Every year teams travel from throughout North America to be a part of Snowball Derby festivities, but perhaps one of the best represented areas is the Lone Star State. The competitive contingent of racers from Texas have achieved a great amount of success and are always a force to be reckoned with, not only in the headlining Super Late Models, but across each of the supporting divisions.
At 20 years old, Bayley Currey can now be considered a veteran of Snowflake 100 competition, making the field in the last three events. After traveling some in previous years, the Driftwood, Texas driver has stuck around in his home state and secured his second straight Pro Late Model title at Central Texas Speedway.
The Kyle, Texas facility runs events on the 3/8-mile monthly and the day prior to scheduled racing an open practice is offered that has additionally helped the team prepare for Pensacola.
“Every Friday night we come out for practice and try something new, trying to get the car a little better and do a little R&D,” Currey told Speed51.com powered by JEGS during this past Saturday’s finale at CTS. “We were actually working on something last night that probably wouldn’t work here but might work pretty well over there. It helps a ton. It’s not exactly the same, but finding anything that makes the car better here will make it better there.”
Currey has turned in some respectable performances in past Snowflake 100 appearances, qualifying in the top 20 in each of the three years and has finished in the top 20 against increased competition the most recent two events. He feels that the momentum from a championship season and past experience will lead to even better results this time around.
“Everybody else out here has been making their car better all year and we’ve been able to stay on top, so as long as we keep making our car better I know we’ll be good down there,” Currey said. “I want to win.”
Joining the Pro Late Model Saturday action will be the Pro Trucks. Ever since their inception in 2013 there has been a multitude of racers making the trip from Texas in an attempt to be named the Snowball Derby champion for their respective division.
Adam Haugh won the division’s track championship at Central Texas Speedway and looks to make his first Snowball Derby start behind the wheel during the 49th Annual weekend on December 1-4. The Leander, Texas driver got some track time on the half-mile twice early in the season, but is aware that the atmosphere and track conditions will differ in December.
“Both times we went I ran pretty good for my first time running there, but the track’s going to change a lot,” Haugh commented. “I’ve attended a lot of Snowball weekends and the Super Lates and Pro Lates, they change the track from day to day. It’s going to be hard to figure out what’s going on because I think we only get one practice. We’re just going to go back with relatively the same setup that we had before and base it off that. It’s going to be a roll of the dice pretty much.”
With a worst finish of third at his home track, Haugh brings a good amount of confidence in his Pro Truck. If they hit the setup and have a little luck on their side a commendable finish coming together could be a certainty, something that he has been working toward for quite a few years.
“It seems like every time we bring this truck out it does no wrong to us,” Haugh said. “Since 10 or 12 years ago I’ve always followed that race, and then about four years ago we started going and checking it out. We’re surrounded by a good group of guys to be successful there.”
One of the racing families that Haugh has consulted with on setups and more will have a widespread presence at Five Flags Speedway as well. While he now calls North Carolina home, Colt James traveled overnight to Kyle to win the final Pro Truck race in the region prior to the Derby. In fact, his father Terry built and hung all of the top five finishing truck bodies in that particular feature.
Colt James has participated in two Snowball Derby Pro Truck events with a third and a second-place finish. With only one more spot to do better, the Newton, North Carolina resident originally from Buda, Texas, is optimistic but remains humble.
“I’m not one of those people that say we’re going to go there and our only goal is to win,” James indicated. “We go there to compete and just perform like we know we can, and we know we can put ourselves in position. The Truck race, just like the Super Late Model race, you’ve got to have a lot of luck and a lot of stuff has to go your way.”
While a victory for Colt among many of his peers would be exceptional, it would mean even more to accomplish in one of his father’s trucks or have one of the TRC Racecars in winners circle.
“It would be really cool to win just for him,” James said. “He does this for fun. He doesn’t do this for a living. He’s no Hamke or Port City. We do it because we love short track racing and that’s how we race. We try to come out here and perform well to try and get people to want to buy one of these trucks.”
The Modifeds are another division that receives a major turnout annually for their 50-lap affair on Friday night. Completing the trifecta of Central Texas Speedway champions heading east will be Brian Moczygemba.
While confident in his car’s speed, the driver from Seguin, Texas, near San Antonio, has not had the most optimal results in his two previous appearances, contributing to the plan to take things one step at a time.
“I know I’ll have a good setup underneath me and we’ll get some seat time,” Moczygemba stated. “I’ve only been on that track twice so I don’t have the same amount of laps as everybody, and the competition in the Modified class in general, at Pensacola especially, is super tough. Making the race would obviously be the first accomplishment.”
The two-time defending track champion at CTS broke a transmission before qualifying in his first attempt and a year ago advanced through the last chance race before getting tangled up in a wreck with five circuits to go after nearing a top 10 finishing position.
“I’d like to get a way better starting spot; somewhere in the top 15 or so and race our way through there,” Moczygemba said.
While his time spent at CTS throughout the season provides self-confidence as a driver, the difference in characteristics between there and Five Flags Speedway does not necessary result in momentum.
“What you are doing (at CTS) is basically honing in your skills for the Pensacola race,” Moczygemba noted. “I like to be cautiously optimistic heading into that race. We’ve had a couple guys from Texas win the Modified portion of the Snowball Derby so to bring it back to Texas would be awesome.”
Moczygemba will certainly be seeking advice from his uncle Joe Aramendia, who has competed on numerous occasions in Pensacola. While he won a Modifieds of Mayhem event in August at the track and has finished on the podium before during Snowball Derby weekend, the December victory still eludes the veteran of various past Late Model series.
“We haven’t been able to win that one yet,” Aramendia said. “It’s the biggest Modified race for the southeast, so you want to win it and that’s why we go.”
The former NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series driver echoed Moczygemba’s thoughts on how disparate Five Flags can be from other tracks he has competed.
“Seat time is seat time, that’s a good thing, but as far as the way you race and cars are set up it’s nothing even close (to Five Flags Speedway),” Aramendia mentioned. “It really and truly is a whole different world.”
While many of the drivers traveling to Florida race outside of their home state on occasion, Aramendia summed up what it would mean to bring back a trophy during the upcoming big weekend of racing.
“I run with the Texas flag on the side of my car and in my numbers, so I’m proud to be from Texas, but I go out there to win, for me, for the team. I bring Texas with me.”
The 49th Annual Snowball Derby weekend kicks off on Wednesday, November 30 with the Cat Country/WEAR TV3 Green Flag Pit Party and Qualifying Order Draw Down.
Thursday, December 1 will see the Super Late Models take to the track for the first official Snowball Derby practice. The night will be highlighted by a 30-lap race for the Butler U-Pull-It Bombers and a 50-lap event for the Dock on the Beach Sportsmen division.
The top Snowball Derby starting spots will be set on Friday, December 2 during NASH FM 102.7 Pole Night. The Faith Chapel Super Stocks and the Modifieds will each run 50-lap features.
The Pro Late Models take center stage on Saturday, December 3 for the Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100. The 50-lap Last Chance Qualifier for the Snowball Derby and a 50-lap feature for the Beef O’Brady’s Pro Truck division will also run on Saturday night.
Then on Sunday, December 4 the green flag will fly over the 49th Annual Snowball Derby. The 300-lap race will begin at 2 p.m. CT.
For more information on the 49th Annual Snowball Derby weekend at Five Flags Speedway, visit www.snowballderby.com. All media credential requests and inquiries for the Snowball Derby can be sent to Pat Bryant at [email protected]
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-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Central NY & PA Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com