PENSACOLA, Fla. – Derek Thorn banked $1,000 and put himself on the Snowball Derby pole for the second consecutive year during Country Pleasin’ Sausage Pole Night Friday at Five Flags Speedway.
Thorn, a two-time champion of the ARCA Menards Series West, toured the historic half-mile oval in 16.258 seconds (110.715 mph) with his Campbell Motorsports No. 43 to top a 53-car field.
The California native, who was the 40th car to take time, will look for his maiden Snowball Derby victory on Sunday afternoon in the 53rd edition of the super late model classic.
“The scary thing is that lap could have been even better,” Thorn told SPEED SPORT after qualifying. “I missed my marks on the money lap there, my second lap. I missed it just a little bit. I was actually surprised that it was as fast as it was. But all in all, I can’t think Byron and Carol Campbell enough for this team they’ve put together and all the hard work they put into making this thing what it is.
“We had to put this car back together again after Nashville (because of a crash in the All American 400), so it’s reassuring to know that it still has a lot of speed.”
Kaden Honeycutt, who went to the head of the order as the 24th driver out and held that position until Thorn’s run, missed the pole by .019 seconds and will start second (16.277/110.585) on Sunday.
Interestingly enough, Honeycutt believed he should have landed on the pole when he spoke to SPEED SPORT after post-qualifying technical inspection.
“I didn’t have my radio plugged in, so I didn’t realize what (times) I was running, and I just ran the first lap like a normal lap,” explained Honeycutt. “My guys said it was like a 16.29 or something, so I was very surprised. I think I under-drove the car, honestly. I really think I under-drove my good lap. But that comes with experience, man. It’s just a case where you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
“You have to know your throttle points; you have to be confident. I had plenty of confidence in our race car, but we just missed it by a hair. We’ve got a great piece, though, and I think we’ll be good Sunday.”
Ty Majeski qualified third and will be joined on the second row of the grid by Canadian Cole Butcher, with Stephen Nasse filling out the top five.
Snowball Derby rookie Daniel Dye surprised with the sixth-fastest lap in time trials, followed by Jeremy Doss, Matt Craig, two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch and Logan Boyett.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular Derek Thorn qualified a career-best 14th, with fellow Truck Series driver Grant Enfinger slotting in 17th on the Snowball Derby grid.
Other notables who locked into the field by being in the top 30 on speed were Ross Kenseth (22nd), past NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion Cayden Lapcevich (24th) and ARCA Menard Series East driver Mason Diaz (27th).
Reigning Snowball Derby champion Travis Braden didn’t have to use his provisional due to qualifying 29th, with Jesse Dutilly squeaking into the field on time as the final locked-in driver in 30th.
A host of heavy hitters were relegated to the Last Chance Qualifier on Saturday, including two-time Snowball Derby winner Augie Grill (31st), NASCAR Xfinity Series star Noah Gragson (35th), Winchester 400 and Redbud 400 winner Carson Hocevar (36th) and reigning Cup champion Chase Elliott (42nd).
Multi-time ARCA Menards Series winner Chandler Smith, the first car to hit the track Friday night, had his time disallowed for a cell phone violation after his qualifying run and will start last in Saturday’s LCQ.
Perennial favorite Bubba Pollard timed 37th-quick and will fall back on a provisional to start Sunday’s race after winning the Five Flags Speedway super late model track championship this season.
To view complete qualifying results, advance to the next page.