DERBY: Hunter Robbins Claims Surprise Pole for 47th Annual Snowball Derby

Jacob Seelman Featured, Other Late Models, Southeast, Stock Cars 0 Comments

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Report by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Photo credit Ben Twingley/PNJ —

It’s one thing to be on the pole at Five Flags Speedway. It’s another to be on the pole for the Snowball Derby.

And it’s even one more thing to be sitting on the pole…with your girlfriend to your outside.

All three of those scenarios applied to 23-year-old Alabama native Hunter Robbins on Friday night, after he claimed the pole for the 47th Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags during Pole Day for the country’s biggest short track spectacular.

The 2005 Snowflake 100 winner and 2010 Snowflake polesitter clocked a quick lap of 16.212 seconds (111.029 mph) around the historic Florida half-mile to claim his first career Derby pole ahead of girlfriend and 2010 Snowball Derby champion Johanna Long.

“We spent a long time working on this thing, picking and choosing our races,” Robbins said during a 51 Sports interview following qualifying. The Alabama native has never started inside the top ten for the Snowball Derby. “We’ve been really underfunded this weekend, and we bought one set of practice tires.”

“We borrowed a set of tires from Johanna,” Robbins added.  “We were saving our set of stickers for today and wanted to make our mock run.”

Long’s lap of 16.228 (110.919 mph) seconds wasn’t enough for the pole, but it will line her up second in her pursuit of a second Tom Dawson Memorial Trophy on Sunday afternoon.

2014 All-American 400 pro late model winner John Hunter Nemechek lines up third on the grid for Sunday’s 300-lap affair (16.232) and alongside him in row two will be short track superstar Augie Grill (16.239), searching for his third career Derby win after back-to-back triumphs in 2007 and 2008.

Scotty Ellis rounded out the top five with an impressive qualifying effort, posting a lap of 16.262 seconds. He will be searching for his first career Derby victory as well on Sunday.

Ross Kenseth, Derrick Griffin, Daniel Hemric, Mike Garvey and two-time defending Snowball Derby champion Erik Jones round out the rest of the top ten qualifiers.

The top thirty drivers on speed were locked into Sunday’s Derby main, with 62 cars taking time in an effort to qualify.

Notables who locked themselves in but will have a longer road to climb on Sunday include this year’s NASCAR Nationwide Series champion and 2011 Snowball Derby winner Chase Elliott (12th), 2014 Southern Super Series champ Bubba Pollard (15th), NASCAR national series competitor Corey Lajoie (23rd) and ARCA Racing Series title runner-up Grant Enfinger (29th).

Three drivers also received guaranteed spots via provisional for Sunday’s Derby — David Rogers via the Blizzard Series provisional, Anderson Bowen via the Southern Super Series provisional and Clay Rogers via the past event champion’s provisional. That means 33 of the 37 positions on the grid are now confirmed for Sunday afternoon.

The remaining 29 drivers will vie for the four transfer spots in tomorrow’s Last Chance Qualifier. Names like Travis Braden, Garrett Jones, Jacob Gomes, Austin Theriault, Harrison Burton, Ty Majeski and three-time ARCA/CRA Super Series champion Johnny VanDoorn are among those who will be looking to punch their ticket into the biggest late model race in the United States.

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