Nearly 60 drivers will make the trek to Five Flags Speedway this week in search of the Tom Dawson Trophy and the title of 52nd Annual Snowball Derby champion. Carson Hocevar will be one of those drivers that will go after the trophy in just under a week’s time.
What would he do if he were to win the Snowball Derby on Sunday?
“I’ve never got one of these big crown jewel races, so I’d kiss any of the trophies in all honesty,” he said. “This is the biggest one of them all and I saw on Twitter and stuff, everybody’s talking about the purse and I don’t even care, I don’t really think anybody cares, everybody wants the trophy.”
When asked how he would kiss the trophy while on Speed51.com’s The Bullring talk show from Five Flags Speedway, he wasn’t sure how to answer it.
“I guess we’ll have to find out, I haven’t even thought about it until I got here and started hearing about it,” he joked. “I’m going to burn it down for sure on the frontstretch.”
It will be the Portage, Michigan teenager’s third trip to Pensacola for Snowball Derby weekend and second attempt in the big race. Last year’s Derby was one to forget for Hocevar, who raced his way into the show through the last chance before making an early exit just 55 laps into the race. Despite the misfortune, it was still a big learning experience in more ways than one.
“I’ve never really missed a show before,” he stated. “In the Flake two years ago I just made a mistake and missed the show but I should’ve made it for sure. But last year I didn’t have any mistakes, we just missed it. I just wasn’t really on top of it. The race was huge last year just to be able to nitpick and see what everyone else was doing. It was a humbling experience but we’re looking for more this year.”
Hocevar and KBR Development’s Snowball Derby week began on Sunday with testing throughout the afternoon. They consider the day a success after finding qualifying speed the team had been missing one year ago.
“I thought it was a lot better than I thought it was going to be, we were really good. Our mock run was really good, which was what I was more worried about, then our race run was still pretty good. We were a tenth faster than what we qualified here last year. We didn’t qualify well here at all, which isn’t saying much, but we were faster than what we were practicing last year, so it’s in the right direction.
“Yesterday we were eating dinner and we’re like Thursday we’ll work on a little bit of race runs and qualifying runs, then Friday all qualifying runs,” he added. “I was like, ‘this wasn’t the way we did it last year.’ We were doing race runs on Friday morning. But that’s the problem we had last year, our race runs were really good but lap fifteen was our best lap I felt like, we had no fire-off speed. I feel like this year we’re a lot better. We’re hitting on all cylinders for this package, I’m feeling pretty confident.”
Once qualified into the Snowball Derby, Hocevar feels like he has just as good of a chance to end the day in victory lane as any other driver in the field.
“I don’t feel like anybody is a favorite here, if you’re in the show you’re a favorite at this point,” he said. “Everybody has a shot to win, especially with these pit stops. It’s not the top guys anymore who are going to beat you on pit road, everybody has the same playing level. It really comes down to the race and pit strategy. If we can be the ‘B’ level I think we’ll be pretty good.”
With big plans potentially looming for the 2020 season, Hocevar has only one goal in mind: domination.
“This is the biggest weekend of the year for me. This is the race I want to win, we didn’t even qualify in the show last year and I’m not coming back to make the show, I’m here to win the whole deal,” he said. “I want to qualify on the pole and win the race, and that’s what I feel like we’re striving to do here. I think we still have a lot of way to go but we’re in the right direction for sure.”
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 Cyber Monday 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 here to 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: Koty Geyer, Speed51 State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51Photos.com