For the first time in Snowball Derby history, Wednesday night played host to a feature race, and the fans in attendance did not leave disappointed. The 50-lap Pure Stock show featured multiple lead changes, side-by-side action, and some anxious moments as well.
When the dust settled, it was 2015 winner Robert Loper holding off one of the Five Flags Speedway favorites Tommie Blocker in a late-race duel for the first win of the 50th Annual Snowball Derby weekend. The triumph was well worth it given some recent unfortunate circumstances.
“It means a whole lot to me,” the emotional Irvington, Alabama racer mentioned in victory lane. “I had a lot of close people pass away this year. Actually they just told me when I pulled up in winners’ circle my best friend’s grandmother passed just a while ago.”
Before Blocker entered the picture, Loper, who gained the lead early on had to contend with Chad Robinson, swapping the top spot on multiple occasions. That all changed with 10 laps remaining when the slower car of Robert Riley lost control in turn one. The leaders needed to evade the spinning car and Robinson made a nasty impact with the Riley machine.
“I saw (Robinson) going low and there was only one of us that was going to make it,” Loper explained. “All I could do was hope it was me.
“I hate that Chad had that happen. I feel like me and him could have had a good race the last few laps. I had plenty more car. I was waving at him down the back straightaway. I was having fun. I ain’t gonna lie.”
When the event resumed, Blocker gave it all that he could to find a way around Loper to no avail, a feat Loper was proud of given the 2017 season runner-up in the division’s positive reputation and respectful driving style.
“Tommie Blocker is always a real good strong competitor,” Loper added. “You don’t ever have to worry about him driving you dirty so I knew we could put on a good race and make it to the finish the way it was.”
Finishing behind Loper and Blocker was Sarah Dority, a popular Pensacola driver who steadily worked her way up to the podium spot for one of her best finishes of the year.
Race fans can watch the race on-demand now as part of the five-day Snowball Derby video ticket on Speed51.com.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Central NY & PA Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Pure Stock Snowball Derby Finishing Order
1 15 Robert Loper
2 71 Tommie Blocker
3 91 Sarah Dority
4 42 Brandin Sidner
5 97 Robert Barber
6 30 Bobby Suarez
7 29 Matt Thompson
8 86 Jonathan Smith
9 19 Darrel MacDonald
10 27H James Hollingworth
11 49 Jay Whalen
12 10 Chad Robinson
13 95 Robert Riley
14 22 Kevin Merritt
15 21 Butch Harville
16 11L Cameron Leytham
17 24 Caleb Burkett
18 22H Michael Hurst
19 16 Rocky Boyd
20 1 Corey Boddle
21 52 Robert Balkum