The most prestigious asphalt Super Late Model race in America is making a big change to save racers money in 2019. Five Flags Speedway officials announced Saturday that the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby will be contested using the controlled cautions format used by many other Super Late Model races in North America.
The change will make it so that teams competing in the race will no longer feel the need to bring in hired pit crews for the 300-lap race. Tim Bryant, the promoter of the Snowball Derby and Five Flags Speedway, made the decision with the racers and teams in mind.
“We know that the Snowball Derby is a costly event for the teams to participate in. We are in constant search of ways to make it less expensive for competitors,” Bryant told Speed51.com. “On-track competition has gotten increasingly more competitive over the years. The importance of length of time on pit road has gone to the extreme. The cost of a high-paid pit crew was never intended for this level of racing. Given the competitiveness of this event and the importance of the event, guys will take any measure necessary to get an edge on the others. For that reason, we’ve decided to go to the controlled caution format for the 52nd Snowball Derby. It’s simply in an effort to save teams the money of high-team pit crews.”
The controlled caution format makes it so that no car may lose a lap under caution while pitting. In addition, no driver will lose positions in regards to other cars that pitted during the controlled caution period.
Under this format, pit strategy will continue to play an important role in the race, as teams will still need to decide when to visit pit road during the 300-lap race.
Initially, the format was introduced in the Midwest region by ARCA Midwest Tour promoter Gregg McKarns. Since its inception, the controlled caution format has been used at other major Super Late Model events such as the All American 400, Florida Governor’s Cup 200, Winchester 400 and Winter Showdown. The format even made its way into the Late Model Stock Car world in 2018 during the Thanksgiving Classic at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC).
So far, the reaction from teams and drivers using the format has been positive, as it cuts down on costs and puts even more focus on the driver behind the wheel.
“We’ve been lobbied by some teams for the last couple of years to go this route. What we don’t want to do at the end of the day is take anything away from our race fans,” Bryant stated. “They are a vitally important aspect to what makes the Snowball Derby successful. We do feel like the on-track competition will be enough to negate a race off pit road.”
With the Snowball Derby traditionally being a live pit stop race, the previous format discouraged some teams from competing in the race. They either didn’t want to pay the money to hire a pit crew or they didn’t want to be at a disadvantage for making the decision to not hire a crew.
By eliminating that aspect of the race, Bryant believes it will make the decision to enter the race an easier one for Super Late Model teams all over North America.
“We know two things. We have some teams that come and very reluctantly hire pit crews because they know, once the green flag drops, that’s what they have to do to compete for a win. We also know that there are some teams that just choose not to come because they don’t want to incur that cost or can’t incur that cost. We’re hoping that we can open it up and allow those guys equal opportunities to compete. We want to make sure that the competition on the track ultimately decides the winner.”
The 52nd Annual Snowball Derby will be held December 4 – December 8, 2019 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com