Friday, November 30, 2018

Interview: Christopher Tullis Hopes to Win in Borrowed Car

Christopher Tullis destroyed his primary car during practice for the Snowflake 100 at the 51st Annual Snowball Derby. Now, thanks to the help of a friend, Tullis hopes to contend, and even win this prestigious race in a borrowed car.

Interview: Kyle Bryant Aiming for Success in 51st Snowball Derby

Kyle Bryant is looking to add his name to the record books as a winner in the Snowball Derby, a feat that if achieved, would make him only the fifth driver from Pensacola (Navarre) to do so. He said that if were to win, he could retire that day happily, but the goal for this year is to first make the race, then to finish.

Interview: Jeremy Pate - 51st Snowball Derby Outlaw Stock Winner

A string of Pensacola based drivers winning during this year's Snowball Derby continued on Thursday night. Jeremy Pate passed a fading Derrick Griffin half way through the 50 lap feature and went on to win in the Outlaw Stock division in the 51st Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway.

Pate joins Caleb Burkett (Pure Stocks) and Shanna Ard (Sportsman) as the third Pensacola native to win features in this year's Derby.

Pit Walk - 51st Annual Snowball Derby

Every year at the Snowball Derby, I walk through the pits at Five Flags Speedway and record a video showing a little bit of the chaos that is this prestigious event. It's shaky, raw and unedited... so enjoy!

Derby Days: Thursday is Practice Day.

A fan watches as Carson Hocevar flies down the backstretch. (PixelatedSPEED Photo)
After a rather eventful Wednesday, I went home and tried to write the stories I should’ve written while I was at the track, but failed to do so.  On Thursday morning, I published the stories and articles that I could before heading back to the track.

Thursday is practice day.

The focus was fully on the late models today. By the time I arrived at the track, the first Snowball Derby practice was already underway, so I lingered around the outside wall of the track, getting shots from a photo hole in turn one.

When the time came to head down to the infield, I began shooting as much as I could. Trying to not wind up with 1,000 photos of the same racecar on track, my primary focus today was on candid shots. Yes, I got plenty of car shots, but candids of the folks at the speedway doing the business of racing seem to be my sweet spot.

I didn’t hang out and chit chat as much today as yesterday, instead focusing on attempting to cover as much of the grounds as I could.

Something that I failed to do, however, was keep up with the news of day. It wasn’t until late in the day before I even gave a thought to doing actual journalism. I just got so wrapped up in taking pictures, that before I knew it the bulk of the day had passed me by.

Not wanting to repeat my follies from the day prior, I made the decision to leave the track following late model practice. I stopped by the campgrounds to visit some friends for a spell, then headed home.

I’m glad I did. I spent the rest of the evening reviewing my photos, writing, and posting stories. There is just so much to cover it’s virtually impossible to get it all done. I watched the night’s feature races online while I worked, and was thankful to do so.

I could’ve sat in the stands to watch those races, but being able to get work done while at the same time was critical.

Friday is Pole Day. There will be plenty more practice first… but the focus of this day is qualifying for the 51st Annual Snowball Derby.

Boyett Looks to Carry Pensacola’s Torch to Snowball Victory

Logan Boyett looks to be the 5th Pensacola driver to win the Snowball Derby. (PixelatedSPEED Photo)
Wayne Niedecken. Dickie Davis. Eddie Mercer. Johanna Long-Robbins. Four drivers. They all share two unique characteristics. All four have won the prestigious Snowball Derby, and all are from Pensacola, FL.

Wayne Niedecken Sr. has the distinction of winning the first Snowball Derby back in 1968, and also being the first repeat winner with a second victory in 1970.

Niedecken Sr. passed away in 1993, but his son, Wayne Niedecken Jr., remembered how his dad was able to win those races.

“Dad was noted for being there at the end of races,” he said. “With 15 or 20 laps to go, there he was. Races were a marathon like they still are today… saving stuff and going for the win at the end of the day. That’s what dad was good at.”

