Ranking the Field: 53rd Annual Snowball Derby

The biggest Super Late Model race of them all, the Snowball Derby, will take place for the 53rd time Sunday, December 6 at Five Flags Speedway.  This year’s entry list is an absolutely packed one, featuring one of the most star-studded fields in the event’s history.

 

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Here is our ranking of the field for this year’s Snowball Derby.

 

#1) Stephen Nasse – Last year, Nasse was the first across the finish line to take the checkered flag.  This year, the Southern Super Series champion hopes to do the same, and this time take home the Tom Dawson Trophy without any issues in technical inspection.

 

#2) Ty Majeski – Majeski has led 330 laps in his career at the Snowball Derby, but is still seeking that elusive first victory.  The Wisconsin native has three podium finishes in the event, and was on the verge of a breakthrough win in last year’s event before a late-race incident dashed those hopes.

 

#3) Kyle Busch – Busch hasn’t met his expectations in Super Late Model starts this year, and missed out on a chance to compete at Five Flags in October due to a weather postponement.  However, there is no counting out the two-time Derby winner any time he shows up in Pensacola.

 

#4) Bubba Pollard – Pollard is another driver still seeking his first Snowball Derby trophy, going into his 13th start in the race.  Joining forces with TK Racing adds an unknown element to Pollard this year, but you’ll have a hard time finding a driver hungrier for a Derby win.

 

#5) Chase Elliott – We haven’t seen Chase Elliott at the Snowball Derby since 2015, but he did score his second victory in the event that year.  Elliott is the first reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion to enter the Snowball Derby since Bobby Allison in 1983.

 

#6) Casey Roderick – Coming off a victory in the prestigious All American 400 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, Roderick enters this year’s Derby with his confidence at an all-time high.  The new owner/driver also performed well in select Blizzard Series appearances at Five Flags in 2020.

 

#7) Derek Thorn – Last year, Thorn won the Allen Turner Snowflake 100 for Pro Late Models and started on the pole for the Snowball Derby.  After a dominant season on the West Coast and a strong showing in the All American 400, Thorn will be a name to watch on Sunday.

 

#8) Carson Hocevar – Hocevar has struggled at times at Five Flags Speedway, but 2020 has been a career-defining year for the Michigan driver.  With wins in the Winchester 400 and Redbud 400 among those on his resume for the year, Hocevar is red-hot coming to Five Flags in 2020.

 

#9) Chandler Smith – The Georgia young gun scored two ARCA Menards Series wins in 2020, but he also had strong showings in limited Late Model appearances, including a runner-up finish in the All American 400.

 

#10) Noah Gragson – Gragson has not competed in a Super Late Model since 2018.  However, his last ride put him in the history books, winning the 2018 Snowball Derby.  Gragson will look to become a two-time winner this weekend.

 

#11) Matt Craig – Very few drivers can say they’ve won championships in five consecutive seasons.  Craig has done just that in the Carolinas, between the PASS South Super Late Models and the CARS Super Late Model Tour.

 

#12) Jake Garcia – Last year, Garcia stunned fans with a runner-up finish in the Snowball Derby.  He is once again at Five Flags with Snowball Derby-winning crew chief and driver Ricky Turner in his corner, looking to finish one spot better.

 

#13) Travis Braden – Braden is the reigning Snowball Derby champion, but at one time we weren’t even sure if we’d get to see the West Virginia native defend his title in 2020.  Partnered with Jake Keaton Racing for this year’s event, there are a lot of unknowns for the new combination at this year’s Derby.

 

#14) Cole Butcher – The Nova Scotian has started on the front row and finished in the top 10 in each of the past two Snowball Derbies.  Butcher hopes to keep that streak alive in 2020.

 

#15) Dan Fredrickson – Fredrickson rallied from a win in the Last Chance Qualifier to finish ninth in last year’s Derby.  With some additions to the notebook, Fredrickson will be shooting to put the full weekend together this year.

 

#16) Jeremy Doss – Doss has cut back on his Super Late Model racing in recent years, but he’s still a name to watch any time he’s at the race track.  He will also be bringing his Modified to Five Flags coming off a championship season in the Spears Manufacturing Modified Series presented by Lucas Oil.

