Oklahoma Super Late Model ace Donnie Wilson has accomplished a lot in his latest quests across the Southeast. Among the highlights on his resume are the 2016 Southern Super Series championship and most recently a win in the All-American 400 at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, TN. But for much of the decade, a majority of his focus has been on the Florida Gulf Coast and Five Flags Speedway, especially in the month of December for the Snowball Derby.
After a solid run in 2016 ended a string of frustrating performances, Wilson is going back stronger than ever, and is even taking time and effort into helping to develop one of short track racing’s rising stars. Wilson is especially encouraged after a recent private test on the fast, half-mile oval.
“We tested there last Thursday, it all went well. The car is ready to go, my car, we also got a car ready for Cole Butcher for him to run the Derby and they’re both set. We’re running Cole at Hickory this weekend. It’ll be a good warmup for him, he’s a good kid with a lot of talent. I’m happy to have him along for the ride,” Wilson told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
In addition to his All-American 400 win, Wilson also snatched a Southern Super Series victory at Montgomery, AL in July. He also scored two top-five finishes and three top 10s in the season’s four Blizzard Series events at Five Flags. But like most drivers will tell you, you can’t take too much from the first 11 months of the year to the Derby.
“We’ve had really good year, got two wins and three seconds. We got one of those seconds with a third and a sixth at the Blizzard races. You can’t take everything from the Blizzard races and apply it to the Derby because it is just a different animal in December,” Wilson stated. “But the familiarity of the race track going to race five times a year really helps me out. I’m excited with the cars we’re bringing, I think we got a real chance to get that Tom Dawson trophy.”
While Wilson did finish fourth with a shot at the leaders late in the race last year, he had to work early on starting back in 21st. With a provisional from his Blizzard Series performance, Wilson is not playing anything conservative for qualifying and really pushing for a top starting spot.
“I’d like to qualify in the top ten, that’s my goal this year. I’m tired of starting in the back,” Wilson said. “Running third in the Blizzard Series points we have a provisional to fall back on, but we never want to use that. I want to qualify good and finally knock that door down in the race.”
But Wilson knows that it will be tougher than ever with one of the strongest fields the Derby has ever seen heading into its 50th running in just over two weeks.
“It’s the strongest field I’ve seen a long, long time. Just to make the race will be an accomplishment for a lot of people with who we have coming. I can’t remember any stronger field than what we’ve got.”
While winning the 50th Snowball Derby would be special, the real prestige still lies in the race’s lineage, regardless of the year.
“It might have extra meaning but it’s our biggest race of the year anyways, so you don’t have to look any further than that. Winning it any year is a major accomplishment.”
Race fans unable to make it to Pensacola, Florida will be able to watch Wilson and the rest of the Super Late Model stars via a live television-style broadcast on Speed51.com. Live video tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA, RI & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com