JONES: Snowball Derby Diary No. 1

Erik Jones scored the biggest win of his young career Sunday when he held off Kyle Busch to win the 45th running of the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. (Photo Courtesy Venturini Motorsports)

PENSACOLA, Fla. – It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since we won the Snowball Derby.

Making a return as a past champion definitely has its perks – we were guaranteed a starting spot – however the pressure to preform is high. Since our win we have established a solid relationship with Kyle Busch and his team at Kyle Busch Motorsports. I’m happy to cap off the year with them here after a solid Truck season, the win at Phoenix and the win at the Winchester 400.

Wednesday was day one for us at Five Flags Speedway. It rained most of the day but we were able to get the pit area set up and our car through tech. On Thursday we had six hours of practice to get the No. 51 Phoenix Construction Toyota Camry dialed in for qualifying and the race on Sunday. We left the track a little unsatisfied with our final run, yet we knew we had learned a lot and still had practice time left to get it right.

Yesterday we returned to the track for two hour long practice session before qualifying. We worked on getting the car to turn on long runs and qualifying setups for that evening. Out of the 57 cars attempting to qualify into the top 30 we ended up 12th . Today we return to the track for one hour of practice. Our plan is to keep working on the car and get it to roll the center better as well as keep the drive off the corners. If we can put those two together we will be good.

This is the first time I’m working with Chris Gabehart (Crew Chief). He has a solid reputation in the late model world and so far I’ve really enjoying working with him. He is a great leader and motivator. He knows how to set up a car and I’m looking forward to him calling the race for me on Sunday.

The Snowball Derby is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla.