The 50th Annual Snowball Derby is shaping up to be one of the biggest in its history across all classes of racing, including the Open-Wheel Modifieds which will feature an expanded 75-lap feature on Friday, December 1 following Snowball Derby Super Late Model qualifying.
Once again a number of the best Modified racers in the Southeast will head to Five Flags Speedway, including one particular big name who will be making his first ever appearance.
Cody Stickler has been a champion across eastern Florida in different Modified series the past few years, including New Smyrna Speedway’s World Series. But he has never been to a race in Pensacola. To prepare, Stickler has been testing his Modified ahead of time to get ready.
“It will be tough, we always have good luck pretty much wherever we go, but it’s my first time here so I’m still learning the track. It’s probably the toughest track I’ve been to so far. Took me about 10 to 15 good laps to actually figure it out and get a line,” Stickler told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
Stickler comes in with some momentum, winning the Modified feature during the Florida Governor’s Cup at New Smyrna after a solid season up and down the Sunshine State. Following the test, the car is ready to go and is now in the hands of Stickler himself.
“As far as the car goes it’s really good, I don’t think we can be much better. I think we’re ready for them. We left the car in Pensacola because there’s nothing else we can do. A Snowball Derby win would be great, that would be the best win ever for sure.”
On the other hand, Donnie Hamrac has a boatload of experience tackling the Five Flags highbanks, where he won three straight Derby Modified features from 2013 to 2015. For 2016, the No. 8 team brought a new car which gave them trouble and it has taken nearly a year to get it to where Hamrac likes it.
“This car we have ran its first race at the Derby last year and we didn’t look too good after winning three in a row and coming in with this new car and not winning,” Hamrac admitted. “We’ve struggled a little this year, we do have three wins. But after Montgomery, Charlie Phillips our setup guy took the car to the shop, cut some bars out of it and moved some bars around. Went to Opp and got the win there. The car is a little better, went to practice it a few weeks ago and we got it pretty close.”
Hamrac also knows that the car and team will have to be at their best in order to tackle the stout field, which also features a number of Late Model drivers.
“The race gets better competition every year. You’ve got Choquette, Augie Grill will be there, some other Late Model drivers, they all like to run the Modifieds. It’s a fun class. It’d be great to get the win against them, especially this being the fourth anniversary of our first win, it would be sweet.”
To see the Modifieds and the rest of the action from the Snowball Derby, order Speed51.com’s live, television-style broadcast by clicking here.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA, RI & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com