Picking a winner.
We do it all the time when we go to the track. You're sitting with your significant other, your buddies or your girlfriends and someone will ask, “Who is going to win?” You all take turns picking drivers for various reasons. Maybe because he's got a cool name or the car they drive looks real sharp. Maybe it is someone who you've seen win before. Maybe you are impressed with what they did in practice. It's all a part of the fun, but when it comes to the Snowball Derby how can you pick a winner? There are just so many great drivers assembled at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida for this race.
The race is filled with interesting moments, cars without hoods, scoring mishaps, fuel mileage wins, pit stop strategies, wins from the pole, wins from the rear, last lap passes, photo finishes and many more other things have changed the outcome of the event.
There are way too many variables to the race, the weekend, and far too many chances to make mistakes to bet the farm on the Derby.
However, that's why it's 300 laps and that's why it's the Snowball Derby.
This year's staff will take a shot in the dark at picking the winner and you can do the same by going over to our Facebook Feed Presented by Five Star Race Car Bodies and tell us who you think is going to win and why. In the meantime enjoy our picks, but keep in mind, last year, Mike Garvey got the most votes and he failed to finish the race while eventual winner Johanna Long didn't receive a single staff vote. So, keep in mind, these are all in fun and by no means should mean, well, anything other than fun.
Derek Pernesiglio, 51 Radio Pit Reporter
Pick: Jeff Fultz
"All around, he’s one of the best short trackers in the country. He’s a three time Southeast Series Champion and the winningest driver in the series before it folded. The first ARCA race I ever saw at Charlotte, Jeff won. One night years ago, I saw Fultzy come from three laps down and catch Jay Sauter with five to go to win at Myrtle Beach. Legendary PR Rep Bill Desmond said in Victory Lane, “In all my year in this series I’ve never seen anyone come from that many laps down to win.” Jeff works on his own stuff, sets it up, drives it, wins in it and has drivers that drive for his team that win too. He’s my pick."
Elgin Traylor, 51 Radio Producer
Pick: Stephen Wallace
"I almost hit the jackpot with Donnie Wilson a year ago, but this year I think we will see a driver add their name to the Tom Dawson Trophy for a second time. Every time he comes south to run the Snowball Derby he runs well and I think the combination with Richie Wauters will be enough to land Stephen Wallace in victory lane for the second time in his career in the Snowball Derby."
Jamie Williams, Photographer
Pick: Landon Cassill
"Returning with the same team he ran a very strong 4th with last year should give him the edge to take the win this year."
Matt Kentfield, Snowball Derby Editor, 51 Radio Broadcaster
Pick: Chase Elliott
"I wanted so badly not to pick one of the "Big Three" Deep-South Super Late Modelers (Elliott, Grill and Pollard) for my pick, but it was just so hard not to. A bunch of people ran through my list of drivers that could win, but the one guy I kept coming back to was Elliott. He's won just about everything else that there is to win, so why not? He probably could've won last year's race had it not been for a tangle with Landon Cassill (who, ironically, was one of my other finalists), so I think he's got that bad taste in his mouth to try to win it now."
Tim Quievryn, Reporter
Pick: Bubba Pollard
"I believe this is finally the year Bubba Pollard is going to break through and claim the victory. He's got 19 feature wins in 2011 and has come close to winning the Derby in years where he hasn't been as dominant. He just needs a little good luck after the last few years of near-misses, I believe the "Luck Bank" is going to write him a blank check."
Matthew Dillner, 51 Radio Pit Reporter
Pick: Landon Cassill
"Landon needs a win. While he's driven in NASCAR's big leagues for the past few years, it's been a long time since he's held a checkered flag in his hand. He was determined to do so last year and came so close he could taste it. The Snowball Derby is a race that is very special to him. That determination and the experience/knowledge he's gained on the Cup side will propel him to the win."
Ally Fulson, Reporter
Pick: Augie Grill
"I'm going to take two-time champ Augie Grill for a third Derby win. He's got the '11 Blizzard Series title and stayed home from the World Crown 300 to work on Derby prep? Must be some serious stuff going on in that GARC shop."
Bob Dillner, Speed51.com Executive Editor, 51 Radio Broadcaster
Pick: Ross Kenseth
"Honestly, picking a winner for the Derby is like trying to find the best tires in the Hoosier trailers when tech day opens on Wednesday. But, Ross came so close to challenging for the win in last year’s Snowball Derby. He was about to make his charge when he was the innocent victim of another person’s mess. This kid has talent… in fact, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. He has run up front nearly each and every race he has been to and I like the fact that he and guys like Chris Wimmer and Eric Jones stepped out of their Midwest roots, unlike others that have already hibernated for the winter. I think it’s going to be a Midwest sweep of the Final Three (of the year); Wimmer in the World Crown, Jones in the Gov Cup and Kenseth in the Snowball Derby."
Daniel Vining, Reporter
Pick: Landon Cassill
"Last year Cassill came ever so close to hoisting the Tom Dawson trophy, only to fall off the bumper of eventual winner Johanna Long. That late race spin took him out of contention, but he really showed his might. He came close to winning the Snowflake 100 as well. There, he was DQ'd for a cross-weight violation and I am sure is looking for some redemption this year."
Ryan McCullough, Reporter
Pick: Augie Grill
"The two-time Derby champion looks to close out a successful 2011 with another win on Pensacola's famed half mile. Grill dominated the Blizzard series en route to the season championship, and building the race cars he drives (and competes against) gives Grill even more of leg up. Every time Grill's bright red Ford enters the track, fans and competitors alike know who to keep their eyes on. With a third win in Late Model racing's crown jewel event, the "Prince of GARC" would lay claim to being "King of Pensacola."
Matt Prieur, 51 Radio Broadcaster
Pick: Boris Jurkovic
"He was strong at Lucas Oil Raceway before running out of gas. Then after going a couple of laps down, he fought back to win the biggest race of his career in the Winchester 400 to redeem himself from LOR.
He's riding some great momentum off of that impressive and dramatic win at Winchester, he's fast on the 1/2 mile high-banked tracks and would cap off an already career season by bringing the Snowball Derby Trophy back North."