Devon Morgan used a strategic call just before halfway to gain track position, then held off Brandon Wilkinson over several late-race restarts to win the first-ever Speed51 Elite Snowball Derby sim race at Five Flags Speedway Wednesday night.
After working through the field from his 11th starting spot and with the halfway competition yellow just 10 laps out, Morgan decided to hit pit road for tires to undercut the field and gain valuable track position for the final 110-laps. It proved to be the right strategy call for the multi-disciplined South Carolina racer, who took the lead at the halfway break and never looked back.
“I knew the way the first half went, the second half was going to be about the same type of deal there, so I wanted to get track position even if I didn’t take any tires, I think it would’ve still been better,” Morgan said on the broadcast. “I was talking with a few guys there and when we had that yellow, it was the right call to go down and get four tires right then and there.”
Snowflake 100 winner Alex McCollum and runner-up Jake Matheson looked to be the class of the field early on, but pit strategy forced them toward the back of the field. Matheson would crash out before halfway, while McCollum and fellow early frontrunner Max Cookson were involved in a wreck on Lap 160 of the 200-lap race.
Morgan admitted he normally struggles during the extra-distance sim races due to strategy calls. Being able to finally break through for a win of significant magnitude and $151 carried extra meaning.
“This is definitely big, these big Super Late Model events that have been coming up at the end of the year, I’ve been struggling in them,” he stated. “I’ve been really fast, just haven’t made the big strategy call that I needed to. It finally feels good to make a good call and be able to win one.”
Sunday night’s Street Stock winner Brandon Wilkinson followed the same strategy as Morgan. Wilkinson never let Morgan get too far away over the final half of the race, and even had one final shot on a restart with three to go before a pileup at the tail of the field in turns one and two forced the race to end under yellow.
“I initially thought Devon was going to be good but I definitely knew we were going to be good and that’s what mattered,” Wilkinson said. “We had a 10-lap green flag run before the competition yellow so I tried to save the tires as much as I could and keep the sticker on them. We restarted fifth afterwards and it was history from there for sure.
“If it went green off turn two down into three there, there would’ve been no difference because I would’ve made sure we were even coming off turn four because I owe him one from a couple months ago,” he added. “What can you really say about a kid like Devon, he’s just fast, he races you good most of the time, and he’s alright when he gets raced back. Congrats to him, the kid’s just unreal. We grew up racing four or five years together, so it’s cool to be 1-2 with a kid I’ve run side-by-side with more than I’d like to remember.”
Kenny Kibbey, Ryan Blanchard, and Jacob Harberts rounded out the top five.
Click here to see a replay of the Speed51 Elite Snowball Derby.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com