Perry Patino was recently named to the 2020 NASCAR Drive for Diversity driver development program, a new opportunity for the young Alabama driver. Before he embarks on that opportunity, Patino hopes to score a big win in the Allen Turner Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway (FL) during the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby.
After taking part in a two-day combine in October at Daytona International Speedway (FL) and New Smyrna Speedway (FL), Patino was one of six drivers selected for the program. The honor gives Patino plenty of excitement heading into the 2020 season.
“It’s awesome. We’ve been trying to make that program for four years,” Patino said. “We went down to the combine last year and didn’t get selected but they wanted me to come back. They just told us to keep racing and grinding it out. We ended up going to the combine this year and being picked as one of the Late Model Stock drivers. Hopefully, we’ll run good and they’ll put us in the K&N deal. You have to take every opportunity you can, and this is a huge opportunity.”
Next for Patino, however, is the Snowflake 100. Patino’s spirits are high entering the race despite a trying season with the Allen Turner Pro Late Models at Five Flags. In three starts, Patino never qualified worse than fifth, but never finished better than 15thdue to mechanical issues or being involved in incidents on track.
The Montgomery native knows he and his team have the speed to compete for the Snowflake 100 win.
“We’ve had a ton of speed all year and have never been able to capitalize,” Patino told Speed51. “Either we’ve had blown motors or gotten in wrecks, get the pole and get wrecked by a lapped car, just dumb stuff happens. I’m more confident than ever. We haven’t even gone down to test. We know what we have, so we’ll go down there and try to stay out of trouble.”
Patino also believes the familiarity gained from competing throughout the season at Five Flags will give him a leg up on some of the top Pro Late Model racers in the country will who make the trip to Pensacola to be a part of the Snowflake 100.
“Some of these guys coming from California are shooting in the blind to an extent. Even if you don’t race good or finish the races and have a horrible season, it helps so much as far as the stress level. Instead of worrying about having to make it or qualifying, you can focus on your car.”
Patino has been part of the Snowflake 100 field for each of the last two years. While he couldn’t say how much experience from those two races specifically will benefit him, he believes lessons learned throughout those two weeks will help him in 2019.
“Not so much as races before can help you a little bit, but I’ve been fortunate to make the ‘Flake the last two years. The first year we went down there we tested all day Wednesday and Thursday and screwed ourselves out of a good race car over-testing. Having that experience and a good baseline from throughout the year, shake it down a little bit.
“It would be huge. It would give a team I’m working with confidence, ‘Hey, this kid is good.’ Just give them momentum and belief that I’m not going to joke around, I’m serious about it. We have a couple of Rev Racing stickers on the cars, so I’m sure they’d love that promotion.”
“It’s been the goal for the last three years for me and my team, to run as good we can at the Derby. That’s where every single eye in the sport is watching.”
Race fans looking to make the pilgrimage to Pensacola for the Snowball Derby can order tickets for the event now at 5flagsspeedway.com.
Thanks to Speed51’s Black Friday sale, you can now also purchase a four-day video ticket for the Snowball Derby for $79.99 and receive a free three-month subscription to the Speed51 Network. Click hereto take advantage of this sale now.
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: Speed51 photo