Two Massachusetts drivers arrived at Five Flags Speedway set to battle just over 40 other competitors this weekend in the Snowflake 100, the precursor to the Snowball Derby.
But, the actual battle might be between the two of them.
Jake Johnson and Kevin Folan have run regularly at Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway in the Pro Stock division, but they have brought their talent to the south to compete against the best in the country, and each other, in the same race. They have shared the track at Seekonk before, but this one is going to be completely different.
Johnson, who won races in the Late Models at Seekonk prior to this season, moved to the Super Late Model division in 2018 and nearly won the championship after winning back-to-back races in the summer. He finished just 30 points back of David Darling in the final point standings and also won the season-finale as part of the Fall Classic in the Late Model class.
He attended his first Snowflake at Five Flags last year.
“It’s pretty wild, there is a lot going on,” Johnson said of the environment in the Snowball Derby pit area. “It can be overwhelming at first, but once you get out there, it’s any old race track. Little faster than what I am used too.”
Johnson is driving a FURY car, different than what he drives up at Seekonk (Jeff Taylor Chassis), but he feels like the car unloaded off the trailer with speed. With a few adjustments on Friday, the Lin’s Propane Trucks team had the No. 15 inside the top 15 in practice.
“The car is pretty good, few bugs we need to fix, we were tight in the center, but it should be pretty close for the race,” Johnson said.
He specifically feels like his speed over a long haul is going to be better than some of his closest challengers and even though it’s his second time in Pensacola, a little simulator work didn’t hurt.
“I feel like we have a good car, and a good long run car compared to our short run,” he said. “I ran some Super Late Model races on iRacing to help get the line down.”
Seekonk, a tough third-mile bullring that drivers in New England say is one of the toughest tracks in the region, has helped him prepare for the experience. “I drove the Pro Stock there all year, same power, learned how to pass, and get everything you need driver wise together before you come to a big race like this.”
Folan, who has become quite the traveler to Florida, has plenty of history at Seekonk in the Pro Stocks and Late Models. In fact, his racing career started as part of Figure 8 and Demo Derby racing at Seekonk before evolving into the Street Stocks. Folan competed in the World Series of Asphalt Racing at New Smyrna Speedway in February and decided he was going to bring the car to Five Flags to try another marquee event.
“It’s exciting and it’s fun, I’ve never seen this many Super Late Models in one pit area. The first time you roll out there, you know it’s going to be pretty fast and you’re a little nervous, but, once you get going, you’re good,” Folan said.
Has the Seekonk experience helped him?
“It does and it doesn’t, it’s just a completely different feel with the amount of speed here. Seekonk helps with the sweeping turn, but it just doesn’t really compare to this kind of speed,” he said.
Much like Johnson, Folan’s first goal is going to be to make the race on speed in qualifying without having to compete in the last chance race. For now, his sights are set on simply making the feature.
“I almost lost it on my third lap out there and that set me back a bit,” Folan laughed. “We picked up three or four tenths by the afternoon on Friday, and that was mostly my driving. By the end of the day, I was comfortable with a line. Hoping we are going to get in the show. The goal is to come down here, have a good time, experience the Derby and just to get in the show. We would consider it a good day.”