Photo courtesy VisitPensacola.com

PREVIEW: Kyle Busch to start 15th in Sunday’s 50th Snowball Derby

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The golden anniversary of one of the most popular short track races in all levels of stock car racing takes place in Sunday’s Snowball Derby.

The 50th running of the Super Late Model classic takes the green flag at 3 p.m. ET at 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. The race will be televised on pay-per-view on Speed51.com.

Only 37 of the 67 cars that submitted entries will take part in Sunday’s 300-lap main event around the high-banked paved half-mile.

Qualifying took place Friday, with the top 30 drivers locked into Sunday’s show (see full qualifying list below). Three other drivers will receive a provisional position start, while four additional drivers will have one final try to qualify for Sunday’s field in Saturday night’s 50-lap “last chance” race.

Among notables in Sunday’s race are 2015 NASCAR Cup champ Kyle Busch, along with a number of young NASCAR drivers including Noah Gragson, Mason Mingus, Ty Majeski, Brandon McReynolds, Harrison Burton and Corey LaJoie.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series former champion Johnny Sauter was originally entered into the Snowball Derby before a hard wreck during practice Thursday forced the Wisconsin native to withdraw his entry.

Preston Peltier will start from the pole, while defending Derby winner Christian Eckes failed to qualify on a tiebreaker Friday, but will race Sunday because of a past champion’s provisional.

Kyle Busch was not happy with his 15th place qualifying effort, particularly since he and his team had a strong two-day practice at 5 Flags right after the NASCAR Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“Obviously 15th isn’t where we wanted to qualify, but Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) and all the guys made our Toyota, Phoenix Construction Camry a lot better for final practice,” said Busch, who was sixth-fastest in Saturday’s final practice session.

“We made some 20-lap runs and we feel like we have good long-run speed, but we’re probably still lacking a little bit of speed firing off compared to the guys that qualified up front.”

Busch has one Snowball Derby win to date, in 2009.

Several well-known former NASCAR drivers are past Derby winners, including the late Pete Hamilton (1974), Donnie Allison (1975) and Darrell Waltrip (1976), Ted Musgrave (1988) and Rick Crawford (1989).

NASCAR has really taken a hold of victory lane at the Derby in recent years. Starting with the younger Busch brother’s win in 2009 and Johanna Long’s triumph in 2010, NASCAR drivers have captured the Derby in virtually every year since, including two-time winners Chase Elliott (2011 and 2015) and Erik Jones (2012 and 2013), and John Hunter Nemechek (2014).

Snowball Derby winners

  • 1968 Wayne Niedecken
  • 1969 Friday Hassler
  • 1970 Wayne Niedecken, Sr.
  • 1971 Dickie Davis
  • 1972 Ed Howe
  • 1973 Dickie Davis
  • 1974 Pete Hamilton
  • 1975 Donnie Allison
  • 1976 Darrell Waltrip
  • 1977 Ronnie Sanders
  • 1978 Dave Mader III
  • 1979 Freddy Fryar
  • 1980 Gary Balough
  • 1981 Freddy Fryar
  • 1982 Gene Morgan
  • 1983 Mickey Gibbs
  • 1984 Butch Lindley
  • 1985 Jody Ridley
  • 1986 Gary Balough
  • 1987 Butch Miller
  • 1988 Ted Musgrave
  • 1989 Rick Crawford
  • 1990 Rich Bickle
  • 1991 Rich Bickle
  • 1992 Gary St. Amant
  • 1993 Bobby Gill
  • 1994 Tammy Jo Kirk (first female Snowball Derby winner)
  • 1995 Jeff Purvis
  • 1996 Rich Bickle
  • 1997 Bobby Gill
  • 1998 Rich Bickle
  • 1999 Rich Bickle
  • 2000 Gary St. Amant
  • 2001 Wayne Anderson
  • 2002 Ricky Turner
  • 2003 Charlie Bradberry
  • 2004 Steve Wallace
  • 2005 Eddie Mercer
  • 2006 Clay Rogers
  • 2007 Augie Grill
  • 2008 Augie Grill
  • 2009 Kyle Busch
  • 2010 Johanna Long
  • 2011 Chase Elliott (At 15, youngest winner in Snowball Derby history)
  • 2012 Erik Jones
  • 2013 Erik Jones
  • 2014 John Hunter Nemechek
  • 2015 Chase Elliott
  • 2016 Christian Eckes

Here’s how Friday’s qualifying played out. Just the first 30 drivers are locked in. Three others, including defending champ Christian Eckes, are locked in with provisional spots, leaving four remaining positions to be filled in Saturday night’s last chance event.

