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How Snowball Derby Qualifying Works

It's the most dramatic time trials in short track racing

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There are only four drivers on the premises who are guaranteed a starting spot in the 54th Snowball Derby and that comes as a huge relief to defending winner Ty Majeski, Jake Garcia as champion of both the Southern Super Series and Blizzard Series, and Stephen Nasse by virtue of being runner-up to Garcia in both of those Super Late Model championships.

The legendary Rich Bickle is closing out his career on Sunday and track operator Tim Bryant has guaranteed the five-time Snowball Derby winner a starting spot should he otherwise not make it into the show.

Due to their accomplishments, the quartet will make the Super Bowl of Short Track Racing regardless of their respective qualifying efforts on Friday night. That means just four of the 51 drivers set to take two timed laps know their Sunday plans.

For everyone else though, this is the most dramatic time trials session in all of motorsports.

The session will lock-in the top-30 based on qualifications. Two provisional starting spots will also be awarded to the Southern Super Series and track champion, thus Garcia and Nasse. If those two drivers qualify inside the top-30, the provisionals will be awarded to the next highest finishing driver in track and touring series points.

If needed, Majeski would make the field as a 37th entry if he is unable to make the show on time. If needed, Bickle would make the field as a 37th or 38th entry, if he is unable to make the show on time and depending on the status of Majeski.

After that, starting positions 31-34 will be earned by the top four finishers from the 50-lap last chance showdown on Saturday afternoon.

"The most intensity that we’ll feel all weekend may very well be in the couple of hours that precede Friday night’s pole position qualifying," says Bryant.

It never fails that every year a surprise driver fails gets bumped. Last year, it was Bubba Pollard, who failed to make the show but had his track championship to fall back on.

Meanwhile, the likes of Chase Elliott, Noah Gragson, Connor Okrzesik, Kodie Conner and Augie Grill were all bumped to the last chance race.

You can feel the mood in the air. Drivers, typically affable and personable, go stoic and stone-faced as they wait in line and watch the first couple of cars go out.

Not even two-time and defending pole winner Derek Thorn is immune to the pressure.

"You go into like a trance," Thorn said. "I don’t talk to anyone. You just sit in the car and you make sure you’re ready to go. You can’t give up a single tenth – not against this field."

Drivers need to be careful to not get disqualified for a simple mistake, too. Last year, Chandler Smith had his qualifying times disallowed because he had a cell phone in his car to watch lap times, something that is not permitted. He started last in the last chance but raced his way into the main event.

Derek Griffith is seeking to make his fourth consecutive appearance in the race, but he has never qualified well at the Florida half-mile. He has started to better than 20th and needed to advance via the last chance race last year.

"I know what I need in a race car to race well, but I struggle with qualifying, especially here sometimes," Griffith said. "You see sometimes a guy runs a line that doesn’t make any sense and they’re three-tenths faster than you.

"A little bit nervous but as long as we make it in, that’s all that counts."

SNOWBALL DERBY QUALIFYING ORDER

  1. 122 Mike Garvey
  2. 9 Brad May
  3. 45 Rich Bickle
  4. 53 Cole Butcher
  5. 51 Stephen Nasse
  6. 4 Kyle Plott
  7. 78 Corey Heim
  8. 53 Boris Jurkovic
  9. 51 Jake Finch
  10. 4 Erik Jones
  11. 91 Ty Majeski
  12. 69 Michael Hinde
  13. 18 Hunter Robbins
  14. 2 John Bolen
  15. 88 Perry Patino
  16. 1 Michael House
  17. 21 Derek Kraus
  18. 36 Dan Fredrickson
  19. 96 Kaden Honeycutt
  20. 21 Jesse Love
  21. 21 Jeff Choquette
  22. 43 Daniel Dye
  23. 45 Kodie Conner
  24. 43 Derek Thorn
  25. 51 Michael Atwell
  26. 4 Luke Fenhaus
  27. 23 Eddie Van Meter
  28. 6cr Ryan Preece
  29. 9 Brandon Watson
  30. 14 Carson Hocevar
  31. 22 Sammy Smith
  32. 7 John DeAngelis
  33. 08 Jace Hansen
  34. 25 Jeff Storm
  35. 10 Ryan Crane
  36. 81 Jett Noland
  37. 44 Jeremy Doss
  38. 26 Bubba Pollard
  39. 7 Paul Shafer Jr.
  40. 26 Chandler Smith
  41. 32 Grant Enfinger
  42. 13 Cassius Clark
  43. 54 Matt Craig
  44. 12G Derek Griffith
  45. 35 Jake Garcia
  46. 62 Lee Tissot
  47. 24 Mason Diaz
  48. 5 Casey Johnson
  49. 48 Preston Peltier
  50. 25 Casey Roderick
  51. 79 Kyle Bryant