 

#17) Grant Enfinger – Enfinger made the Championship 4 in the NASCAR Truck Series this year after a clutch win at Martinsville Speedway.  Now, he makes his return to the Snowball Derby, competing for the first time since 2016.

 

#18) Preston Peltier – Peltier hasn’t raced much in 2020, but he knows how to get around Five Flags Speedway.  The former Derby pole sitter scored a career-best fifth place finish last year.

 

#19) Corey Heim – Heim started the year with a victory in the CRA SpeedFest 200 for Super Late Models at Crisp Motorsports Park.  He’ll now look to close the year with an even bigger win in the Snowball Derby.

 

#20) Casey Johnson – Now a four-time TUNDRA Super Late Model Series champion and two-time ARCA Midwest Tour champion, Johnson is making his Snowball Derby debut.  How will the Midwest standout fare in his first attempt at the crown jewel event?

 

#21) Ross Kenseth – The son of Matt Kenseth, Ross Kenseth makes his first Snowball Derby appearance since 2014.  Kenseth’s best career finishing in the event is a third-place showing in 2011.

 

#22) Cayden Lapcevich – Lapcevich has done well in his first attempt at several major Super Late Model events this year, with a top-10 finish in the Winchester 400 and the Gandrud Auto Group 250.

 

#23) Jesse Dutilly – One of the local standouts looking to keep the Tom Dawson Trophy in the Sunshine State, Dutilly is making his third Snowball Derby appearance.  Dutilly finished fourth last year in the Derby.

 

#24) Sammy Smith – The youngster from Iowa finished third in last year’s Allen Turner Snowflake 100.  He’ll try to bring that success over to the Super Late Model this December.

 

#25) Derek Griffith – Griffith was the hottest name in town during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing in February, and he’s scored wins during the year with PASS North and the Granite State Pro Stock Series.

 

#26) Augie Grill – The two-time Snowball Derby champion hasn’t scored a top-10 finish in the event since 2014.  He hopes to change that in 2020.

 

#27) Jeremy Pate – Pate had a shot at the Southern Super Series championship until the final race of the season at Nashville.  However, the Snowball Derby has been unkind to the veteran racer over the years, with just one top-10 and seven starts out of 13 attempts.

 

#28) Derek Kraus – Kraus has made the field each of the past five years in the Snowball Derby, but has yet to complete every lap of the race.  A better starting position (his career-best is 20th) could do wonders for Kraus’ Sunday performance.

 

#29) Hunter Robbins – Robbins made his Snowball Derby return last year, finishing eighth.  He has two top-fives and four top-10s in nine Snowball Derby appearances.

 

#30) Kaden Honeycutt – Honeycutt has not had the finishes he’s hoped for in two Snowball Derby starts, coming home 30th and 26th in those two races.  However, he has two podium finishes in his last two Blizzard Series starts of the year.

 

#31) Connor Okrzesik – Okrzesik was part of a photo finish in the Allen Turner Pro Late Model season finale in October, taking a narrow victory over Jake Finch.  He finished fourth in the Snowball Derby in 2018, but also has a pair of 30th-place finishes in the event.

 

#32) Dalton Zehr – Zehr finished 11th in his Snowball Derby debut one year ago.  Originally from Florida, Zehr now races out of Michigan and won the 2018 ARCA Midwest Tour title.

 

#33) Daniel Dye – The 2019 New Smyrna Speedway track champion finished 13th in his Snowflake 100 debut last year.  Now, he will take a shot at the Snowball Derby.

 

#34) Austin Nason – Another front-runner from the Midwest, Nason is always a threat to win on the ARCA Midwest Tour.  An early accident brought a premature end to Nason’s Derby debut in 2019.

 

#35) Mason Diaz – Diaz will be trying to make his first Snowball Derby start.  He has previously competed four times in the Snowflake 100, with a best finish of 10th.

 

#36) Boris Jurkovic – Sometimes, even the biggest names have roller coaster rides during the Snowball Derby.  Jurkovic has seen everything from top-10 finishes to missing the show over the years.  His career-best finish in the event is seventh in 2011.

