Dalton Sargeant found himself near the top of every practice sheet in the sessions leading up to qualifying. But when it mattered the most, there was not enough speed in the No. 55 machine.
Sargeant, along with Logan Boyett, Stephen Nasse and the entire David Gilliland Racing team – Cole Moore, Todd Gilliland and Raphael Lessard – are among the 27 cars needing to race their way in to the 49th Annual Snowball Derby Saturday afternoon.
“We were really good in race runs yesterday,” Sargeant said. “Today, we switched over to qualifying runs and have struggled all day long. We just didn’t have any speed at all, and I think it showed there in qualifying. We are going to have to fight our way in Saturday, but I am really not worried at all.”
Sargeant contacted the wall on at least two different occasions during his time trial run, but is confident his crew will get things fixed and changed before the last chance race.
“We are going to go back to similar to how we were on Thursday,” said Sargeant. “I was confident with that feel we had during race runs. We are going to get back to the front and show them what’s up on Sunday.”
If Sargeant needs inspiration, he only needs to look to back one year.
Christopher Bell started on the rear of his last chance race, won it and the crossed the finish line first on Derby Sunday.
Sargeant feels the biggest challenge on Saturday’s last chance race is mental.
“A lot of it is your mindset,” Sargeant said, referring to Saturday’s 50 lap dash. “You have to be confident going in to things. The biggest thing for me is knowing how good of crew I have and how hard they work for me.”
Logan Boyett was forced to wait until the very last car to find out his Snowball Derby fortune. Zane Smith timed in 25th quick, and kicked Boyett to the last chance event.
Boyett, from who calls Pensacola home, was discouraged with the outcome, but is determined to get the issues taken care of.
“I just really don’t know what happened,” Boyett said. “I’d rather not have to run the last chance race, but where we are right now, we damn near have to do it. We have already decided the first things we want to change, and I may do those myself tonight. We have a game plan…I just hope it works.”
Two drivers entered failed to take time in qualifying.
Boris Jurkovic backed his machine into the turn three wall on his warm-up lap and will rent a Kyle Busch Motorsports backup car for Saturday’s last chance race. Preston Peltier elected to take his car – damaged in an earlier practice – to a local race shop for an all-night thrash to race his way in Saturday.
“It’s pretty tore up,” Peltier said. “We are going to see about borrowing a shop from someone, and see if we can get it fixed back up. We are going to start dead last tomorrow and see what we can do. If we can get parts, we can fix it.”
Saturday’s 50-lap last chance can be seen live on Speed51’s pay-per-view broadcast. The top-five finishers in the event will round out the field for the 49th Annual Snowball Derby.
-By Ryan McCollough, Speed51.com Deep South Correspondent – @RyanLMcCollough
-Photo credit: Speed51.com