Tuesday March 5th, 2024 10:13AM

Davis charges to Snowball Pro Trucks victory at 5 Flags

By Chuck Corder

Steven Davis kicked off the 56th annual Snowball Derby by leading all 50 laps in Thursday night’s Zoom Equipment Pro Trucks feature at 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida..

The Theodore, Alabama driver scored his second Pro Trucks Derby crown, matching a previous win in 2015. Series track champion Grant Thompson finished second to Davis and Treyce Capers rounded out the podium.

“This is what you work for every year,” said Davis. “We had a really good truck and there are so many people that help us. I’m very thankful.”

Thompson grabbed the pole, but watched his advantage quickly evaporate when Davis stormed past him on the outside at the drop of the opening green flag.

The first caution flew with 18 laps complete, but that did nothing to slow down Davis. He padded his lead throughout, opening it up in the final 10 laps and winning by more than two seconds. Not even lapped traffic could make a dent in Davis’ cushion.

“We didn’t get the best starts,” Thompson said. “We spun the tires. We had a really good truck, but we just got beat tonight.

“I’m very happy for season we had. It feels great to be a two-time champ. But I wanted another Derby win so bad. But it is what it is.”

Patrick Cruises to Second Sportsmen Snowball Derby Title

James Patrick led flag-to-flag in the 50-lap Sportsman feature to capture his second career Sportsmen Snowball Derby championship.

“We had clutch issues the first of year, and that probably prevented us from being the track champions over here,” said Patrick, who won his first Sportsmen Derby in 2020.

In addition to his win, Patrick set a new track record (19.456 seconds), topping the mark he previously held by .027 seconds.

Runner-up Chad Robinson did his best to steal the spotlight from Patrick thanks to a whirlwind day and spectacular performance. Robinson started tail end on the field after arriving late because he decided to race mere hours before the green flag dropped.

Robinson’s decision seemed jinxed when the opening green flag dropped. He unintentionally ran into the back of Howard Langham, as cars ahead of them attempted to avoid a car that couldn’t get up to speed.

“As soon as I looked up, they were stopping,” Robinson said. “They stacked up on the start, I ran into Howard and thought my day was over with.”

Instead, Robinson came into the pits where his team went to work. They wasted no time in ripping off the hood, front fender and any other piece of hanging body damage that prevented their driver from returning to the racetrack.

Robinson slowly began to pick cars off one-by-one, as he made his march to the front.

“I’m stupid. I was sitting at the shop (Thursday) afternoon, and I had an itch to race,” he said. “(Car owner) Eddie (Shoemaker) said, ‘Well, what are you waiting on. Let’s load up.’ ”

“At 6 o’clock, we didn’t have a right side or a front end. Ain’t anybody better than Eddie. He’s the best. I don’t know what to say. I don’t give up. I should’ve done more prep, but it was a blast.”

Brannon Fowler, the 2021 Sportsmen Derby winner, rounded out the podium.

Loper Collects Fourth Pure Stocks Derby Crown in Honor of Late Father

Only one thing would’ve made Robert Loper’s night sweeter at Five Flags Speedway – if his dad could’ve celebrated another Pure Stocks Snowball Derby title with him.

As Loper stood in victory lane on Thursday night, his thoughts drifted to his late father, who passed a few weeks ago. Despite the loss, Loper felt his father’s spirit throughout Thursday night.

“It (stinks) that he’s not here, but he was with me in the car,” the Loper said.

“One of the last things he said to me was, ‘Damn, I’m gonna miss the Derby.’ He’s not missing tonight, baby.”

Loper scored an unprecedented fourth career Pure Stocks Derby crown thanks to some heroic driving down the stretch. After leading for most of the race, he trailed 2022 Derby champ Jimmie Hollingsworth as the final laps of the 35-lapper ticked off.

Following a series of cautions, Hollingsworth led what remained of the 22-car field back to the green with 33 laps complete. As the leaders exited turn 2, Loper pulled off a slingshot maneuver to get to Hollingsworth’s inside. The pair raced side-by-side until Loper reclaimed the lead and darted for the checkered flag.

“People get anxious on those restarts,” Loper said. “Hard work paid off in the end, and we worked our butts off.”

Hollingsworth, a year after capturing his first Pure Stocks Derby title, finished runner-up and Mason Johnston rallied home in third.

Loper has now won two of the last three Pure Stock Derbys and four in the last eight years. He also set a new track record in qualifying with a blistering time of 21.253 seconds, besting Johnston’s previous mark by nearly a full tenth of a second.

“It’s amazing. I don’t know how to express it,” Loper said of another Derby title. “It’s just as exciting as the first one. I didn’t think I could top it, but it keeps getting better.”

The 56th annual Snowball Derby weekend continues on Friday night at Five Flags Speedway, with qualifying for Sunday’s Super Late Model Snowball Derby, along with action from the Modifieds of Mayhem and Crown Stock divisions. On Saturday, the Snowball Derby last chance qualifying race is scheduled, along with Outlaw racing and the Pro Late Model Snowflake 100. That all leads to Sunday’s 300-lap Snowball Derby for the Super Late Models.

For more information, visit 5FlagsSpeedway.com.

Five Flags Speedway – Pensacola, FL
Snowball Derby Night 1 – November 30, 2023

Pro Trucks
1. Steven Davis
2. Grant Thompson
3. Treyce Capers
4. Presley Johnson
5. Allen Carter
6. Okie Mason
7. Nick Loden
8. Jake Moore
9. Brandon Burks
10. Donnie Hamrac
11. Maddox Langham
12. Ryder Wells
13. Brandon Lopez
14. Cody McCawley
15. Bubba Gale
16. Rick Polaro
17. Kenneth Canales

Sportsmen
1. James Patrick
2. Chad Robinson
3. Brannon Fowler
4. Daryl McDonald III
5. Maddox Langham
6. Parker McDonald
7. Howard Langham
8. Austin Evans
9. Corey Boddie
10. Jim Pokrant
11. B.J. Leytham
12. Charles Davis
13. Joe Richburg
14. Billy Hoover

Pure Stock
1. Robert Loper
2. Jimmy Hollingsworth
3. Mason Johnston
4. Robert Barber
5. Payton Guy
6. Thomas Norman
7. Dayton Sidner
8. B.J. Leytham
9. James Dixon
10. Zack Barwinck
11. Daniel Lofton
12. Bobby Suarez
13. Butch Harvell
14. Connor Odom
15. Sean Barnes
16. Zack Jordan
17. John K. Merritt
18. Cameron Leytham
19. Rocky Boyd

  • Associated Categories: NASCAR News, Other Motorsports
  • Associated Tags: motorsports, Auto Racing, Stock Car, Short Track, Asphalt, Late Model, Snowball Derby
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