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By the Numbers: Reviewing the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby

While the anticipation will already start to build for next year’s running of the prestigious Super Late Model event, let’s look back at this year’s race “By the Numbers.”

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After a year of anticipation, the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway is in the books. While the anticipation will already start to build for next year’s running of the prestigious Super Late Model event, let’s look back at this year’s race “By the Numbers.”

0: We have to remind people because it’s almost unbelievable, but Saturday’s last chance qualifier had zero yellow flags. The race went the full distance of 50 laps without a caution.

1: Kyle Plott finishes on the lead lap and inside the top 10 for the first time in his career. Plott had never been higher then 18th.

2: While it may be the first win for Ty Majeski in the Snowball Derby, it’s not the first win for his spotter. Mike Herman, Jr. was the spotter back in 2010 with Johanna Long when she won the Snowball Derby.

2: Many people would be pleased with a second-place finish at the Snowball Derby, but when you lead 252 laps you expect to be in victory lane. Derek Thorn logged his second career podium finish in the Snowball Derby after finishing second to Ty Majeski.

3: Coming from the third starting spot, Majeski became the fifth driver to win the race from the position. Kyle Busch (2009), John Hunter Nemechek (2014), Wayne Anderson (2001) and Steve Wallace (2004) all came from third.

3: Cole Butcher is making Canada proud at the Snowball Derby after he posted his third-straight top 10 finish. In all, he’s completed every lap but one in the last four years.

4: The win for Ty Majeski in the Snowball Derby puts him in elite company as it was his fourth podium finish in the race. He also becomes the eighth driver to finish second in the Snowball Derby before winning the race. That list includes Jody Ridley, Rick Crawford, Eddie Mercer, Rich Bickle, Butch Miller, Jeff Purvis, and Darrell Waltrip.

4: Despite a mid-race slide, Kyle Busch logged his fourth top-10 finish in the Snowball Derby. When he cracked the top five early in the day, he looked like he was on his way to a third win in the event. He can try again in 2021.

8: Grant Enfinger just finds ways to run well at the Snowball Derby. After an engine change, he charged to the front and posted his eighth top-10 finish of his career. That ties him with David Rogers, Bobby Allison, Butch Miller and Bobby Gill.

14: The field was deep and rookies were hard to come by, but Daniel Dye had a strong showing for the first timers and finished 14th in the final rundown. He was one lap off the pace.

15: Augie Grill made the race for the 15th time in his career and is closing in on a place in the top 10 with the most starts in the event.

43: The race only had 43 laps of caution, which is the lowest number of laps since 1980. The style of racing has changed with the controlled cautions, but at the same time they were used in 2019 and 83 laps of caution were run. We are giving credit to where credit is due. The track staff, the spotters and the drivers for being timely under the cautions.

47: We have to give Chandler Smith some credit after he went from 21st to fourth in the LCQ and 34th to fourth to officially improve 47 spots over the course of 352 laps of racing. He passed a lot of cars to get his fifth-straight top 10 run at the Derby.

252: Derek Thorn did leave his mark on this race by leading the most laps, setting the record for most laps led in a single Snowball Derby event and then becoming the 20th driver to lead over 100 laps in a race and fail to go to victory lane. He now has led the most laps of any active non-winner. It had been Ty Majeski before this Sunday’s event.

1991: The win by Ty Majeski’s Lefthander Chassis is the first at the Snowball Derby since 1991, when Rich Bickle won the race for a second time. He also won the race in 1990 with a Lefthander. Bickle used his own car for his three other Snowball Derby wins.

Back-to-Back: Thorn also becomes the fourth different driver to win back-to-back poles after Pete Hamilton did it in the 1970s, Mike Alexander in the 1980s and Eddie Mercer in the 1990s.

How Fast: Sunday’s race was run in record time at 2 hours and 9 minutes, making it the fastest 300-lap Snowball Derby race by the watch. Some earlier Snowball events were run at shorter distances. The 1980 race was, of course, run in one hour and 23 minutes. Looking at Average speed the 1980 race was still faster than this year by a mark of 71.670 to 69.855. Still, these two races are on record as the fastest Snowball races ever run.

Defending Winner: Travis Braden didn’t have the best day of his life, but he did manage to go from 29th to 13th and finish as the last car on the lead lap.

Stacked Field: When the green flag flew on Sunday the field rolled off into turn one as one of the most experienced fields in the history of the race. Over 160 plus starts in the race and seven former wins were represented. It was also the first Snowball Derby to feature three multi-time Snowball Derby winners and two former NASCAR cup champions.

Other/Snowflake 100:

0: Jake Johnson is the first driver to win the Snowflake 100 without leading any laps.

3: All three of the top finishes, Jake Johnson, Jake Finch and Jarrett Butcher were all in their first Allen Turner Snowflake 100 events.

4: Chris Davidson posted his fourth top 10 in his eighth start in the Snowflake 100.

31: Jake Johnson started 31st and finished first. He is the third driver to win the last chance race and then the Snowflake 100. First it was Ryan Crane in 2007, then Chase Elliott in 2010.

229: A total of 229 cars raced at the Snowball Derby this past weekend.

New Faces: All of the support races saw first time winners this weekend at Five Flags Speedway.

-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51 “Stat Boy”
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo