Snowball Derby Recap: Erik Jones Repeats After Chase Elliott Disqualification

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Snowball Derby Recap: Erik Jones Repeats After Chase Elliott Disqualification
Photo by Michael Dempsey
Snowball Derby cars line up for the Super Bowl of short track racing.

The chase was on all afternoon, and none of the drivers could catch the dominant Chase Elliott, who led 233 of the 300 laps of the 46th Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway. Yet the effort was not rewarded as he failed post-race inspection and Erik Jones was declared the winner. 

Jones never led a lap, but became just the third driver to win the prestigious short track race in back-to-back years, joining an exclusive club that includes just Augie Grill (2007-2008) and Rich Bickle (1998-1999 and 1990-1991).

Elliott was the dominant force all week at the Pensacola, Fla. racetrack, winning the pole for both the Snowflake 100 and the Snowball Derby. On Saturday night, Elliott won a record third Snowflake 100. He was the defending champion and won in 2010.

On Sunday in the Snowball Derby, he jumped out to the early lead and led the first 77 laps, led from Laps 106-223 and again from Laps 256-274 when he pitted to change two tires.

It did not take long for Elliott to run down leader Grant Enfinger after his final pit stop with fresh tires, grabbing the lead again at Lap 282 and taking the checkered flag. Enfinger stayed out on the track when most pitted for four tires. Elliot got the jump out of the pits with a two-tire change.

Once Elliot grabbed the lead back, he started to pull away, and the outcome was not really in doubt over the last 18 laps.

While none of his fellow drivers could catch him, head technical inspector Ricky Brooks did. Elliott’s car was discovered to have a piece of tungsten in the race car:

According to Speed51.com, the reason officials have a "no tungsten" rule is “because tungsten is considerably more expensive than lead. Tracks, series and events enforce this rule in order to keep costs as low as possible for teams.”

The driver with best shot of beating Elliott actually was Donnie Wilson, who started 36th. He worked his way up to the front of the pack quickly where he was sitting fourth at Lap 127. He stayed in contention, moving up as close as second, but was bumped on Lap 283 and he dropped back through the field to 11th. He finished 10th.

Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Pensacola native and 2010 Snowball Derby champion Johanna Long checked in 16th.

Bubba Pollard, who qualified second, had a strong car all afternoon and was running third at Lap 221. During the second competition caution, he broke his left rear axle, which ended his day.

Two-time Snowball Derby champion Augie Grill never got his day started. He stopped on Turn 3 during one of the pace laps with a broken axle.

Local favorite Johanna Long, who won the 2010 Snowball Derby, never threatened this year and checked in 16th.

 

Official Snowball Derby Finishing Order

1. Erik Jones

2. Grant Enfinger

3. Austin Theriault

4. Hunter Robbins

5. John Hunter Nemechek

6. David Rogers

7. Kyle Benjamin

8. Ross Kenseth

9. Derek Thorn

10. Donnie Wilson

11. Landon Cassill

12. Ben Kennedy

13. Chad Finley

14. Cale Gale

15. Casey Smith

16. Johanna Long

17. Paul Shafer Jr.

18. Jeremy Pate

19. Clay Rogers

20. Daniel Hemric

21. Stephen Nasse

22. Josh Hamner

23. Mason Massey

24. Spencer Davis

25. Anderson Bowen

26. Logan Boyett

27. Zac Hausler

28. David Ragan

29. Mason Mingus

30. Bubba Pollard

31. Preston Peltier

32. Chris Davidson

33. T.J. Reaid

34. Boris  Jurkovic

35. Mike Garvey

36. Augie Grill

DQ Chase Elliott

 

Official order courtesy of Five Flags Speedway.

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