Less than 24 hours remain until Super Late Models hit the track for the first time during the 50th Annual Snowball Derby week. With that, it’s time for the Speed51.com to pick the driver who they think will be holding the Tom Dawson trophy on Sunday evening.
After all of the votes were tallied, Noah Gragson has officially been listed as the favorite after receiving five picks from our staff. Close behind with four votes were Ty Majeski, Bubba Pollard and Harrison Burton.
We encourage race fans to share their picks with us on our Five Star Race Car Bodies Facebook Feed and PFC Brakes Twitter Feed.
All five days of the 50th Annual Snowball Derby can be watched via a live broadcast on Speed51.com. Live video tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.
Without further ado, here are our picks to win the Snowball Derby:
Aaron Creed (Speed51.com Central NY & PA Editor) – Twitter: @aaron_creed
Ty Majeski – The Wisconsin rising star has led laps in his last couple Derby appearances and has captured two Rattler 250s and Florida Governor’s Cups trophies in a row. His time has come to win this particular crown jewel in the 50th running, with a few of his fellow Roush Fenway crew members pitching in on an already stellar team led by crew chief Toby Nuttleman calling the shots.
Adam Mackey (Speed 51 TV Color Commentator)
Noah Gragson –Gragson will claim the win in this year’s Snowball Derby. Gragson has proved he can win the big race with his 2017 win in the Winchester 400. He’s also coming off of a top ten last year in the Snowball Derby but will step it up even more this Sunday, beating boss and car owner, Kyle Busch, across the line.
Allick Jorgensen (Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent) – Twitter: @AJorgensen24
Ty Majeski – To put it short, the man can’t be stopped in a Super Late Model. He was dominant in the Florida Governor’s Cup 200 at New Smyrna Speedway against Bubba Pollard, Augie Grill, and a host of Fury Race Cars teams. I’m told both tracks have very similar characteristics, which leads me to believe the only thing that can stop Majeski is what he cannot control.
Angie Dillner (Speed51.com Owner) – Twitter: @angiedillner
Dan Fredrickson – I like underdogs and while Dan winning would not be a complete surprise, he’s kind of low on everyone’s radar. I think adding Freddie Query as crew chief quietly puts him toward the top of the list of contenders.
Bob Dillner (Speed51.com Executive Editor / Owner) – Twitter: @bobdillner
Rich Bickle – I never like to go with the favorite but this guy certainly knows a thing or two about winning the Snowball Derby. But, there’s a big if with my pick. If Rich Bickle qualifies, I believe he has the savviness to be right in the thick of things and steal his sixth Tom Dawson trophy. But first, he’s gotta qualify.
Brandon Paul (Speed51.com Editor) – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
Bubba Pollard – A great driver and great team can only be held back for so long at a particular race. The Snowball Derby is one race that Pollard has struggled to win, but I believe this is the year he gets the monkey off his back. His success at Five Flags Speedway this year can’t be ignored. Three wins in four races with the Southern Super Series is an impressive feat, and I believe he’ll make it four of five when the checkered flag waves on Sunday.
Bruce Nuttleman (Speed51.com Photographer) – Twitter: @BruceNuttleman
Ty Majeski – Majeski showed at the Governor’s Cup that the No. 91 still has plenty of speed. The Toby Nuttleman-led team has also worked out some additional logistics. He will be in a great position to get his first Snowball Derby victory.
Casey LaJoie (Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent) – Twitter: @Casey_LaJoie
Bubba Pollard – As one of the most decorated Super Late Model drivers in the country, Pollard is the cliche pick for any race he shows up to. But, the Snowball Derby always seems to be his kryptonite. I believe this year for the 50th Annual, he will finally get the monkey off his back.
Connor Sullivan (Speed51.com Regional Editor) – Twitter: @Connor51CT
Noah Gragson – The young man from Vegas has had quite an autumn. He broke through for his first major Super Late Model win at the Winchester 400 before following it up with his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win, and at Martinsville no less. He’s taken his share of lumps in his first two Derby starts in 2015 & 2016, but it has given him the insight on what it takes to win this race. If Kyle Busch Motorsports can give him a great car as you’d expect, he has a chance to head home with the Tom Dawson trophy.
Daryl Canfield (Speed51.com Photographer) – Twitter: @dcanfield17
Kyle Busch – I’m not really going out on a limb here, but the last Monster Energy Cup race I attended, the M&M’s No. 18 Camry drove into victory lane. Busch’s passion to win and driving abilities are second to none, and for that reason he gets it done for a second time at the Snowball derby.
Derrick Canfield (Speed51.com Photographer) – Twitter: @derrickcanfield
Ty Majeski – Majeski has proven over the last three years that he can be a contender in the Snowball Derby. His Five Flags Speedway track record set in 2015 also shows that he knows how to get around the Pensacola half-mile oval.
Elgin Traylor (Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent) – Twitter: @ElginTraylor
Jeff Choquette – He’s somewhat of a sleeper, but his track record shows he’s worthy of a look. Choquette won a Blizzard race this year, being the only driver to do so other than Bubba Pollard. The other year Choquette won a Blizzard race? 2012 when he went on to pass Kyle Busch to finish second in the Derby with a car that had a bent chassis. Look for Choquette to be there at the end.