 

#37) Kyle Plott – The Georgia driver has made six Snowball Derby starts, but has yet to finish in the top 10.  He hopes to improve on his career-best of 18th in 2020.

 

#38) Gabe Sommers – It’s been a year of firsts for Sommers, as he has made his first trips south to events such as CRA SpeedFest and the All American 400.  The Snowball Derby will be another in that list of firsts.

 

#39) Kodie Conner – Last year’s PRA Tours Super Late Model champion, Kodie Conner has increased his stock in 2020 with strong runs in major events, including starting on the pole for the All American 400.  He hopes to close out the year with another strong showing.

 

#40) John DeAngelis, Jr. – Another Wisconsin driver making the trip down for the Derby, DeAngelis has competed in each of the last two Derbies.  He will be looking to improve on a 13th-place finish in 2018.

 

#41) Logan Boyett – One of the local heroes, Boyett is a Pensacola native returning to the Snowball Derby after a year away.  Boyett is another driver who hasn’t caught a break in the Derby to date, with a best finish of 13th in 2015.

 

#42) Chris Davidson – Texas’ Chris Davidson has been making the trip to the Snowball Derby almost annually since 1999.  However, he has just one top-five and two top-10s to show for it, with a best finish of fourth in 2002.  Winning this year’s Allen Turner Pro Late Model championship may have been what Davidson needed to get the Pensacola monkey off his back.

 

#43) Paul Shafer, Jr. – The charismatic Shafer snapped a winless drought earlier this year with an ARCA Midwest Tour victory at Grundy County Speedway.  “Paulie” has made the show twice in four Snowball Derby appearances.

 

#44) Michael House – Tennessee’s Michael House made his first trip to the Snowball Derby, but was unable to make the show.  He will give it another shot this year in his second attempt.

 

#45) Hudson Halder – A couple of weeks ago, Halder pocketed $500 as the fastest driver at the Snowball Derby Preview.  While many teams forgo the practice session, it should still be a shot of confidence in the arm of the Derby rookie.

 

#46) Kyle McCallum – Another driver making his Snowball Derby debut, McCallum finished 19th in last year’s Snowflake 100.  He is a former runner-up in the Pro Late Model portion of The Rattler at South Alabama Speedway.

 

#47) Michael Atwell – After missing out on his first two Snowball Derby attempts, Atwell has successfully made the show each of the past two years.  Last year, he finished 21st, improving on a 28th-place finish in 2018.

 

#48) Perry Patino – Patino made his Snowball Derby debut in 2018, finishing 33rd in the event.  Patino will once again be part of the Derby after only competing in the Snowflake 100 last year.

 

#49) Kason Plott – Kason competed alongside brother Kyle Plott in 2017’s Snowball Derby, finishing 21st.  Kason missed out on the 2018 Derby and did not attempt last year’s race, but returns to the event in 2020.

 

#50) Kyle Bryant – The nephew of Five Flags Speedway owner Tim Bryant, Kyle Bryant made the Snowball Derby for the first time in 2018 after five unsuccessful attempts.  He will be looking to join the feature field once again this year.

 

#51) Ryan Crane – Ryan Crane is a former podium finisher in the Snowball Derby, with a third-place showing in 2006.  However, this will be Crane’s first appearance at the Derby since 2010.

 

#52) Justin Johnson – Primarily a Late Model Stock Car competitor, the Super Late Model will be a step out of the comfort zone for North Carolina’s Justin Johnson.  However, Johnson does have a top-10 finish in the 2011 PASS Mason-Dixon Meltdown to his credit, so it’s not completely uncharted territory.

 

#53) Kyle Sieg – Sieg will be making his first attempt in the Snowball Derby.  He has a pair of top-10 finishes in another major event in the Sunshine State, New Smyrna’s Florida Governors Cup 200.

 

#54) Bob Lyon – A veteran from the West Coast who won several races in the former NASCAR Southwest Series, Lyon will be making his first Snowball Derby attempt this year.  He also competed in the Blizzard Series in 2020, with a best finish of 17th.

 

-Text by Speed51 Staff

-Photo credit: Speed51Photos.com

Ranking the Field: 53rd Annual Snowball Derby