A long line of talented drivers have rained havoc on the short track racing world while racing a blue No. 98 car. One of those drivers will be returning to action during the 51st Annual Snowball Derby week at Five Flags Speedway (FL).
Many modern fans will remember NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Daniel Hemric winning a Southern Super Series title with Jake and Deanna Carswell. However, the success of the blue No. 98 started before Hemric strapped in behind the wheel.
In between Ridley and Hemric, the Carswell team had another hotshot driver out of Georgia who won races and became a fan favorite along the way. Justin Wakefield was a five-time PASS South winner and won the World Crown 300 in 2010.
Wakefield stepped away in 2011 and focused on his family while doing a little dirt racing. Now, he has the itch to go asphalt racing again.
Next week, Wakefield will return to the driver’s seat for the Allen Turner Snowflake 100 on Saturday, December 1.
“I am pumped up, man,” Wakefield said. “It’s been a long time coming. I think back to 2011 when I hung up my helmet. Now my friends and family are begging me to go back racing.”
Wakefield ran the Snowball Derby in 2008 and finished 15th in the Carswell No. 98, but he’s never competed in the Snowflake 100. The Carswell team only went south once with Wakefield, but Five Flags quickly became their second home as they ran the Blizzard Series and the Southern Super Series races at the track.
“I was proud of them. Hemric is a great guy and he really did well with Jake and Deanna after I stepped away. There were no hard feelings at all. It was difficult to watch, but it was my decision to step away.”
In 2014, Wakefield made an attempt to qualify for the Snowflake 100 but failed when his car broke before qualifying. Now, he has a second chance to make the race in a Jimmy Nichols owned No. 5 Pro Late Model.
“I’m looking forward to getting back down there and seeing some old friends and faces,” Wakefield said. “I think about it all the time and the ones that I should have won. It’s gonna be nice to get back in there and do a little wheel turning.
“I have three kids and they are all huge Ryan Blaney fans. I raced with Ryan a bunch and we are still good friends and he stops by the house and the kids just love him. I know they will be excited to see me run.”
Blaney will help out the Jimmy Nichols effort with an associate sponsorship; however, the NASCAR Cup Series driver will be watching the race from afar.
Wakefield is hoping to impress his friend with a strong effort in his return behind the wheel. Despite his extended absence behind the wheel, he has his goals set high for his return.
“I want to sit on the pole and win the race,” Wakefield said. “That’s why you go to the track, but we want to make the show and get to race. It will be fun to bring the family and get back to the fun that we used to have.”
Race fans unable to attend the 51st Annual Snowball Derby in person will be able to watch a pay-per-view broadcast all week long on Speed51.com, including qualifying night. Five-day video tickets can be purchased now for $74.99 ($35 savings) to watch all of the action. Click here to purchase your video ticket today.
The 51st Annual Snowball Derby will take place on Wednesday, November 28 through Sunday, December 2 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL. For more information regarding the event, visit Snowball Central presented by Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants.
-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com