Kole Raz Takes Improbable Path to First Snowball Derby Start

Kole Raz overcame a motor failure at the end of Friday’s final practice to make the field on speed for the 2023 Snowball Derby at 5 Flags Speedway.

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On Thursday afternoon, it didn’t look likely that Kole Raz would be making his first career start in the Snowball Derby this weekend at 5 Flags Speedway.

In final practice, the engine expired in Raz’s No. 63 machine. And with the failure happening so late in the session, Raz never got any laps on his new motor to make sure things were good to go.

However, the 20-year-old laid down the 29th-best lap time of 16.803 sec. in Friday’s high-stakes qualifying session, which was just good enough to lock him into the show.

RELATED: 56th Annual Snowball Derby Qualifying Results

After climbing from the car, you could feel the relief in Raz’s voice.

“Yeah, we made it. That was our first goal coming into here,” Raz explained to Racing America. “Obviously, yesterday put us behind the eight ball, but our crew didn’t give up.”

While the dramatics surrounding his first Snowball Derby start weren’t what he had drawn up, Raz is just proud of his team’s effort despite the tough circumstances that arose on Thursday.

The Rupinski Racing group traveled a long distance to attempt the event, and they were determined to do whatever it took to make the show for the most prestigious super late model event in the country.

“We worked pretty hard for it, and we came a long way from Oregon to get out here. We weren’t going to let that stop us,” Raz said of the engine issues in practice. “I’m just thankful to be in a position to make the show and go compete for our first Derby. Man, I’m excited for Sunday.”

While the emotions of simply making the event were still raw for Raz, the young and talented racer says he wants to put in a solid effort in Sunday’s Main Event, and if he finds himself in a position, he’d love to compete for a win. But Raz knows it’ll be no easy task.

“I want to be able to have a good finish there, but we have a lot of work to do,” Raz stated. “Obviously, every competitor wants to go win the race. I think that’s our first goal. We’ll see what we can do.”

Raz will roll from the 29th starting position on the grid in the 56th Annual Snowball Derby on Sunday, December 3rd. Racing America will have live PPV coverage of the event on Sunday. The race broadcast is set to kick off at 2:00 PM ET.

Photo Credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America

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