PENSACOLA, Fla. – Jace Hansen started from the pole during the Snowball Derby Last Chance Race Saturday and led the entire 50-lap distance to lock himself into Sunday’s 300-lap main event at Five Flags Speedway.
Hansen did everything right during the 50-lap last chance race, which was run without a caution flag. He took the lead at the start and survived brief challenges from Carson Hocevar and Derek Kraus to win the race.
The 50-lap feature advanced the top-four finishers into the Snowball Derby field. Hansen was joined by Kraus, Hocevar and Brandon Watson. They will start 31st through 34th, respectively, in Sunday’s race.
Hocevar started third and quickly moved into second around Brad May, who started second. Hocevar ran in second for much of the race and at one point closed to the back bumper of Hansen, but faded late in the run and gave up the runner-up spot to Kraus.
Kraus soon closed in on Hansen, but with no added benefit to winning the 50-lap race, Kraus settled in and followed Hansen across the finish line in second.
Behind the leaders, all eyes were on Watson and a fast closing John DeAngelis, who started ninth and was trying to race his way into the Snowball Derby. With 27 laps left DeAngelis worked his way past Michael House for fifth, but he had a large gap to make up on Watson if he wanted to race his way into the Snowball Derby.
DeAngelis cut a big chunk out of the lead Watson had built up, but without the benefit of a caution flag DeAngelis ran out of time and finished fifth.
Rich Bickle Jr., who is competing in the final race of his legendary career, finished ninth and failed to advance into the Snowball Derby. However, track promoter Tim Bryant has guaranteed Bickle a starting place in Sunday’s feature should he not qualify for the race any other way. He will start 37th in the 37-car field. Bickle is a five-time Snowball Derby champion.
Jace Hansen, Derek Kraus, Carson Hocevar, Brandon Watson, John DeAngelis, Cassius Clark, Michael House, Lee Tissot, Rich Bickle Jr., Boris Jurkovic, Kyle Bryant, Paul Shafer Jr., Eddie VanMeter, Brad May, Perry Patino.