Snowball Derby Always Draws Stacked Field

Later Start Shouldn't
Kyle Plott (4) and John DeAngelis, shown here at the 2019 Snowball Derby, are among those attempting to qualify for the Snowball Derby this year. (Jacob Seelman photo)

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Sunday will mark the 53rd running of the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway.

Arguably the most prestigious asphalt late model race in the world, the Snowball Derby has been conquered by a large contingent of drivers who have eventually found success in one of NASCAR’s three national touring divisions, including Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott.

The 200-lap event on the half-mile paved oval will pay $25,000 to win and attracts stock car racers from coast to coast who are as interested in adding their name to the winners list as they are padding their bank accounts.

Elliott made history in November for winning his first NASCAR Cup Series championship at age 24. But Elliott, who turned 25 on Nov. 28, won the Snowball Derby nearly a decade earlier.

He first tasted victory at the Snowball Derby in 2011 at age 16. He won the event again in 2015, but has not competed in the late model classic since. This year, he returns to his roots in an attempt to win his third Tom Dawson Trophy.

Elliott will drive a car fielded by James Finich with Ricky Turner as crew chief.

Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Busch is also a two-time Snowball Derby winner, having taken the top prize in 2009 and 2017. He’ll drive a Toyota-powered machine entered by Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Noah Gragson, who drives for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, will drive for Wauters Motorsports in his first super late model venture since winning the Snowball Derby in 2018.

A winner of numerous races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and 2015 ARCA Menards Series champion, Grant Enfinger is scheduled to make an infrequent return to late model racing in an attempt to win the Derby.

Additional drivers with NASCAR and ARCA experience that are on the entry list include Ty Majeski, Chandler Smith, Mason Diaz, Carson Hocevar, Casey Roderick and defending Snowball Derby winner Travis Braden.

NASCAR competitors have a long history of success at Five Flags Speedway.

Daytona 500 winner Pete Hamilton won the Derby in 1974, with Donnie Allison and eventual three-time Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip triumphing the following two years.

Rich Bickle, who is a three-time winner in the Camping World Truck Series and competed in all three NASCAR national divisions, is the winningest driver in Snowball Derby history with five triumphs (1990, ’91, ’96, ’98 and ’99).

Richard Petty Motorsports driver Erik Jones won the Derby in back-to-back years in 2012 and ’13, while Truck Series regulars Christian Eckes (2016) and John Hunter Nemechek (2014) are recent Derby winners.

Other drivers who found success in NASCAR’s national series, who won the Snowball Derby, include Steve Wallace, Ted Musgrave, Rick Crawford, Butch Lindley, Jody Ridley and Gary Balough.

2020 Snowball Derby Entries (As Of Dec. 1)

Michael Atwell, Logan Boyett, Travis Braden, Kyle Bryant, Kyle Busch, Cole Butcher, Kodie Conner, Matt Craig, Ryan Crane, Chris Davidson, John DeAngelis, Mason Diaz, Jeremy Doss, Jesse Dutilly, Daniel Dye, Chase Elliott, Grant Enfinger, Dan Frederickson, Jake Garcia, Noah Gragson, Derek Griffith, Augie Grill, Hudson Halder, Corey Heim, Carson Hocevar, Kaden Honeycutt, Michael House, Casey Johnson, Justin T. Johnson, Boris Jurkovic, Mason Keller, Ross Kenseth, Derek Kraus, Cayden Lapcevich, Bob Lyon, Ty Majeski, Kyle McCallum, Austin Nason, Stephen Nasse, Connor Okrzesik, Jeremy Pate, Perry Patino, Preston Peltier, Kyle Plott, Kason Plott, Bubba Pollard, Hunter Robbins, Casey Roderick, Paul Schafer Jr., Kyle Sieg, Sammy Smith, Chandler Smith, Gabe Sommers, Derek Thorn, Donnie Wilson, Dalton Zehr.

Snowball Derby Race Winners

1968Wayne Niedecken
1969Friday Hassler
1970Wayne Niedecken
1971Dickie Davis
1972Ed Howe
1973Dickie Davis
1974Pete Hamilton
1975Donnie Allison
1976Darrell Waltrip
1977Ronnie Sanders
1978Dave Mader III
1979Freddy Fryar
1980Gary Balough
1981Freddy Fryar
1982Gene Morgan
1983Mickey Gibbs
1984Butch Lindley
1985Jody Ridley
1986Gary Balough
1987Butch Miller
1988Ted Musgrave
1989Rick Crawford
1990Rich Bickle Jr.
1991Rich Bickle Jr.
1992Gary St. Amant
1993Bobby Gill
1994Tammy Jo Kirk
1995Jeff Purvis
1996Rich Bickle Jr.
1997Bobby Gill
1998Rich Bickle Jr.
1999Rich Bickle Jr.
2000Gary St. Amant
2001Wayne Anderson
2002Ricky Turner
2003Charlie Bradberry
2004Steven Wallace
2005Eddie Mercer
2006Clay Rogers
2007Augie Grill
2008Augie Grill
2009Kyle Busch
2010Johanna Long
2011Chase Elliott
2012Erik Jones
2013Erik Jones
2014John Hunter Nemechek
2015Chase Elliott
2016Christian Eckes
2017Kyle Busch
2018Noah Gragson
2019Travis Braden