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Garcia Carries Guaranteed Starting Spot into Snowball Derby

After winning the Southern Super Series and Blizzard Series titles, Jake Garcia knows he'll be in the 54th Annual Snowball Derby.

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When Jake Garcia and his team arrive at Five Flags Speedway for the Snowball Derby in less than two weeks, they will do so knowing he is one of two drivers guaranteed a starting position in Sunday afternoon’s big race. The Georgia driver outran Stephen Nasse in the finale to take the Blizzard and Southern Super Series championships last month, earning those series' Snowball Derby provisionals if he needs one.

Qualifying hasn’t been an issue for Garcia in his previous two Snowball Derby appearances, having made it into the show on time both years. With that, having the provisional handy has Garcia entering Snowball Derby week with a burden lifted off his shoulders.

“Being locked into the race really helps out a lot. We’re not stressed out as much as we would normally be,” Garcia said. “Everybody’s stressed out down there hoping to make the race and we won’t have to worry about that. The provisionals really help.”

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Being locked into the race really helps out a lot. We’re not stressed out as much as we would normally be. Everybody’s stressed out down there hoping to make the race and we won’t have to worry about that.

Jake Garcia

While his win total for this year matches his total from 2020, the new year has also brought two championships and his first career Super Late Model win at Crisp Motorsports Park. Garcia became the youngest Southern Super Series champion in the series’ history, while becoming the second-youngest Blizzard Series champion at just 16 years old.

He’s already come close to winning a crown jewel Super Late Model race this year. He was the leader going into the final restart at the Winchester 400, but contact with the wall just after the restart relegated him to a fourth-place finish.

“Everything’s been going really good this year. We’ve had six wins and the two championships there. I’ve been in a lot of big races and have had some really good finishes, I’ve definitely improved throughout the year as well. I’m looking forward to the Derby, I feel like we’ve been running really good lately and I think we have a shot at it.”

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Garcia made history in his first Snowball Derby start two years ago after he finished second as a 14 year old, becoming the youngest driver to podium in Super Late Model racing’s biggest race. While he nearly went to victory lane in his first Derby attempt, last year’s race proved to be more of a struggle, finishing 24th in the event.

While having a mixed bag of results in his first two starts, he feels more prepared for anything his third appearance throws at him.

“Our first year at the Derby we ran really good and finished second. Last year we had a little bit of bad luck. Having already been there and having done it before always helps because you know what to expect and you’re not caught off guard as much as you normally would be.”

On two separate occasions has a 16 year old won the Snowball Derby, first by fellow Georgia native and 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott in 2011, then Richard Petty Motorsports driver Erik Jones the very next year. A Snowball Derby win would put Garcia in elite company.

“Everybody wants to win the Derby, so getting that would be huge and would give us some momentum going into 2022. I feel like that’s everybody’s goal, to win that race. It would definitely be pretty big.”