Dickie Davis won in 1973 and is still grateful for his victory 45 years later.

“It feels good to win at your home track, knowing you outran the best,” Davis, said. “It’s hard to get perspective of what you’ve accomplished until later on. When I look back now, I feel fortunate.”

Eddie Mercer’s win came in 2005. Mercer broke a 32 year long dry spell for Pensacola drivers with the win.

“I’m proud I got to win that race. That’s all I ever wanted to do in racing and I did it,” he said.

Johanna Long-Robbins won the Tom Dawson trophy in 2010 after using a set of fresh tires to muscle past Landon Cassill in the race’s closing laps.

“I can’t believe I did it,” said Long-Robbins. “It’s absolutely amazing.”

In this 51st running of the Snowball Derby, there is one bullet aiming at bringing a Derby victory back to the City of Five Flags.

Logan Boyett. This season has been a career renaissance. Boyett teamed up Gerald Boyd in the Pro Truck division in last year’s Derby. That was then parlayed into a full-blown track championship run in 2018 at Five Flags.

At this year’s Derby, Boyett plans on continuing his recent winning ways with a victory in both the Pro Truck race and hopefully the 51st Annual Snowball Derby, point of pride for the Pensacola native.

“If I were to win, it would mean the world,” Boyett stated.  “Coming from Pensacola, it means even more.  I’ve been told, you’re one of the few guys that’s carrying the torch.  And that’s true, we’re one of the few remaining drivers around here that carries the torch, and it’s great having these local drivers.   It’s always more important and meaningful to us if we get to hoist a trophy up for a Snowball Derby win.”

Nasse goes to a Backup, then Back to the Primary

Stephen Nasse's Fornite themed Super Late Model (Eddie Richie - Turn 1 Photos)
Stephen Nasse was only able to run a couple of laps in his freshly built Senneker Performance racecar during the first practice for the 51st Annual Snowball Derby before having to break out the backup car. He didn’t hit the wall, but did break the rear end of his Jett Motorsports prepared machine.

Nasse and company made the switch to the backup, a FURY built racecar that Nasse has ran throughout the 2018 season, but still couldn’t get the feel just right.

After some deliberation, the team decided to go back to the primary and transfer the rear end from the FURY car to the Senneker car.

In an article posted on Short Track Scene, Nasse said the initial switch to the backup didn’t pan out the way they wanted.

“The FURY didn’t work out the way I thought it would,” Nasse said. “All the drive that I had on Monday, the turn-ability was non-existent today. Everything that I thought I had on Monday was gone. I don’t know if the track changed or what, but Jeff (Choquette, teammate) and I can’t figure it out.”

If this plays out like Nasse and his team would like, this will be the final swap of racecars for the weekend. That’s a point that many in the grandstands would enjoy… seeing that Nasse’s primary car is wrapped in a special scheme that pays homage to the wildly popular video game, Fortnite.

Nasse posted the 15th best time of the day in his 51 machine, but hope to improve during the two practice sessions set for Friday before Snowball Derby Qualifying.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Jeff Choquette Fastest in Thursday Snowball Derby Practice

Jeff Choquette looks on during practice at the Snowball Derby. (PixelatedSPEED Photo) 
Jeff Choquette ended the first day of practice for the 51st Annual Snowball Derby atop the leaderboards as the fastest cat in town. His time of 16.525 bested Jesse Dutilly, Derek Thorn, Ty Majeski and Bubba Pollard, all of whom are wicked fast at Pensacola’s half-mile.

Choquette down played his position at the top of the heap telling that, “Practice is a little deceiving, you can say, but it’s always nice to be able to be somewhere up front,” Choquette said. “Hopefully we can carry that into tomorrow night and get us a good starting spot for the Derby and focus on race runs.”

