Dennis Prunty will make the long trek from Slinger, Wisconsin to Pensacola, Florida this week with hopes of putting the finishing touches on his 2019 racing schedule. The former Slinger Nationals winner will be competing in the opening round of the 2019 Blizzard Series at Five Flags Speedway and is hoping a strong run will help him pencil in a return trip to December’s Snowball Derby.
Prunty is no stranger to the half-mile Pensacola oval, having made five starts in the prestigious Snowball Derby.
Prunty’s most recent start in the biggest Super Late Model race in the country came last December, when he finished 23rd after a brake problem suffered before the green flag put his team behind for the duration of the race. Despite the misfortune, he came out of the race having hit on a new setup and some extra tires left over, which led to a decision to compete on Friday night.
“The reason we decided to go down is because we had extra tires left over from the Snowball Derby,” Prunty told Speed51.com. “When we went to start the Snowball Derby my front brakes stuck, so we started the race three laps down. And then of course it was one of them deals where the car was the best car I’ve ever had. So, I decided let’s go back down this spring and see how we run and determine if we’re going to come back down for the Derby or not.”
Despite Friday night’s Blizzard Series event being only 125 laps, Prunty feels like it will be similar to the Snowball Derby is in terms of race runs. He says the biggest difference between a Blizzard Series race and the Snowball Derby is that it is an impound race, so his team will not be allowed to change the car between qualifying and the race.
“The Snowball Derby, you only have to go a hundred laps on your tires, so to me this is the same as the Snowball Derby to me,” he said. “I still have to make the tires last a hundred laps, and that’s about what you get out of them at the Derby. I’m setting up for the same, the difference I think, if I read the rules right, it’s an impound race, so my idea of changing the car between qualifying and the race, I won’t be able to do that if I read the rules correctly. So, I’ll go with a race setup and hope I qualify good enough to get a good starting position.”
Drivers who race at Five Flags Speedway on a regular basis say the track during the Blizzard Series season is drastically different than during Snowball Derby week. Prunty hopes to use the same setup from last December’s race, but adds the weather could throw a wrench in those plans.
“I’ve never been down in Florida this time of year but if the weather’s the same from this past Derby, we had a really good race setup and I’m planning on coming with a car identical. But if the weather’s different, that’s going to throw me completely off. I’m hoping to use my setup from the last Derby and put it in my car and go.”
Prunty would like to start his year off with a good finish as he looks to put the finishing touches on his 2019 racing schedule. He does not plan on making the trip to Pensacola for the Snowball Derby for the second year in a row, but that could change after 125 laps on Friday night.
“I’d love to get a win out of it but to me, a top five would help me finish my schedule for the 2019 season and I’ll put the Snowball Derby back on the schedule,” he said. “Right now, I don’t have it on my schedule but a good finish here would determine my future this season.”
Prunty's fans who are unable to make it to Pensacola, Florida for Friday's race will be able to watch him compete via a live pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com. Live video tickets can be purchased for just $14.99 by clicking here.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com