1             48          Preston Peltier 16.319
2             26          Bubba Pollard   16.344
3             112        Augie Grill           16.419
4             5M        Mason Mingus 16.437
5             75          Jeremy Doss      16.441
6             81          Chase Purdy      16.460
7             14D       Chris Davidson 16.461
8             91          Ty Majeski         16.475
9             53B        Cole Butcher     16.480
10          55D       Spencer Davis   16.514
11          9C          Jeff Choquette 16.514
12          18          Casey Roderick 16.520
13          14C        Connor Okrzesik 16.521
14          36          Dan Fredrickson  16.521
15          51          Kyle Busch          16.530
16          4             Kyle Plott            16.530
17          26S        Chandler Smith 16.544
18          99L        Raphael Lessard  16.552
19          11B        Logan Boyett    16.553
20          18G       Noah Gragson  16.571
21          20          Brandon McReynolds  16.573
22          12          Harrison Burton 16.576
23          46          Cole Rouse        16.582
24          00          Anthony Cataldi 16.609
25          53J         Boris Jurkovic    16.621
26          07          Corey LaJoie      16.624
27          19          Kason Plott        16.649
28          01          Jake Crum          16.653
29          13          Cassius Clark      16.658
30          51N       Stephen Nasse 16.660
31          2W        Donnie Wilson  16.660
32          15          Christian Eckes 16.660
33          9K          Derek Kraus       16.664
34          55          Brandon Oakley 16.705
35          32D       Tyler Dippel       16.705
36          8F          Tate Fogleman 16.734
37          88          Garrett Jones    16.743
38          33          Dustin Smith     16.744
39          7             John DeAngelis Jr  16.749
40          11R        David Rogers     16.769
41          79          Kyle Bryant        16.778
42          89          Jeremy Pate      16.782
43          22          Donald Crocker 16.786
44          79A       Joe Aramendia 16.815
45          16          Steven Davis     16.843
46          45          Rich Bickle Jr     16.847
47          5             Jerry Artuso       16.855
48          58C        John Coffman   16.882
49          43          Dennis Schoenfield  16.897
50          4R          Ben Rowe           16.947
51          64          Garrett Evans    16.967
52          32          Stuart Dutton   17.137
53          58F        Jeff Firestine     18.159

 

Catch Iowa K&N Pro Series race replay tonight at 7 pm ET on NBCSN

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If you’re looking to see some potential future NASCAR stars, check out tonight’s replay of last Friday’s #ThanksKenny 150 NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at Iowa Speedway.

The NBCSN telecast airs at 7 pm ET.

Brandon McReynolds, son of FOX NASCAR analyst Larry McReynolds, dominated the event in his Toyota, leading 127 of 150 laps, to take his second win of the season at Iowa.

Jesse Little finished second, followed by Spencer Davis, Rico Abreu and Noah Gragson.

You can also click here to stream the race online.

If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you plug those pieces of information in, you’ll have access to the stream.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Poll: Among drivers 25 and younger, Joey Logano is a Hall of Fame lock

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NASCAR Hall of Fame voters elected the stock-car shrine’s seventh class last week, selecting O. Bruton Smith, Terry Labonte, Jerry Cook, Curtis Turner and Bobby Isaac.

What might the class of five members look like 40 years from now?

That was the May topic of The Century Poll, which surveys 100 people – 50 from the NASCAR media corps and 50 from the NASCAR garage (including owners, drivers, crew chiefs, crew members, officials) – each month on a new issue.

Voters were given a ballot of 25 drivers born after 1990 and asked which five were most likely to reach the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Joey Logano, who turned 25 Sunday, was the leading vote-getter, receiving 91 of 100 votes. The Team Penske driver, who has nine Sprint Cup and 24 Xfinity victories (and a Camping World Truck win), surprisingly was absent from the ballots of seven media members.

Defending Xfinity Series champion Chase Elliott, who turns 20 in November and will move into the No. 24 Chevrolet being vacated by Jeff Gordon next season, was second in overall voting.

Erik Jones, who scored his first Xfinity Series win last month and made his Cup debut in place of injured Kyle Busch at Kansas Speedway, actually was first among media (with 45 of 50 votes) and was third overall, followed by Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney and Darrell Wallace Jr.

At least 19 drivers received a vote. Here’s the breakdown:

                                   G       M        T

Joey Logano            48       43        91

Chase Elliott            45       44        89

Erik Jones                37       45        82

Kyle Larson              39       36        75

Ryan Blaney             23       22        45

Darrell Wallace Jr.  21      24        45

Austin Dillon            9        7         16

Chris Buescher         7        4         11

Ben Rhodes               3        6         9

Ben Kennedy            3        5         8

Cole Custer               6        1         7

Ty Dillon                   2        3         5

Todd Gilliland         1        3         4

Brett Moffitt             4        0         4

Ross Kenseth           1        2         3

John H. Nemechek 0        2         2

Tyler Reddick           1        1         2

Gray Gaulding         0        1         1

Daniel Suarez          0        1         1

The 25 drivers on the ballot are listed below. Which five would you have chosen?

Trevor Bayne

Ryan Blaney

Chris Buescher

James Buescher

Cole Custer

Austin Dillon

Ty Dillon

Chase Elliott

Grey Gaulding

Todd Gilliland

Cameron Hayley

Erik Jones

Ben Kennedy

Ross Kenseth

Kyle Larson

Joey Logano

Brandon McReynolds

Brett Moffitt

John Hunter Nemechek

Brennan Poole

Tyler Reddick

Ryan Reed

Ben Rhodes

Daniel Suarez

Darrell Wallace Jr.