Thursday Overall Snowball Derby Practice Results:

Pos # Driver Time 1 9 Jeff Choquette 16.525 2 30 Jesse Dutilly 16.575 3 43 Derek Thorn 16.583 4 91 Ty Majeski 16.606 5 26 Bubba Pollard 16.639 6 14C Connor Okrzesik 16.645 7 7 John DeAngelis Jr 16.661 8 81 Chase Purdy 16.682 9 26S Chandler Smith 16.682 10 51L Raphael Lessard 16.685 11 12 Harrison Burton 16.714 12 11B Logan Boyett 16.715 13 14 Chris Davidson 16.716 14 18 Casey Roderick 16.719 15 51N Stephen Nasse 16.733 16 75 Jeremy Doss 16.742 17 4 Kyle Plott 16.760 18 112F Stewart Friesen 16.780 19 42P Dennis Prunty 16.794 20 5 Jerry Artuso 16.795 21 51A Michael Atwell 16.805 22 79 Kyle Bryant 16.825 23 66 Steve Wallace 16.826 24 48 Preston Peltier 16.833 25 12G Derek Griffith 16.833 26 14H Carson Hocevar 16.854 27 18G Noah Gragson 16.862 28 19 Kason Plott 16.866 29 29 Spencer Davis 16.874 30 53B Steve Wallace 16.879 31 58 Tyler Ankrum 16.888 32 14N Austin Nason 16.890 33 7S Paul Shafer Jr 16.924 34 20 Jack Dossey III 16.936 35 53J Boris Jurkovic 16.947 36 25 Blaine Perkins 16.953 37 89 Perry Patino 16.961 38 24 Mason Diaz 16.963 39 11R David Rogers 17.011 40 2W Donnie Wilson 17.014 41 9K Derek Kraus 17.031 42 91L Patrick Laperle 17.040 43 5M Mason Mingus 17.044 44 37 Kaden Honeycutt 17.088 45 78 Corey Heim 17.112 46 112 Augie Grill 17.114 47 64 Jan Evans 17.329

Thorn Paces Flake Practice in Pensacola

Derek Thorn Topped the Thursday Snowflake 100 Speed Charts (PixelatedSPEED Photo)
2018 NASCAR K&N West Series Champion Derek Thorn paced practice for the Snowflake 100 on Thursday. Thorn’s time of 16.858 tops a stout field of drivers including Casey Roderick, Bubba Pollard, Augie Grill, and Jeff Choquette among others. “We’re not far off,” said Thorn. “The track is going to continue to change,” he added. “The hardest part is just staying on top of it.” Note: Ryan Worsham pounded the outside wall, destroying the tail of his car, before ever completing a timed lap. Worsham’s Snowflake 100 bid came to an end before it started. Thursday Overall Snowflake 100 Practice Results:

Pos # Driver Time
1 43T Derek Thorn 16.858
2 14CH Carson Hocevar 16.895
3 14CO Connor Okrzesik 16.976
4 81P Chase Purdy 17.008
5 24D Mason Diaz 17.048
6 29D Spencer Davis 17.065
7 89F Dylan Fetcho 17.096
8 21P Ryan Paul 7.098
9 1 Michael House 17.101
10 18R Casey Roderick 17.121
11 29K Mason Keller 17.131
12 9C Jeff Choquette 17.169
13 51N Stephen Nasse 17.171
14 00 Brandon Curren 17.174
15 26P Bubba Pollard 17.207
16 97 Cole Anderson 17.208
17 20D Jack Dossey III 17.225
18 5W Justin Wakefield 17.227
19 112G Augie Grill 17.244
20 15J Jake Johnson 17.258
21 46P Jarrett Parker 17.273
22 78H Corey Heim 17.282
23 26B Travis Braden 17.302
24 7B Jackson Boone 17.307
25 55 Brandon Oakley 17.311
26 114 Justin South 17.320
27 11C Stacey Crain 17.329
28 15 Colt James 17.330
29 33D Dillon Oliver 17.358
30 10 Johanna Long-Robbins     17.371
31 35 Jake Garcia 17.374
32 53K Kyle Ivey 17.412
33 51P Perry Patino 17.415
34 30K Bobby Knox Jr 17.417
35 17F Kevin Folan 17.465
36 24T Christopher Tullis 17.471
37 11W JoJo Wilkinson 17.602
38 2 John Bolen 17.603
39 37H Kaden Honeycutt 17.609
40 11A Randall Young 17.611
41 4M Elliott Massey 17.622
42 145 Billy Melvin 17.699
43 44 Dylan Smith 17.711
44 14P Tyler Porter 17.758
45 05 Kyle McCallum 17.988
46 88M Trever McCoy 18.124
47 R7 Ryan Worsham

