Derek Thorn will start from the pole during the 54th Snowball Derby. (Brandon Zumbach Photo)
Derek Thorn (Brandon Zumbach Photo)

Another Snowball Derby Pole For Derek Thorn

PENSACOLA, Fla. – For the third consecutive year, Derek Thorn will lead the Snowball Derby field to the green flag Sunday evening at Five Flags Speedway.

Thorn, driving the same Campbell Motorsports car that carried him to a dominant season on the West Coast, secured the pole with a 16.249-second lap around the half-mile paved oval during Snowball Derby qualifying Friday. 

The six-time SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour champion is the first driver in Snowball Derby history to win three-straight poles for the annual super late model spectacular. Midwestern racer Jeff Storm was the final driver to lock himself into the race on his qualifying time.

“Jeff Storm, I was him 10 years ago. I made it in by one thousandth of a second I think and then we flipped that race,” Thorn said. “Crazy to think 10 years later we’re here with our third consecutive pole.

“It’s a group effort. Humbling, satisfying, a bunch of emotions, but it’s just cool to be here.”

Chandler Smith, a regular in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports, qualified second with a 16.303-second lap. Corey Heim, the ARCA Menards Series championship runner-up, qualified third.

Veteran super late model racer Casey Roderick qualified fourth ahead of NASCAR Cup Series star and two-time Snowball Derby winner Erik Jones in fifth. Matt Craig, Hunter Robbins, Bubba Pollard, Casey Johnson and Jake Garcia completed the top-10 in qualifying.

The top-30 drivers in qualifying locked themselves into Sunday’s Snowball Derby, with all remaining drivers forced to race their way into the 300-lap finale via a 50-lap last chance race Saturday prior to the Snowflake 100 pro late model race.

Defending race winner Ty Majeski qualified 19th.

While Thorn was celebrating earning his third-straight Derby pole, Storm was thrilled just to make it into the race.

“I don’t know what to say. I’m so happy,” Storm said. “Our first effort ever and we made the damn Snowball Derby.”

Jake Finch was the first driver who failed to make into the Snowball Derby via qualifying. However, he and Jeff Choquette will each receive provisionals based on the Southern Super Series and Five Flags Speedway championship standings, respectively. 

Choquette failed to turn a competitive lap in qualifying due to a fuel pump issue, leaving him last of the 51 drivers who took time.

Those who will be forced to race their way into the Snowball Derby via the last chance race include NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regulars Carson Hocevar and Derek Kraus, Billy Bigley Sr. Memorial 128 winner Michael Atwell, Canadian star Cassius Clark and Midwestern racer Paul Shafer Jr.

Five-time race winner Rich Bickle Jr., who is making his final competitive racing start, has struggled for speed so far at Five Flags Speedway and failed to qualify for the race on time. However, there is good news for Bickle as track promoter Tim Bryant has guaranteed Bickle a starting position in the race via a promoters provisional. 

54th Snowball Derby Qualifying Results

1. Derek Thorn – 16.249
2. Chandler Smith – 16.303
3. Corey Heim – 16.348
4. Casey Roderick – 16.373
5. Erik Jones – 16.374
6. Matt Craig – 16.374
7. Hunter Robbins – 16.377
8. Bubba Pollard – 16.382
9. Casey Johnson – 16.397
10. Jake Garcia – 16.399
11. Daniel Dye – 16.409
12. Ryan Preece – 16.417
13. Kodie Conner – 16.427
14. Mike Garvey – 16.433
15. Jett Noland – 16.433
16. Mason Diaz – 16.435
17. Cole Butcher – 16.443
18. Jeremy Doss – 16.459
19. Ty Majeski – 16.461
20. Sammy Smith – 16.476
21. Preston Peltier 16.487
22. Kyle Plott – 16.491
23. Jesse Love – 16.500
24. Derek Griffith – 16.501
25. Kaden Honeycutt – 16.504
26. Luke Fenhaus – 16.510
27. Grant Enfinger – 16.516
28. Stephen Nasse – 16.521
29. Dan Fredrickson – 16.523
30. Jeff Storm – 16.535
31. Jake Finch – 16.536
32. Jace Hansen – 16.541
33. Brad May – 16,560
34. Carson Hocevar – 16.563
35. Michael House – 16.568
36. Brandon Watson – 16.604
37. Lee Tissot – 16.605
38. Michael Atwell – 16.611
39. Derek Kraus – 16.621
40. Boris Jurkovic – 16.625
41. John DeAngelis – 16.663
42. Rich Bickle Jr. 16.669
43. Paul Shafer Jr. – 16.670
44. Eddie VanMeter – 16.692
45. Perry Patino – 16.703
46. Michael Hinde – 16.705
47. Kyle Bryant – 16.709
48. Cassius Clark – 16.711
49. John Bolen – 16.788
50. Ryan Crane – 16.861
51. Jeff Choquette – 17.332

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