December 8, 2013 — Report by Jacob Seelman for Race Chaser Online with contribution from Speed51.com — Pensacola, FL — Five years after Kyle Busch Motorsports lost the Snowball Derby on a technical violation, the tides have come full circle.
Over two hours after the original checkered flag had fallen on the 46th annual winter classic and Dawsonville, Georgia native Chase Elliott had celebrated in Victory Lane on a weekend where it seemed he could do no wrong, Ricky Brooks, technical inspector for the Snowball Derby, crushed the spirits of the #9 camp.
After a piece of tungsten, an illegal metal weight, was found in the Elliott machine, the winning drive of Chase and the #9 was disallowed, handing the victory of the 46th annual Snowball Derby and the Tom Dawson trophy to Byron, Michigan’s Erik Jones for the second straight year.
Last year, Erik Jones outdueled Kyle Busch in the closing laps to grab the victory. This year, he’ll take home the big prize driving Busch’s #51 machine without ever officially leading a lap in the event. Note: In 2008, it was KBM driver Brian Ickler who was disqualified from the Snowball victory.
Grant Enfinger officially came home second after a miraculous drive on just seven cylinders, with Brad Keselowski Racing’s Austin Theriault, young gun Hunter Robbins and 16-year-old John Hunter Nemechek completing the top five.
“I don’t believe that is what won those guys the race, but rules are rules,” Enfinger said following the conclusion of post-race technical inspection. “Our guys did a great job all weekend and we had a good car.”
Regarding the disqualification, Ricky Turner, crew chief for Chase Elliott, said following the announcement, “It was an oversight on my part. I messed up.”
And head technical inspector Brooks told speed51.com’s Bob Dillner following the decision, “It was a violation of the rules. It (disqualifying Elliott) is not what I wanted to do, but I had to do it because of that.”
Chase Elliott declined comment following the proceedings.
Strong runs for both Ross Kenseth (8th) and 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion Derek Thorn (9th) gave the smaller teams something to cheer about and characterized a race dominated by attrition and long green flag runs. Twice, the yellow was thrown for a competition caution due to green flag runs of 75 laps, including the race’s first 75 circuits.
Eight total cautions slowed the event and two multi-car incidents took out big names including last chance race winner and 2013 ARCA runner-up Mason Mingus and standout late model young gun Anderson Bowen.
Other top names were plagued by mechanical woes, none moreso than two-time Derby champion Augie Grill, who never even took the green flag due to a broken axle. Mike Garvey (engine), Boris Jurkovic (power steering), 2013 World Crown winner Preston Peltier (power steering), pre-race favorite Daniel Hemric (rear end), David Ragan (broken ball joint) and Bubba Pollard (rear axle) all fell out of the event or were numerous laps down at the finish after coming into the weekend with chances to contend for the win.
Chad Finley, of DeWitt, Michigan, was named the Snowball Derby Rookie of the Race, finishing a best-in-class 13th in his debut at the winter classic.
The lead changed hands 10 times between six different drivers on the track over the course of the race’s 300 laps, but it was the final, off the track change that truly made all the difference. What seemed like a grand slam for Chase Elliott became utter heartbreak for the team who has dominated late model racing over the past two years. Elliott nearly became the first driver in history to sweep the Snowball Derby weekend. After one missed piece, he’ll go home without the broom.
On the other side, it was jubilation for a driver who last year accomplished a dream. This year, Erik Jones repeated that dream.
With the Derby now officially in the books, the 2013 major racing season now comes to a close. The Race Chaser staff will continue to be hard at work through the offseason with continued news, driver profiles, and much much more, including coverage of the Rumble in Fort Wayne indoor midget nationals at the end of the month.
Have a safe racing weekend, and until next time, we’ll see you on the web!
PHOTO CREDIT: speed51.com
OFFICIAL RESULTS: 46th Annual Snowball Derby presented by JEGS
|5||8||John Hunter Nemechek||300|
|17||7||Paul Shafer Jr.||299|