DQ's a Plenty in Snowball Pure Stock Feature

Chance Imel #325 (PixelatedSPEED Photo)
Chance Imel rolled into Pensacola more prepared than he had ever been for a race. The Pure Stock driver out of Mobile, AL put his number 325 Chevy on the outside of the front row, then set sail in the feature, leading 46 of the race’s 50 laps en route to what he thought was his first career victory.

“This is my first win ever and it’s the Snowball Derby!”, an exuberant Imel exclaimed after climbing out of his career and pounding it’s roof in joy.

That joy turned into defeat as Imel’s car was disqualified during post race technical inspection after failing an engine compression test.

“If the car is wrong it’s wrong,” said Imel. “The compression wasn’t why I was so fast, I was just really hooked up through the corners.”

Mike Moody, who initially was declared the second place finisher, was also disqualified for having illegal lifters.

Imel was the class of the field, and his only true challenge came from Caleb Burkett, who fought within the top five before rocketing up to third by race’s end. After the disqualifications of both Imel and Moody, the first place trophy was handed down to Burkett.

Additionally, fourth place finisher James Hollingsworth and fifth place Matt Jackson were also disqualified for failing the engine compression test.

This moved Darrell McDonald up to second and Tony Boyd up to third, respectively.


  1. #24 Caleb Burkett
  2. #19 Darrell McDonald
  3. #16 Tony Boyd
  4. #1 Corey Boddie
  5. #22 Kevin Merritt
  6. #22C Dylan Courtney
  7. #121 Thomas Norman
  8. #12 TJ Thompson
  9. #30 Bobby Suarez
  10. #42 Brandin Sidner
  11. #91 Sarah Dority
  12. #90 David Johnson
  13. #11L Cameron Leytham
  14. #52 Robert Balkum
  15. #49 Jay Whalen
  16. #34 Corey Pittman
  17. #325 Chance Imel
  18. #12 Mike Moody
  19. #27 James Hollingsworth
  20. #4 Matt Jackson

Griffin Snags Pole and Track Record in Outlaw Stock Qualifying

Photo: DG Performance via
Derrick Griffin, after setting a new track record, will start from the pole in the Outlaw Stock feature portion of the 51st Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL.

Qualifying Results:

Pos # Driver Time
1 51 Derrick Griffin 17.232
2 40 Stephen Nasse 17.542
3 33 Joe Bethea Jr 17.589
4 92 Bubba Winslow 17.618
5 54 Conner Sutton 17.636
6 69 Robert Barker 17.681
7 03 George Gorham Jr 17.699
8 7 Kody Brusso 17.721
9 21F Jason Furrow 17.750
10 1 Donald Crocker 17.761
11 21W Jason Welch 17.771
12 4 Todd Jones 17.788
13 22 Jeremy Pate 17.809
14 407 Jason Vail 17.830
15 9D Brooke Storer 17.840
16 28 Tim Martin 17.862
17 15 Kevin Chase 17.876
18 32 Stuart Dutton 17.886
19 6 Okie Mason 17.929
20 5 Chase Oliver 17.935
21 1B Roger Blevins 17.975
22 26 Corbitt Mosely 18.013
23 64 Jonathan Langham 18.019
24 17 Chris Cotto 18.193
25 96 Rick Pollaro 18.231
26 95 Adam Crawford 18.324
27 14B Adams Briggs 18.419
28 00 Gus Moody 18.434
29 153 Kyle Peters 18.474
30 57 J.R. Skipper 18.575
31 21M Michael Fisher 19.112

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