Five Flags Speedway hasn’t always been Donnie Wilson’s best friend, but he still like the track anyways.
Wilson, the 2016 Southern Super Series champion, enters the 49th Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway (FL) with as good of a shot as anybody to win the Tom Dawson Trophy. The Oklahoma City, Oklahoma native has competed regularly around the Gulf Coast region in recent years and collected a pair of SSS wins this past season.
His favoritism to Five Flags and a strong second half of the season has him coming in as one to keep an eye on.
“I feel good about going to Pensacola, we’ve always been pretty competitive there and we’ve had a really good year,” Wilson told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We found a little something in the second half that helped and I think we’ll be fine.”
Though Five Flags is a favorite track for Wilson, he has yet to find Victory Lane in both the Derby and in Pensacola in general. His career-best finish at the track and in the Snowball Derby (2010) is second.
While bad luck has factored in, Wilson feels they have missed a little “something” at Five Flags.
“I was leading one race and blew the motor, I’ve had some bad luck,” he explained. “I think we’re just missing something just a little bit and we just keep working on it trying to find that little extra. I think we’re close, obviously I got a provisional for the race, but I don’t want to use it. I want to qualify in the top ten and I think we’ll be alright if we do that.”
Despite being assured a place in the 300-lap marathon as the Southern Super Series champion, Friday’s qualifying is bound to be just as stressful with track position meaning everything come race day.
“You got so many good guys there and that’s a definite stressful situation just being able to qualify in the Derby because you’ve got so much great competition. It will be the toughest of the year.”
Though the effort to run well seems to get tougher with each passing season, it is a challenge that Wilson enjoys rising to meet every year.
“I think it always gets harder to be honest,” he stated. “It’s the biggest race we have every year. It’s a tough racetrack, but it’s a racetrack we all like. I always look forward to going to Pensacola every time, it’s my favorite track.”
Though it is not a guarantee of a winning effort, Wilson has already got in a solid amount of testing over the course of the last week and will next to take to the track for practice day a week from Thursday.
“I just got done testing. We tested Friday and first half of the day Saturday. It went real good, was really happy with how everything went. I think we’ll have a good car.”
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]
Race fans unable to make their way to Pensacola, Florida during Snowball Derby week will be able to watch all of the racing action live on Speed51.com. Four-day video tickets are now available at a savings of $20. Visit Speed51.com today for more information.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com