PENSACOLA, Fla. – One year ago, Grant Thompson left Five Flags Speedway dejected after an engine-related disqualification stripped him of a runner-up Pro Truck finish during Snowball Derby week.
Thursday night, the 14-year-old Alabama native returned to the historic half-mile oval and experienced jubilation in the form of a breakthrough Pro Truck win, marking his first Derby week score at Five Flags.
Thompson outlasted 21 other competitors in a grueling 50-lap feature, taking the checkered flag 2.059 seconds clear of runner-up John Heil after 40 minutes of on-track competition.
The driver of the No. 38 Serendipity of McDonough entry got the jump from the outside pole on the initial start and never looked back. Thompson led all 50 laps for the emotional victory.
“Last year was a little bit devastating; we finished second to Cody Haskins and then had the issue in tech that they had to disqualify us for, so to win this year … in just my second year at the Derby, is incredible,” Thompson told SPEED SPORT in victory lane. “I feel stoked. This is so cool.”
Despite five caution periods in the first 25 laps, the second half of the race went uninterrupted, allowing Thompson to stretch his legs and extend his lead seemingly at will.
“Not to brag, but I do think this truck was pretty quick all night,” chuckled Thompson. “But man, the best drivers in the nation are here this week and to beat them tonight … you can’t ask for more.”
After the checkered flag waved and he climbed out in victory lane, Thompson admitted there was a sizable weight lifted off his shoulders thanks to the win. There was also a feeling of redemption, too.
“We wanted to show people that last year didn’t define us, and I feel like we did that,” he said with a smile. “Hopefully we can carry this momentum over to the pro late model for the Snowflake (100).”
Behind Thompson and Heil, Bubba Gale and Brandon Burks filled out the top five at the finish.
Just eight of the 22 starters were on the lead lap at the end of the Pro Truck feature.
Winners in other classes Thursday night included James Patrick in the 50-lap Sportsman main and Daryl McDonald III in the 35-lap Pure Stock nightcap.
Action at Five Flags Speedway continues Friday, headlined by Country Pleasin’ Sausage Pole Qualifying for the 53rd Snowball Derby, which begins at 6 p.m. CT.
1. Grant Thompson, 2. John Hall, 3. Gavin Graham, 4. Bubba Gale, 5. Brandon Burks, 6. Shane Barbara, 7. Chris Bayhi, 8. Darryl Rudd, 9. Anthony Monroe, 10. Hunter Johnson, 11. Jessie Reid, 12. Jake Wright, 13. Paul Riels, 14. Donnie Hamrac, 15. Howard Langham, 16. Okie Mason, 17. Daniel Bradford, 18. Alan Carter, 19. Logan Boyett, 20. Dalton Chipley, 21. Cooper Hightower, 22. Jason Kimbell.