Ross Kenseth had everything going his way in the 2010 edition of the Snowball Derby. His pit strategy worked flawlessly. He sped past just about every car that everyone thought would be strong during the 300-lap race. He was right where he wanted to be inside the final 100 laps.
But, even with his plans working perfectly, he couldn’t avoid trouble ahead of him with just 70 laps to go. He was involved in a tangle that ended any chances of victory.
After thinking about what could have been for nearly 12 months, Kenseth is focused on redemption when he heads to Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida for this year’s installment of the Snowball Derby on December 4th.
“When we pitted with about 80 laps to go, I was the most confident I’ve ever been inside a racecar before,” said Kenseth about his 2010 Snowball Derby. “The car was just so fast. We started 16th, got the lead with about 100 to go, right when I thought we needed to. We ended up passing Chase (Elliott) and passing Johanna (Long), who ended up winning the thing. Then we got in the crash.
“It was a good experience for me. We ran 230 laps or so keeping the car in one piece and good on long runs. I think going back, we have a good baseline for this year’s race and if we can build off of that, I think it’ll be a really good weekend.”
Kenseth is rolling into the Snowball Derby as a conclusion to a solid 2010 season. He won three times on the ASA Midwest Tour and in two of his three starts in the CRA Super Series this year, as well as a win and a championship in the Red, White & Blue series at Wisconsin International Raceway.
2011 sounded a similar to 2010, when Kenseth won in both the ASAMT and CRA. But he ended his 2010 season with a disappointing result in the Snowball Derby. He’s out to not let that happen again this time
“I was pretty upset for a while because I knew we had a winning racecar,” said Kenseth. “We just weren’t there at the end of the race to show it. Obviously you can’t win a race when you come back on a wrecker like that. I hope to have a car that’s a little bit faster than we had last year and if we’re still there and the car’s in one piece, I think we’re going to be a contender at the end of the race this year.”
In order to avenge the disappointment from the 2010 Snowball Derby, Kenseth will once again have to battle with some of the top stars in short track racing their biggest event of the season.
“The biggest thing is just to get the car really good on race runs. It’s going to be a really busy weekend. There’s guys that have been testing for the past few weeks, but we haven’t really had the opportunity to do that. The car’s good on race runs, but the way the Derby goes, you get the longer runs for a little bit, then it turns to kind of a wreck-fest for a little bit too. Staying out of trouble is more important than qualifying.”
How can one race mean so much to a driver like Kenseth? Simple, if you ask him.
“It’s the biggest race of the year. Every year, when you ask anyone in the country who runs on a short track, they say they’ve circled the Snowball Derby. You have guys like David Ragan coming back this year. Then you’ve got guys like Augie Grill, Bubba Pollard, Chase Elliott and all the other guys that run the race every single year. It’s very tough to win it. The guy that does win it, it’s obviously a great accomplishment.”
A great accomplishment that Kenseth hopes to add to his resume on December 4th.