PENSACOLA, Fla. – Despite the best efforts of Five Flags Speedway officials, the 52nd annual Snowball Derby presented by BJ’s Wholesale Club just wasn’t meant to be on Sunday afternoon.
Off-and-on rain showers forced the postponement of the super late model classic to Monday at 4 p.m. CT (5 p.m. ET), the third time in event history that the race has been pushed back.
The Derby was previously postponed by weather in 2004 and again in 2016, the most recent instance.
A cool but dry morning gave way to rainfall just before 12:30 p.m. CT, as the 37-driver field was leaving the frontstretch stage following the annual Snowball Derby class photo.
Once the rain stopped, track drying efforts – led by a Darlington Raceway jet dryer – commenced until a second deluge hit the Pensacola area shortly after 2 p.m., soaking the racing surface a second time.
Additional drying resumed as the afternoon hours waned, but a third and final storm settled in around 5 p.m. that officially thwarted any chance of racing for the day.
“We gave it a valiant effort, but unfortunately the weather did just not cooperate,” said Five Flags Speedway owner Tim Bryant. “Out of respect to the racers and the fans, when we saw this last line of rain come through, we decided to make the call because we knew even if it stopped raining, it would take too long to prepare the race track.”
Three years ago, the Derby was actually pushed all the way to Tuesday night by inclement weather before then-relative unknown Christian Eckes stormed to a career-launching triumph.
When the 52nd Derby does go green, Snowflake 100 winner and four-time SRL Southwest Tour titlist Derek Thorn will lead the field from the pole, flanked by Canadian Cole Butcher on the front row.
Kyle Busch Motorsports is looking for its third-straight Snowball Derby victory as an organization. Its driver, Georgia’s Chandler Smith, starts 10th in his fourth Derby main event.