Little Separation Between Snowball Derby’s Fastest

After all was said and done on the first official day of practice for the 48th Annual Snowball Derby, only five-thousandths of a second separated the top three on speed chart.  Mostly composed of qualifying mock runs, it painted an early picture of who to watch when the first 15 rows are set on Friday evening for Sunday afternoon’s 300 lap race.


graphic 51 tv snowball watch liveAt the top was a talented driver who is attempting his first Derby for a team with a winning resume, Christopher Bell for Kyle Busch Motorsports.


“Today showed that we were able to land on top of the speed charts,” Bell told powered by JEGS.  “Since tomorrow will be a little different only doing qualifying trim, hopefully we can stay up on top in qualifying.”


Bell has won a handful of signature Super Late Model shows in only one year of competing in the division, and hopes to turn some more heads come race day.


“I think it would mean a lot to me and would definitely show a lot to a lot of different people,” Bell said.  “It’s going to be a longshot for sure since I’m a rookie and this is my first Snowball Derby, but I’ve got the best team behind me that’s for sure.”


Only .001 seconds behind Bell was Spencer Davis, who has recently returned to Super Late Model competition after a foray in Modified racing and some starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.


“The Super car was real good,” Davis remarked.  “Everyone at NTS has done a real good job in redoing that car.  They spent a lot of man-hours in a short few weeks.”


Former Derby winner Chase Elliott was next in the order, but felt there was room for more improvement.


“I didn’t think it was as good as I would like it to be at least,” Elliott stated.  “We made a couple small gains I believe, but I think we are still missing something.  Everybody is always looking to be better and we are too.  We’re going to keep digging and still have another two days of practice.


“I don’t care so much about the ego sheet as long as we can get our car the way it needs to be on Sunday afternoon by lap 300.  That’s the thing that matters most.”


Track Champion Fastest in Final Pro Late Model Session


Ryan Luza from Cypress, Texas gained much attention as a top runner after his Five Flags Speedway (FL) Pro Late Model championship and backed it up with a best time on Thursday for the Allen Turner Snowflake 100.


“We have been testing here for two weeks now and been here all year so we have the car dialed in,” Luza noted.  “I want to be a little faster, but we’re still top of the board though so it’s good enough.”


Not only does he have a provisional to fall back on, but it gives the team confidence with a new motor they are working with from Jeff Burton Autosport that was installed late Tuesday night.


“It’s just great to know, as far as coming here tomorrow,” Luza continued.  “We don’t really have to change much and can focus on our race runs now.”


Track Conditions Cause Issues for Many

The brisk weather throughout Thursday will differ compared to the remainder of the week, but caused some to put in more work or derailed their chances altogether.


Augie Grill was the first major victim when the tires on his Snowflake car were not fully heated up and sent the two-time winner into the wall.  See the full story here.


Youngsters Christian Eckes and Harrison Burton were fast early, but found themselves with significant damage as well.  See the full story here.


Others recovered from potential problems.  Hunter Robbins spun his Pro Late Model prior to lunch break simply commenting “it’s just cold out there” after suffering light cosmetic damage to the right rear of his No. 18.  He ended up fastest in a later session and was fifth overall among Snowflake cars.


Donnie Wilson’s Super Late Model smoked heavily early on, but the team was not concerned about the issue and was among the top half on the charts throughout the remainder of the day.


Collin Crawford-Kraft spun on a few occasions shaking down a Pro Late Model that was new to him.  John Robicheaux blew the cover off of the oil cap off of the engine on his car, but should be ready to go.


The only driver that appeared to have packed up was Texan Donny Kelley, who had an engine expire early on.  Another driver from the Lonestar State, Zach Knowles, also found himself in the turn four wall.


Opening Night Features Go Down to the Wire

The 48th Annual Snowball Derby weekend got off to a thrilling start Thursday night at Five Flags Speedway as fans in the stands and watching on Speed51 TV saw down-to-the-wire finishes for the Butler U-Pull-It Bomber and Beef O’Brady Sportsman Divisions.


Read the full story on the Bomber and Sportsman features here.


Friday’s Coverage on

The top Snowball Derby starting spots will be set on tomorrow during WXBM 102.7 Pole Night at Five Flags.  The Five Flags Faith Chapel Super Stocks and Modifieds will also battle in their Snowball Derby features after Super Late Model qualifying. powered by JEGS will have Trackside Now coverage beginning at 9 a.m. CT followed by the Speed51 TV pay-per-view broadcast starting at 5 p.m. CT with an on-demand look at Late Model practice.


Purchase your Speed51 TV live online video ticket by clicking here.


The Speed51 Network will also have exclusive interviews and other videos posted throughout the day.


Subscribe to the Speed51 Network by clicking here.


A full Trackside Now replay including updates and pictures can be found by clicking here.


-By Aaron Creed, Central NY & PA Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed

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