The annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway is to the super late model world what the Daytona 500 is to NASCAR — a historic event with glory and bragging rights on the line.
This year’s 300-lap of short-track racing grit is the 51st running of the race on the half-mile asphalt oval in Pensacola, Florida, and the field is nearly set.
NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver Harrison Burton, who will race full time with Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2019, will start on the pole for Sunday’s race at 3 p.m. ET. Other NASCAR notables include Noah Gragson, who qualified eighth, and Stewart Friesen, who will start 14th. The starting lineup will be complete following a last chance qualifier on Saturday, a 50-lapper where the top four finishers transfer into the main event.
Not only do the best late-model racers from across the country like Augie Grill and Bubba Pollard flock to Florida’s panhandle for the short-track showdown, but some of NASCAR’s biggest stars invade the scene, as well.
The past nine Snowball Derby race winners have made starts or have won races in NASCAR’s national series. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch is a two-time winner, with his first triumph coming in 2009 along with last year’s victory.
Busch is not on the entry list this year, but he will return as a car owner with Gragson at the helm of the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports ride and Raphael Lessard in the No. 51.
NASCAR’s newest Most Popular Driver Award winner Chase Elliott became the youngest winner in Snowball Derby history in 2011, following it up with another victory in 2015. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Erik Jones won back-to-back events in 2012-13, while John Hunter Nemechek was victorious in 2014.
The race is hosted in conjunction with the United States Super Late Model Rules Alliance and isn’t sanctioned by a particular racing organization. Drivers from various late model series, including the CARS Tour, PASS North and South, Southern Super Series and ARCA, come to participate during the first weekend of December.
Green flag for Sunday’s main event is set for 3 p.m. ET.