rowdy Manufacturing, leaving no doubt that his new Rowdy No. 53 Super Late Model has helped to get his team back to where they were running a decade ago when he was capable of winning each and every race.
“I think it has had a dramatic effect. It’s pretty awesome,” Jurkovic told Speed. “I struggled for the last few years here with my last chassis and couldn’t make things work. Out of the box we have been very competitive with this car, it has been a lot of fun.”
After two top 10 finishes in two starts at Five Flags Speedway (FL) in the Blizzard Series this season, Jurkovic is finishing his Snowball Derby preparation brimming with confidence.
“It’s going well, we’re just finishing up the car, then we’ll organize the trailer and get ready to rock and roll,” he stated. “Everything should be ready, we’ll relax over Thanksgiving, go down and get a couple of laps on Saturday.”
Despite his pre-race confidence, Jurkovic is placing a huge emphasis on locking into the top 30 in Friday qualifying come Snowball Derby week December 4-8 at Five Flags. After not getting in on time trials and getting swept up in a crash in the Last Chance Race last year, most of his focus Thursday and Friday will be spent on getting those critical two qualifying laps.
“In order to run good at the show or have a chance to win, you have to get in. That’s pretty much where our efforts are going to be the first half of the week this year.”
Should they make it in, Jurkovic is confident that the No. 53 camp can make the switch over to race trim without too much trouble. Showing what his car could do over 400 laps at the Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN) less than a month ago, it all comes down to having the know-how to take on the Derby’s treacherous 300-lap distance.
“I feel I’ve always been good at the long-run races. We just try to stay clean and not have too many problems during the race, make sure we have a good car, and have the track position to have a chance at winning the race. I think the most critical times are after pit stops, you get shuffled back, and you have to be very alert of your surroundings. You have to rely on your spotter and crew to tell you what’s around you, so you can stay clear coming through traffic.”
As for the pit stops themselves, Jurkovic and the rest of starting field will have one less concern come December, with the switch from live to controlled pit stops. While Jurkovic is glad to have them off his to-do list, he is sorry to see an aspect of the competition off the table in 2019.
“It’s kind of mixed. I’m happy we don’t have to spend the money for sure. I think that’s brought a lot of people back to the race. For the fans it might not be as exciting, but as far as the race it takes the speed of the pit stop out of the strategy, it’s not as random.”
In the end, Jurkovic just hopes that everything will come together and give him a chance at the ultimate Super Late Model prize.
“Snowball Derby is a big deal no matter where you’re from. There’s so many great racers and it’s a tough track. Just to go down there and be competitive is a nice feather for your cap. Winning the race would be the ultimate. I’ve already won a couple of big races in my time, and I’m 50 now. I’m looking forward to our chances, to be that old and still be competitive speaks volumes.”
Race fans looking to make the pilgrimage to Pensacola for the Snowball Derby can order tickets for the event now at 5flagsspeedway.com.
For fans unable to make the trip, they can tune in to Speed51’s pay-per-view broadcast of the event. 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: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51Photos.com