Between a wild finish and a post-race disqualification, the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby will be a race to remember for years to come. Here’s a look at some of the other storylines from this year’s edition of the biggest short track race in the country.
Two Stars Collide Late
Bubba Pollard and Derek Thorn were racing inside the top 10 late in the race until Pollard went around in turn four off the bumper of Thorn with 17 laps to go. Pollard’s race would end just two laps later with a 26th-place finish after pulling his car into the pits, while Thorn would take a 16th-place finish back to California.
Pollard was quick to not place any blame on the incident, noting what he believed should’ve happened to avoid it altogether.
“I was trying to get around Nasse there and he was cutting me off, but it was twenty-five laps to go, he was doing what he was supposed to, I should’ve just spun him,” Pollard told Speed51.com. “I got caught up trying to stay off of him and the No. 43 (Thorn) got me. It’s not his fault. Hell, it’s just part of it.”
After winning Saturday night’s Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100, Thorn started on the pole for the Snowball Derby and remained in contention throughout the race until he was sent to the tail for the incident with Pollard.
“Bubba got real loose off of two, I got to his bumper down the backstretch and drove it down into three just to get underneath him, open his entrance up a little bit,” Thorn said of the incident. “I got my nose in there and he probably thought I was going to back out but I didn’t. There’s twenty to go at the Derby, I’m not going to lift. I got penalized for the deal, which I get. There’s still contact even though I think it was his fault, not mine.”
However, the two-time ARCA Menards Series West champion took issue with another incident late in the race.
“At the end there I was doing everything I could to avoid a wreck. I was getting punted from behind, the guys in front of me. Majeski’s restarts were ridiculous, he kept jacking up every restart. They said they were warning him and they never did anything about it. He did his typical restart where he got going and slowed down, the No.22 (Roderick) checked up, I checked up, I’m getting jacked up from the back, we all spin, I say we had five or six guys involved with damage.”
Canadian Survives End of Race to Make History
Cole Butcher rounded out the podium with a third-place finish in the Snowball Derby, becoming the highest-finishing Canadian in the race’s history. However, it did not come easy. The former Maritime Pro Stock Tour champion was sent to the tail with two to go for making contact with Travis Brade, sending him for a spin in turn two. Butcher would manage to miss the major pileup on the frontstretch on the ensuing restart and cross the finish line in fourth before being promoted to the third spot after post-race tech.
He gave his view of the contact with Braden.
“I got under the No. 26 (Braden) and I don’t know if he cut down or just miscorrect, but we bumped wheels. I was going straight regardless so there was nothing I could’ve done to have prevent that, I was on the yellow line where I’d been running all night,” Butcher said. “I see he apologized, so it’s all good, s— happens. We’ll move on, we had a first or second-place car all night so we’ll move on and try again next year.”
Sunshine State Driver Scores Top Five
Central Florida standout Jesse Dutilly made the trip north for the second year in a row and left Pensacola with a fourth-place finish. He was involved in the incident with Pollard and Thorn with 17 laps to go, and it looked to be the end of his chances to win. With the late-race attrition, it allowed him to make up for lost positions and have a chance to win the Tom Dawson Trophy late.
“There was a massive crash there at the end and we were able to dodge like two or three accidents down the frontstretch. I restarted third but I knew those guys just got put right behind us and we were kind of a sitting duck,” Dutilly said. “Being able to leave with a top five, we’re ecstatic and we’ll take it.
“We missed a little bit in the race and we’ll have to go home and go to work to find a little bit more speed. This is a race you’ve got to run to figure it out,” he added. “We don’t do this kind of stuff with the strategies and stuff like that, we missed a couple calls that we probably should’ve made differently late. We’ll learn from that and be better next time. I felt like we were a top ten car all race, we just couldn’t catch any breaks where we were at. But to come home top five, I couldn’t be happier.”
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-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com