Derek Thorn’s strong Snowball Derby weekend continued Friday night by setting the fastest lap on Country Pleasin’ Sausage Pole Night. With a lap of 16.258, he accomplished something only three other drivers have done, but he had to survive a close call to do it.
The Californian becomes the first driver since Eddie Mercer in 1996-1997 to sit on the pole for the Snowball Derby in consecutive years, and just the fourth driver in race history to do so following Mercer, Mike Alexander (1984-1985) and Pete Hamilton (1973-1974).
He now is eligible for a $25,000 bonus from Phoenix Construction if he wins Sunday’s Snowball Derby from the tail.
“We really haven’t talked to the boss about anything like that. You’ve got to beat 55 of the best drivers in the country to sit on the pole and to do it two years in a row, I would’ve never guessed,” Thorn told Speed51. “I always put faith in the team and the equipment but it takes a lot of luck to have the pole here and run good. We’ll sit down tonight and I’m sure we’ll talk about it and see what our conclusion is.”
Thorn nearly had a close call on the first lap of his run. The Campbell Motorsports No.43 broke loose at the exit of two and he nearly spun out on the backstretch before correcting the car. He then responded by setting the fastest lap of the weekend.
“We got on the track and got too greedy on the first lap out of two, we got the thing sideways and killed our first lap. We came around and the entire car came around the second lap. I missed my mark a little bit but my car still held up its end of the bargain and got me a good lap.”
Kaden Honeycutt made the field for the third straight year, ripping off a 16.277 to start on the outside front row for Sunday’s Snowball Derby. While he would have liked to put the Wilson Motorsports No.2 on the pole, he still left qualifying excited about his result.
“I said before the meeting I wanted to be the polesitter. I didn’t have my radio in, I didn’t want to hear my lap time. I just drove it the hardest I could and I think I did. I got a hold of it, my hands are shaking a little bit.”
Five Flags Speedway track record holder Ty Majeski qualified third, while Cole Butcher and Stephen Nasse rounded out the top-five. Jesse Dutilly was the final driver to lock himself in on time, just 0.009 ahead of two-time Snowball Derby winner Augie Grill.
Joining Grill in tomorrow’s Last Chance qualifier include reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott, former Snowball Derby winner Noah Gragson and Winchester 400 winner Carson Hocevar. Bubba Pollard and Jeremy Pate will receive provisionals for Sunday’s race.
Race fans unable to attend the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby can watch the entire weekend’s action on Speed51.TV, including Saturday night’s Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100. Click here to order your video ticket today.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo