While Late Models did not take to the famed Five Flags Speedway (FL) half-mile on Wednesday, it was still an important day for those drivers and teams. After starting the morning with the ceremonial hauler parade and parking, technical inspection opened, and teams made their first passes through the “Room of Doom.”
Although the moniker has a long history in the Snowball Derby, technical inspection proved largely uneventful on Wednesday, with most teams needing just minor tweaks and fixes to comply with the event rules.
Austin Nason finished second in the ARCA Midwest Tour standings this year, with two wins to his credit. He comes to Pensacola this year for his first attempt at the Snowball Derby.
“I’m good. We just had one little track width issue,” Nason told Speed51.com. “We’re going to get it fixed here and hopefully go back through tomorrow. Everything else went perfect, so we’ll work on speed and making the race.”
“It’s a long day,” Nason added. “Waiting through to go through tech. We’re parked in the back, so you’ve got to wait. We were like the last one to get served back here, but we made it through without too many issues to fix, so we’ll fix them and get back through.”
Mason Diaz has been a part of Derby week before, with two starts in the Snowflake 100 for Pro Late Models. This year, he will attempt his third Snowflake in hopes of improving on his 10th-place finish in 2016 while also making his Snowball Derby debut.
Diaz also said he only had minor issues like Nason, and chalked it up to the nature of the prestigious event and everyone competing for any advantage available.
“We went through with some minor issues,” said Diaz. “You’ve got to push the limits, you’re going to have the issues, everyone’s going to have the small things to fix. It’s a pretty solid day, hopefully the week carries on this way.”
All told, Diaz was still excited about the day, especially after rolling through the entry gates as Dave Pavlock announced him as an entrant in the Snowball Derby.
“The first year [with the Pro Late Model] I wasn’t even in the rig for it,” Diaz said. “I was in the pits. It’s just a completely different year for me. I flew down by myself this year. It hasn’t been the same as in the past, and I’m liking it. It’s a change, a good change.”
Casey Roderick has a few trips to the Snowball Derby under his belt. He had hoped to make it through technical inspection on one pass, but instead found himself making a second trip through the line.
“Not too good,” Roderick said while waiting in line. “This is my second time through. A good tech day would be loading up the first time through. It’s just minor stuff we need to fix and get checked off the list.”
Still, Roderick was excited to be back at the Snowball Derby.
“I love the Derby atmosphere,” Roderick said. “It’s always better than every race we go to all year long. It’s a long week, a very expensive week, but it’s one of our favorite times of the year.”
Race fans unable to attend the 51st Annual Snowball Derby in person will be able to watch a pay-per-view broadcast all week long on Speed51.com, including qualifying night. Five-day video tickets can be purchased now for $74.99 ($35 savings) to watch all of the action. Click here to purchase your video ticket today.
The 51st Annual Snowball Derby will take place on Wednesday, November 28 through Sunday, December 2 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL. For more information regarding the event, visit Snowball Central presented by Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants.
-Story by Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com