Fresh off his Pro All Stars Series National Championship, Derek Griffith traveled to the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway as the sole New England representative in the Super Late Model division. The Hudson, New Hampshire driver’s goals were well grounded coming into the weekend, with qualifying into the top 30 during Friday time trials being the primary goal.
At the end of the night Friday, Griffith was sitting 26th on the scoring charts. A little close to the bubble but in the show for the 51st Snowball Derby. He had managed to do what even former Snowball Derby winners had been able to achieve that night. The magnitude of the accomplishment being very clear.
“It’s huge and it takes off a lot of pressure for sure. Everyone here is a somebody, but I was amazed by all the people that were behind me,” Griffith told Speed51.com. “Augie Grill, Steve Wallace, Stephen Nasse, and a ton more that didn’t even make it in. I’ve never been here before, but was cool to be good enough to make it in.”
But in the midst of the accomplishment was the knowledge that Griffith had made a mistake on his time trial run.
“I messed up on my qualifying lap, we definitely left speed on the table," said Griffith, a member of the Kuwlicki Development Driver Program. "In three and four I got down on the flat and unloaded the car coming off on the first lap and lost all the straightaway speed going into my second lap. It was kind of a bummer, I think we would’ve been top 15 if I didn’t do that.”
After days of testing and practice, Griffith felt the LCM Motorsports crew had gotten their new Fury car to the position it needed to be in to make the field. With this knowledge, the crew had opted for a conservative setup, not too far off from their race setup. But this approach did leave Griffith with a little concern.
“When we were practicing, I figured we were going to be alright, but I was still a little bit worried because everyone just makes mock runs. They run those laps just to be fast; we set our car up to be mostly the same as it would be in the race. I don’t know if we changed anything other than freeing the car up a little bit, there’s no real difference.”
Now with their primary goal achieved, it’s just a matter of seeing what the No. 12G can do over 300 laps on Sunday.
“We have 300 laps to figure it out, the pressure is off from getting in. Look at Cassius Clark last year, barely made the show last year and drove all the way to finish fifth. It’s just one step at a time. I think we’re in good shape with what we got, we just need to see what this Fury car does on the long run.”
As for the home front, the response has been overwhelming from the DG12 fanbase, with friends and family rooting the team on while keeping an eye on the team over Speed51.com’s PPV broadcast.
“Everyone’s already has been sending in their pictures of watching the broadcast, they’re all excited. My Facebook has been blowing up, I got calls and texts from everyone back home saying congrats and stuff. To see someone like Ben Rowe and the career he’s had to not make it last year, then us come down and have a good start is awesome.”
Race fans can watch Griffith compete in the 51st Annual Snowball Derby by tuning into Speed51.com's pay-per-view broadcast on Sunday afternoon. Live video tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com