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Ranking the Field for the 56th Annual Snowball Derby

Breaking down the drivers to watch this year in the Snowball Derby.


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The entry list for the 56th Annual Snowball Derby presented by Hooters and Safe Locator is a star-studded collection of racers, from NASCAR Cup Series competitors to short track racing veterans to up-and-coming rising stars.

It's difficult to pick just one driver you think will win the Snowball Derby in a given year - but if you end up talking about the race with friends this weekend, here is our ranking of drivers to watch.

The Favorites

Imagine a world where you could pick these drivers to win or have the field. These are the favorites in our eyes, but that’s why it’s 300 laps. Byron is looking to avenge his win in July that he lost in tech. Stephen Nasse enters the weekend as a focused driver after his Governors Cup win. ASA STARS National Tour inaugural champion Majeski is bringing back his Derby winning car from 2020 and Cole Butcher has been strong all year long. And, of course, you can't count out Derek Thorn after winning the event last year to culminate a three-year run of dominance in the Derby.

William Byron
Stephen Nasse
Ty Majeski
Cole Butcher
Derek Thorn

In The Hunt

Don’t sleep on these guys. Ryan Preece drives for Kevin Harvick and has some key people working with him. Gio Ruggiero won the Winchester 400 and two of the three ASA "regional" titles, the ASA/CRA Super Series and ASA Southern Super Series. Sammy Smith was the runner up to Derek Thorn a year ago.

William Sawalich may be a Snowball Derby rookie, but he's already made plenty of waves. Then there's Bubba Pollard, who has won everything under the sun at Pensacola but is still searching that elusive Tom Dawson Trophy.

Jeremy Doss is the Deep South Cranes Blizzard Series champion and almost overlooked as a potential winner. Garcia won twice with the Southern Super Series this year when his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule offered him the opportunity to compete. He means business. Erik Jones is a two-time winner of the race. Betting on 'That Jones Boy' might be worthy again.

Sammy Smith
Gio Ruggiero
Ryan Preece
William Sawalich
Bubba Pollard
Erik Jones
Jake Garcia
Jeremy Doss

Could Be in the Money

Anyone here can win the Snowball Derby and there is a path for each of these drivers to do so. There is plenty of speed and success on this list, including some former Snowball Derby winners, but they may not be considered among the favorites going into this weekend.

Travis Braden
Jackson Boone
Matthew Craig
Luke Fenhaus
Jake Finch
Jacob Gomes
Noah Gragson
Derek Griffith
Jace Hansen
Augie Grill
Michael Hinde
Carson Hocevar
Conner Jones
Derek Kraus
Carson Kvapil
Jett Noland
Connor Okrzesik
Preston Peltier
Kole Raz
Hunter Robbins
Johnny Sauter

Not So Dark Horses

Many of these drivers are incredibly accomplished, with no shortage of wins and championships in Late Model competition. However, most of the names on this list either have enjoyed limited success in the Snowball Derby or are well short on track time in a Super Late Model at Five Flags compared to the competition.

John Bolen
Chase Burda
Albert Francis
Michael House
Caden Kvapil
Treyten Lapcevich
Ryan Moore
Haeden Plybon
Dustin Smith
Billy VanMeter

Long Shots

These drivers are mostly rookies and would have to turn some heads to end up in victory lane.

Johnny Aramendia
Stuart Dutton
Travis Rodewald
Conner Sutton
Eddie VanMeter
Timothy Watson

-Photo credit: Will Bellamy/Racing America

56th Derby


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