It was all the way back in 2002 when Chris Davidson went into Snowball Derby lore, but not in a good way. He led the race coming to the final lap before losing the top spot in turn one to Ricky Turner and letting the biggest Super Late Model race in the country slip away.
Eighteen years later, the Texas driver found a little bit of redemption by winning the Allen Turner Pro Late Model Series opener at Five Flags Speedway for his first-ever victory at the track.
Davidson took the lead from fast qualifier Kyle Plott early in the event and never looked back, scoring the win to open Late Model season at the Pensacola oval. While it may not have been for the Tom Dawson Trophy, it felt sweet to finally pick up a win at Five Flags.
“That one sucks no matter what, am I right? That was nice to win, it was only 100 laps and not the Snowball Derby, it’s not quite the same thing but it’s a little bit of redemption,” Davidson said in victory lane.
The triumph was Davidson’s first-ever victory at Five Flags Speedway, and his first major win since he won a Viper Pro Late Model Series event at South Alabama Speedway in 2012. His first recorded start at Five Flags came in October 1999 at what is now the Snowflake 100.
While in victory lane, he almost didn’t want to think how long he had been coming to the Florida Panhandle to compete at the half-mile
“It’s been probably two decades of coming here without winning. It was nice to come here with a car as good as it was and get it done.”
While he dominated the race, a late-race yellow bunched the field back up and nearly prevented Davidson from earning his first checkered flag at the facility. Four laps were arely enough for him to hold off Ryan Paul with a right front tire quickly going down.
"The car was just good from the start, Mike Garvey’s the reason the car was so good. During the last caution, the right front had got a hole in it so it was basically flat,” he stated. “I just had to hold off Ryan Paul for two laps. He didn’t drive through me even though he could’ve and probably should’ve, I’ve got to thank him for that.”
Jake Garcia followed Davidson and Paul in third. In a strange twist, the crew chief for Garcia Friday night was Ricky Turner, the winner of that infamous Snowball Derby in 2002 that saw Davidson finish third after losing the lead on the lead lap. Daniel Dye and Christopher Tullis rounded out the top five.
Click here to watch a replay of Friday night’s Allen Turner Pro Late Model Series opener at Five Flags Speedway.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo
Allen Turner Pro Late Model Opener Results:
- Chris Davidson
- Ryan Paul
- Jake Garcia
- Daniel Dye
- Christopher Tullis
- Colin Allman
- Grant Thompson
- Jordan McCallum
- Hudson Halder
- Jim Weber
- Elliott Massey
- Brandon Brilliant
- Troy Grisaffi
- Steven Chunn
- Bobby Reuse
- Kyle Plott
- William Hale
- Greg Fore
- Jarrett Parker