Jurkovic Paces Frantic Snowball Derby Happy Hour

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Boris Jurkovic was fastest in final practice for the Snowball Derby Saturday. (Jason Reasin photo)

PENSACOLA, Fla. – In a frenetic final practice session Saturday afternoon ahead of the 53rd Snowball Derby, Boris Jurkovic remained cool under pressure.

That mindset paid off with the fastest super late model Happy Hour lap at Five Flags Speedway, giving Jurkovic a bit of a mental edge entering the crown jewel event.

Jurkovic’s No. 53 Rowdy Manufacturing Toyota toured the historic half-mile oval in 16.858 seconds (106.774 mph) to lead 53 cars in preparation for both Saturday’s last chance qualifier and the headlining Snowball Derby on Sunday.

“This car is good. It’s very drivable, very comfortable … the guys made some really positive adjustments in that practice session and I’m extremely happy with it,” Jurkovic told SPEED SPORT. “For here, this is one of the best cars I’ve ever had at the Derby.”

Outside polesitter Kaden Honeycutt continued his strong week in Pensacola with the second-fastest practice lap (16.875/106.667), setting himself up as one of the leading favorites to take home the Tom Dawson Trophy.

“We’re where we need to be, I think,” Honeycutt relayed. “All that’s left is to race it out.”

Hudson Halder finished final practice third on the board, followed by reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott, who is among the leading notables trying to race into the Derby through Saturday afternoon’s 50-lap last chance qualifier.

Mason Diaz filled out the top five, followed by Noah Gragson, Matt Craig, polesitter Derek Thorn, Kyle Busch and Ty Majeski.

Chandler Smith was 18th on the board, while defending Derby winner Travis Braden was 26th. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular Derek Kraus ended the session 33rd.

Inside of 10 minutes to go in the hour, Grant Enfinger’s Go Fas Racing No. 32 slowed rapidly with fluid trailing from the rear end of the car.

Archie St. Hilaire’s crew immediately went to work pulling the motor to inspect it ahead of the Derby, with Enfinger locked in through qualifying and set to roll off 17th Sunday.

“We’re going to pull it and look at our options,” Enfinger said.

Super late model action continues later Saturday afternoon with the last chance qualifier for the 53rd Snowball Derby, which will occur following time trials and the LCQ for the pro late model Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100.