(Editor’s Note: For a full recap and many more photos from Wednesday, please visit 51’s Trackside Now presented by JRi Shocks)


Lengthy Technical Inspection, but No Major Issues for Contenders

Close to 120 Super Late Models and Pro Late Models went through technical inspection for the 48th Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway on Wednesday afternoon.


graphic 51 tv snowball derby ppv1Some, like defending winner John Hunter Nemechek, had to go through more than once while others missed the five o’clock cutoff, but most of the favorites had no major issues.


“It actually went pretty smooth, just minor nitpick stuff,” Nemechek told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.  “There wasn’t too much that we had to change.  We brought a new car here so it’s new stuff.”


Bubba Pollard, a pre-race favorite heading into the weekend, is still searching for his first Snowball Derby victory, and was positive with the entire experience as well.


“Ricky’s done a great job at getting all the cars equal and everybody knows what he expects,” Pollard applauded.  “When everybody is prepared it makes things a lot easier.”


Indifferent Opinions Despite Varied Qualifying Draw Results

A thumbs up from Nemechek after a relatively stress-free day. (Speed51.com photo)

A thumbs up from Nemechek after a relatively stress-free day. (Speed51.com photo)

Pollard and Nemechek were at different sections of the order for Friday’s pole qualifying that will set the top 30 starting positions for Sunday’s race.


Nemechek pulled in the IP Casino Qualifying Draw Wednesday evening around where fast qualifier Hunter Robbins did one year ago (26th of 63 cars).  He knows what is still required of him to get the job done come Friday night during NASH 102.7 FM Pole Night.


“You just have to buckle down and do what you need to do,” said the defending Snowball Derby winner.  “The pole here has come from the top-five once and come from the back other times.  I don’t really think it matters when you go out.”



Pollard, who drew to qualify among the first 10 cars, echoed Nemechek’s thoughts.


“Going early is not a bad thing; it depends on whether dew or other things go along with it.  As long as you’ve got a good racecar you’ll qualify up front.”


Augie Grill Again a Late Arrival, But Ready to Go

A year ago, Augie Grill was not even present at the CAT Country/WEAR-TV Green Flag Party.  In 2015, the two-time recipient of the Tom Dawson Trophy made an appearance with his hauler around 4:30 p.m. CT near the conclusion of technical inspection.


Augie Grill pulls into the Five Flags Speedway infield later in the day. (Speed51.com photo)

Augie Grill pulls into the Five Flags Speedway infield later in the day. (Speed51.com photo)

“We’re a little ahead of schedule this year,” Grill actually admitted.  “Been really busy the last couple weeks so we don’t try to get in any kind of hurry finishing our own stuff.  I made sure my two cars were ready to go.  Yesterday it rained at the house all day long, so we didn’t load up.  We loaded this morning, took our time, and got here.”


Grill drew late in the order, but like Nemechek and Pollard is aware that it does not exactly come down to where you line up in the order.


“I was telling somebody earlier that I’ve been the first car out once and the second car out twice for the Snowball, and all three times we’ve been pretty good.  If you’ve got a good car it doesn’t matter when you go out.”


Luza Hopes Third Motor is the Charm


The Five Flags Speedway Pro Late Model champion, “Flyin” Ryan Luza, has not been able to celebrate that accomplishment a whole lot while preparing for the Snowflake 100.  Despite some recent obstacles, the Texas driver made it through tech and was loaded up by mid-afternoon.


“We’ve changed three motors in the past week so I’m anxious for tomorrow,” Luza noted.  “It didn’t come in until about nine o’clock last night.  I went to the Beef O’ Brady’s party and they were getting it into the shop so it was a late night.  We got home about 2 or 2:30, got a few hours of sleep, and came back.”


The engine comes from one of the top teams in Late Model racing and has the 16th place finisher in last year’s Snowflake excited for a top run this week.


“I’m really optimistic about it,” Luza said.  “We got the motor from Jeff Burton, so that’s a good sign for me and it might be even better than our motor.”


Preston Peltier Set On Success

The trailer may be squished between two big haulers, but Preston Peltier has assembled an effort from across the country to accomplish Derby success.


The trailer may be small compared to most in the Five Flags Speedway infield, but Peltier's goals are high going into the weekend. (Speed51.com photo)

The trailer may be small compared to most in the Five Flags Speedway infield, but Peltier’s goals are high going into the weekend. (Speed51.com photo)

“We have left nothing on the table,” Peltier said.  “I feel like if I’m ever going to win this race it’s going to be this year.  We came and tested a couple of races throughout the summer and September and really got a good package.”


Combined with Colorado team owner Ed Vecchiarelli, crew chief Duane Sharp who guided Southwest champion Jim Pettit II to many victories, a Hamke Race Car and a Progressive motor, Peltier is pumped up to get on track and shoot for the victory.


“The little trailer doesn’t mean anything.  I’ve got everything that I need in there, just the same as all these other guys and I maybe have more.  This is going to be our best effort right here.”


Peltier drew very late in the order and will go out to qualify most likely once the sun goes down on Friday.


Justin South Pairs with Different Team, Tribute Name on Pro Late Model


Justin South has qualified well and come close to winning in past Snowflake runnings, but is partially working with a different group in 2015.


