December 7, 2013 — Report by Jacob Seelman for Race Chaser Online with contribution from Speed51.com — Pensacola, FL — This year’s Snowball Derby weekend has become Chase Elliott’s personal stomping ground.
And Saturday night, the utter domination of the Dawsonville sensation continued. After shattering the Pro Late Model track record in qualifying for the 15th annual Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100, Elliott used tire strategy to perfection, falling to sixth at halfway before methodically picking off his competition one by one on a massive 88-lap green flag run. He finally caught fellow NASCAR young gun John Hunter Nemechek with a dozen laps to go and hounded the rear bumper of Nemechek’s #8, making the race’s decisive pass with 6 laps remaining.
From there, Elliott never looked back, becoming the first driver in Snowflake 100 history to win the Pro Late Model classic three times.
“I didn’t expect the race to go that green that long. I don’t think anyone did,” Elliott said in Victory Lane. The driver of the #9 led a total of 16 laps en route to the record-setting triumph. “I’m glad I had someone like John Hunter to race though. He’s really good and hard to beat.”
When asked about his chances to complete the sweep of the Snowflake and the Derby, something no driver in Five Flags history has ever accomplished, Elliott grinned before replying.
“Our goal is to get both of these races here this weekend; I definitely think we can get it done if everyone does their job to the best of their ability.”
After the furious battle with Elliott and leading 31 of the race’s 100 laps, Nemechek ultimately came home second in his Snowflake debut, 1.996 seconds behind at the checkered flag.
“We had a lot of fun tonight,” Nemechek said post-race after shaking hands with Chase on a well-fought race. “Just used up our tires too quickly.”
Justin South finished third in what he anticipates was his final Pro Late Model start, after leading 53 of the race’s 100 laps. South looks to move up to the Super Late Model ranks for 2014.
2005 Snowflake winner Hunter Robbins came home fourth and Dwayne Buggay completed the top five. Two-time Snowflake winner Augie Grill could never mount a serious challenge over the course of the event and came home 8th in a grind where only thirteen of the 36 starters finished on the lead lap.
The race was brutal on several of the drivers who entered the night as favorites to challenge for the win. Two early crashes, one on lap 5 and a massive eight-car melee on lap 12 that sparked a red flag, took out names like Ryan Luza, Spencer Davis, Ben Kennedy, and Wayne Niedecken Jr., all of whom were anticipated to challenge for top ten finishes.
Daniel Hemric, another pre-race favorite who qualified fourth for the Snowflake, was among the fastest in practice on Thursday and looked strong in the early going, went out at lap 40 with a broken throttle linkage. He was ultimately scored 29th.
Garrett Jones was chosen as the Snowflake 100 Best Appearing Car.
The Snowball Derby now takes center stage, with the 300 lap winter classic going green tomorrow afternoon at 2 PM ET, 1 PM CT. Speed51.com will begin live audio coverage of the event, including pre-race festivities, at 1 PM ET, 12 PM CT.
PHOTO CREDIT: Speed51.com
RACE RESULTS – 15th Annual Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100
|2||8||John Hunter Nemechek||100|
|18||5K||Daniel Keene, Jr.||99|
|19||7||John DeAngelis, Jr.||99|