NASCAR racing is over for the season and so too is the Sprint Cup gala banquet in Las Vegas, but stock car racing got one more burst of excitement with the Snowflake 100 and Snowball Derby 300 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida this weekend.
The half-mile asphalt track with 13 degree high-banks attracted a strong field of competitors from the South and beyond, with many of the competitors having NASCAR roots, some very deep.
The side-by-side bumping and banging for more than 300 half-mile treks of full fury with a squad of NASCAR second generation sons in the mix was real short track adventure.
Late cautions added 15 more laps before the checkered flag could wave.
At the finish line the male-dominated field chased one fast girl—and came up short. Johanna Long, just 18, outlasted the determined guys to win.
Long has raced in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, so she is no stranger to top speed.
The track has a strong and long tradition of racing in its 53-year history, but it seems that during the present era, a drove of youthful drivers have been drawn to this Pensacola big winter event for fast reasons.
NASCAR driver dads—Bill Elliott, Matt Kenseth and Dave Blaney—have to be proud watching their sons—Chase Elliott, 15, Ross Kenseth, 17 and Ryan Blaney, 16—race this high bank track.
No genetic speed is guaranteed, but family bonding often produces.
Chase Elliott surged to the front during the running of the Snowflake 100 to take the checkered flag for the Elliott family.
NASCAR Cup driver Landon Cassill, 21, ran second in the 100 lap race in the JEGS.com Chevrolet. Along with two-time ASA champion Gary St. Amant, Cassill tutors Cody Coughlin, 14, who races the JEGS Late Model during summer months. Cassill finished a respectable fourth in the Snowball 300. Look for more from JEGS.
It’s not all about youth, but the event certainly is much about NASCAR drivers. NASCAR Sprint Cup driver David Regan has packed a lot of experience into his 24 years, and former NSCS driver David Stremme is hardly elderly at 33.
Kyle Busch grew up on NASCAR tracks and before TV cameras, and at only 25 he tapped T.J. Reaid, 21, to pilot his Snowball entry for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Busch was the 2009 winner of this coveted race.
Ryan Seig, 23, has tested his skills in the Camping World Truck Series and Cale Gale, 25, has raced for Kevin Harvick in the Nationwide Series.
Gale got the pole position for the Snowball 300.
NASCAR Nationwide driver Steven Wallace, 23, son of racing legend Rusty Wallace, won the 2004 Snowball Derby and was on stage for driver introductions.
Check the Snowball numbers: 48 cars attempted to qualify, 37 drivers qualified and many didn’t finish.
Thirteen cautions occurred while plenty of race terminal crashes and spins happened. It was a nose-to-tail short track thrill from flag to flag.
At the end, Johanna Long prevailed.
It’s hard to script a more pleasing result if you are a female racing fan, but if you are a male racing fan, you got something great as well.
Is there something better than a pretty girl who dares to dangerously compete?
Try chasing that, guys.
Photo credit: Johanna Long / Donald Long Racing and JEGS.com