PENSACOLA, Fla. – The king of Snowball Derby week was at it again Friday night at Five Flags Speedway.
Augie Grill collected his eighth overall victory during Derby competition with a thrilling win in the 75-lap season finale for the Modifieds of Mayhem Tour at the half-mile oval in the Florida panhandle.
Already a two-time Snowball Derby champion and three-time Snowflake 100 winner, Grill added his third Derby modified victory by outdueling a hard-charging Cody Stickler in the final laps.
His winning pass came with six to go, seeing Grill duck underneath Stickler and then pull away.
“That was fun,” Grill told SPEED SPORT in victory lane. “It’s no fun running fifth, and it’s no fun leading by a straightaway and winning it. It’s fun to mix it up with other guys and be able to pass and race people. And I was able to do that tonight. Actually, when that 99 (Stickler) got by me, I really thought he had us beat. I don’t know if he used all he had to get by me or if I just got smart and made my car faster, I don’t know, but we were able to get him back.
“It’s just real, real cool. I think I’ve got probably more wins than anybody on Derby weekend and to add another one tonight feels great.”
Grill, who led 32 laps in total and never ran worse than fourth in the modified feature, had to fight off multiple challengers before collecting the checkered flag by 1.3 seconds at the end of the night.
One of those was Kyle Purvis, who actually passed Grill for the lead on lap 47, shortly after a restart where Grill struggled a bit to get going out front.
However, Purvis slowed with mechanical issues working lap 51, ending his quest for victory.
“The first 30 or 40 laps there, I just saved all I could. When Purvis got behind me there and pressured me pretty hard, I didn’t want to run any harder than I had to,” Grill noted. “He got by me and I hate that he had problems, because I think it would have been fun to race with him. But even then I was still trying to save my right rear tire.
“I think it was a smart move, because I believe I had the most right rear tire left at the end of this race.”
Stickler was the final driver to take a shot at Grill, moving into the race lead on lap 58, but his car faded with six laps to go and Grill was able to pounce back to reclaim the top spot for good.
The driver of the No. 99 hung on for second, but was disappointed he couldn’t bring home the win.
“That was all I had,” Stickler lamented. “Augie’s so good here, though. The only thing … if I had waited a few more laps and maybe went with 10 to go to try and get by him, I think I would’ve had a better shot. Going with, I think it was 20 to go, just gave him enough time to get back by us.
“If I had waited another 10 laps, I might’ve been able to stay in front of him.”
Bruce Bennett finished third, followed by Korey Ruble and Johnny Walker.
A multi-car accident on a lap-52 restart decimated the field and left only 11 of the 29 starters running at the checkered flag.
Augie Grill, Cody Stickler, Bruce Bennett, Korey Ruble, Johnny Walker, Brandon Bendele, Rocky Rogers, Bill Burba, John Sarppraicone, Christopher Hogan, Larry Hughes, Kevin Peel, Zach Knowles, Ty Roberts, Chase Oliver, Chris Cotto, Jeff Letson, Kevin Doran, Kyle Purvis, Jim Wall, Hunter Evans, Parker Pugh, Blake Ferguson, Todd Cooper, Okie Mason, LB Skaggs, Donald Crocker, Nick Pressler, Derrick Griffin.