Evan Canfield (Speed51.com Photographer) – Twitter: @ecanfield17
Noah Gragson – Gragson had a breakout 2017 that included wins in the Winchester 400 and a NASCAR Truck Series win at Martinsville. Driving for KBM, Gragson has the tools he needs to grab the victory over a stellar field, including his boss, Kyle Busch, and end his season on a high note.
Jana Wimmer (Speed51.com Midwest Correspondent) – Twitter: @JWimm22
Harrison Burton – Burton has undoubtedly been one of the hottest young drivers in the country this year. With a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship under his belt and a handful of Super Late Model wins, he has been in contention to win almost every race he’s entered this year. After heartbreak at the Winchester 400, Burton gets it done in the biggest race of the year.
Jeremy Anders (Speed51.com West Coast Correspondent)
Noah Gragson – Maybe a little Left Coast bias here, but Gragson has had a big year racing his first full year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, picking up his first win for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) at Martinsville. Gragson also captured a win in one of the biggest Super Late Model events of the year in the Winchester 400 for KBM. Gragson is finishing the year strong and momentum is on his side. With KBM being very good at Five Flags Speedway in the past, this might be the perfect match to get Gragson a Derby win and take the trophy back to the Left Coast.
Kendra Adams (Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent) – Twitter: @2KendraAdams
Kyle Busch – Busch is a pretty straight forward choice because of his experience. He is always a dominate driver and is extremely talented. Experience, talented crew, quality equipment, and past success at the Derby from the KBM cars are what draw me to picking him to win the 50th Annual Snowball Derby.
Koty Geyer (Speed51.com Midwest Correspondent) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
Chandler Smith – The Derby is known for creating young stars such as Erik Jones, Chase Elliott and John Hunter Nemecheck. Smith had a top five in last year’s race and has a crew chief in Ricky Turner whose got it done both on the pit box and behind the wheel, so he has what it takes to get it done.
Mark Keeler (Speed51.com Operations Manager) – Twitter: @KeelerMark21
Bubba Pollard – He’s dominated every race that he’s entered this year. He’s won three of four Southern Super Series at Five Flags this year, and overall he’s had more success than anybody in Pensacola, Florida. Pollard will be tough to beat come Sunday.
Melissa Strahley (Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent)
Bubba Pollard – To say Bubba Pollard has had a record year would be an understatement. The Senoia, Georgia native clinched his 100th Late Model win in his home state several months ago and will undoubtedly add the 50th Annual Snowball Derby to his long list of victories Sunday afternoon.
Mikayla Kugler (Speed51.com Midwest Correspondent) – Twitter: @MikaylaKugler
Harrison Burton – Although his two Snowball Derby starts didn’t prove to have successful finishes, Burton has definitely made a name for himself at an early age. This year’s Winchester 400 was a tough one to swallow for Burton and his team after having hub issues while leading with only a handful of laps remaining. The DEX Imaging team is coming back with vengeance and Burton will claim his first ever Snowball Derby victory.
Patrick Hahe (Speed51.com Regional Editor) – Twitter: @PatrickHahe_S51
Noah Gragson – The Winchester 400 is one of the most demanding races of the year, and Gragson managed to not only run fast, but also keep the car together through the 400-lap affair. While it would be easy to pick form the usual contenders (Ty Majeski, Kyle Busch, Harrison Burton, Bubba Pollard…all drivers I think will be around at the end of the race), I think Gragson will be the one to prevail in the 50th Annual Snowball Derby.
Rob Blount (Speed51.com Southeast Editor) – Twitter: @RobBlount
Johnny Sauter –I picked Johnny Sauter on Short Track Center and it would be wrong of me to not stick with him. I’m aware Sauter has never raced the Derby. I’m aware that he won’t be doing any testing. I think there are legitimate reasons for why Johnny Sauter might not be the best pick. However, there are reasons for the contrary as well. Johnny Sauter is as fierce of a competitor as they come. He finished second in the NCWTS championship race at Homestead. He has one chance left to score a win in 2017, and it’s at the Derby. He completely dominated Oktoberfest against some of the same cars (like Ty Majeski) that are expected to be favorites here. Johnny Sauter can definitely win this race.
Ryan McCollough (Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent) – Twitter: @RyanLMcCollough
Harrison Burton – Let’s let numbers pick this one for us. When you average the ages of the last seven Derby winners – Johanna Long, Chase Elliott (2), Erik Jones (2), John Hunter Nemechek and Christian Eckes – you get 17. So we then go to the entry list find someone who is 17 with good equipment and decent experience in this race. When you do the math, the winner of the 50th Annual Snowball Derby is Harrison Burton.
Tom Ryan (Speed51.com Digital Manager) – Twitter: @TJRthe9
Kyle Busch – I am going to pick Busch to turn his 2017 Super Late Model luck around and finish this season with a checkered flag in the 50th Annual Snowball Derby. He’s been fast everywhere he’s been, and this is the week that he gets back to victory lane in a Late Model.
Zach Evans (Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent) – Twitter: @ztevans
Harrison Burton – Burton has been fast when racing his Super Late Model, along with securing this season’s K&N East championship. He has been snake-bitten in previous appearances at the Snowball Derby, but with a little luck he will be in contention for the win.