“I’m driving for Larry Blount this year in the 21 car and I’m really happy with the effort that Dustin Skinner and Larry and my guys have put forward,” South said.  “I’m really excited because it’s nice to sometimes get some different stuff, try different things, and work with different brains.  I think if we ease through the week and not dial ourselves out we’ll get there at the end.”


There is also an interesting name on the roof, which serves as a tribute to a close family member.


“My grandfather passed away a couple weeks ago and he drag raced professionally in the 70s,” South continued.  “His cars were named Corrupter and Corrupter II, so we’re Corrupter III.  Just a little tribute to my grandfather.”


Thursday’s Coverage on Speed51.com

Tomorrow’s coverage of Snowball Derby Practice Day on Speed51.com powered by JEGS kicks off at 9 a.m. CT.  Two hours of pre-recorded Snowball Derby & Snowflake 100 practice will be broadcast live on Speed51 TV beginning at 6 p.m. CT.  That will lead into a live broadcast of feature races for the Bomber & Sportsman divisions.


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.


Qualifying Order – 48th Annual Snowball Derby

1 1 Tim Martin
2 129 Spencer Davis
3 5 Dalton Sargeant
4 H2 Bret Holmes
5 51 Stephen Nasse
6 94 Quinnton Bear
7 26 Bubba Pollard
8 3 Kaz Grala
9 7 John DeAngelis, Jr.
10 75 Jeremy Doss
11 11 Logan Boyett
12 4 Kyle Plott
13 57 Cole Timm
14 99 Junior Niedecken
15 5 Daniel Hemric
16 31 Kyle Grissom
17 43 Derek Thorn
18 99 Casey Smith
19 04 Dalton Armstrong
20 42 Dennis Prunty
21 10 Steve Dorer
22 12 Harrison Burton
23 23 Dalton Grindle
24 2 D.J. VanderLey
25 2W Donnie Wilson
26 8 John Hunter Nemechek
27 5 Jerry Artuso
28 83 Scotty Ellis
29 7 Casey Roderick
30 42 Chad Finley
31 18 Quin Houff
32 43 Dennis Schoenfeld
33 92 Ronald McDonald
34 98 Todd Gilliland
35 7 Paul Shafer, Jr.
36 11 David Rogers
37 29 Caleb Adrian
38 79 Kyle Bryant
39 13 Cassius Clark
40 811 Mason Mingus
41 53 Boris Jurkovic
42 47 Allen Karnes
43 22 Josh Bragg
44 77 Zane Smith
45 89 Roger Reuse
46 112 Augie Grill
47 47 Brian Campbell
48 04 Corey Roper
49 1 Garrett Jones
50 21 Johanna Long
51 67 Clay Jones
52 96 Wade Day
53 20 Cole Rouse
54 51 Michael Atwell
55 07 Corey LaJoie
56 91 Ty Majeski
57 48 Preston Peltier
58 9 William Byron
59 51 Christopher Bell
60 9 Derek Kraus
61 8 Noah Gragson
62 9 Chase Elliott
63 15 Christian Eckes


Snowflake 100 Qualifying Order

1 39 Kenzie Ruston
2 129 Spencer Davis
3 H2 Bret Holmes
4 17 Kurt Guillot
5 84 Martin Latulippe
6 08 Travis Nelson
7 12 Justin Steiner
8 9 Derek Thorn
9 03 Donny Kelley
10 41 Tony Grisaffi
11 54 Clay Green
12 21 Riley Thornton
13 51 Kaz Grala
14 10 Matt Montineri
15 95 Derrick Griffin
16 26 Chandler Smith
17 28 Bryce Dulanhan
18 10 R.S. Senter
19 47 Dakota Stroup
20 07 Brandon Setzer
21 9 Chase Elliott
22 04 Dalton Armstrong
23 51 Zachary Knowles
24 21 Brandon Johnson
25 8 John Hunter Nemechek
26 01 Derek Scott, Jr.
27 16 Vinnie Miller
28 50 Ty Roberts
29 72 Scott Hantz
30 14 Connor Okrzesik
31 36 Rodney Benefield
32 51 Perry Patino
33 1 Garrett Jones
34 88 Bobby Reuse
35 97 Cole Anderson
36 11 Brad May
37 29 Preston Bores
38 91 Chris Freeland
39 96 Steven Davis
40 96 Jake Kruger
41 4 Elliott Massey
42 43 Justin South
43 00 Brandon Curren
44 18 Paul Ryan
45 30 Rusty Sanford
46 12 Dan Leeck
47 75 Colin Crawford-Kraft
48 45 Dwayne Buggay
49 13 John Robicheaux
50 6 Josh Williams
51 8 Scotty Tomasik
52 33 Dustin Smith
53 77 Zane Smith
54 18 Hunter Robbins
55 99 Junior Niedecken
56 30 Bobby Knox, Jr.
57 55 Ronnie Osmer
58 23 Dalton Grindle
59 04 Corey Roper
60 112 Augie Grill
61 00 Anthony Cataldi
62 5w Justin Wakefield
63 50 David Jones
64 42 Chad Finley
65 26 Bubba Pollard
66 51M Mason Mitchell
67 11 Johanna Long
68 53 Kyle Ivey
69 22 Josh Bragg
70 05 Bayley Currey
71 14 Ryan Luza


-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Central NY & PA Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed

-Photo credit: Speed51.com

Snowball Notebook: No Big Issues in Tech; Grill Arrives Late