Race car drivers always want to win.
But 18-year-old Chase Purdy needed to win.
Purdy was told over the summer that his racing career was likely over unless he could secure independent funding and prove himself worthy of it. In what currently stands to be the last race of his career, Purdy outdueled Bubba Pollard and Connor Okrzesik and won a strange, rain-delayed Snowflake 100 on Sunday night at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.
The race was marred by rain, crashes and several physical altercations.
But Purdy stayed ahead of the chaos, taking the lead on Lap 28 and never looking back. Purdy defeated a Bubba Pollard car that had never lost a race in nine starts, pinching him on the final restart with 44 laps to go and held a two second lead over the final 15 laps.
It was a statement victory when he needed one the most.
“This is all you can do,” Purdy said in Victory Lane. “You couldn’t ask for a better car from Anthony Campi, and (spotter) Branden Lines did a great job on top of the roof. All the guys who put all the hard work into this thing. They stayed after the Derby for a whole week and cleaned this bad boy up and got it ready to go.”
Purdy finished fourth in the K&N Pro Series East and ARCA Racing Series championship standings over the past two seasons, won the Dixieland 250 at Wisconsin International Raceway and now the captured a victory in the most prestigious Pro Late Model race of the year.
The triumph answered a lot of questions about Purdy’s focus, drive and determination during a fairly flawless second half of the race.
“As far as the future goes, we’re still trying,” Purdy added. “I guess this is one way to prove it.”
The race featured an abundance of attrition and crashing. Despite a zero percent chance of rain, a persistent mist that sometimes transformed into a light shower blanketed the track all evening.
It was the cause of numerous crashes, and those crashes in turn was the cause of several confrontations. Of the 31 cars that started the race, only 10 took the checkered flag. Dylan Fetcho, Jackson Boone and Colt James were involved in one ugly crash in which Fetcho’s car was totally destroyed.
Martin Latuulippe also caught severe damage in that crash and said the race shouldn’t have taken place that night.
“The track was fine under caution, and then we took the green flag and it was just wet in Turn 1,” Latuulippe said. “We shouldn’t be racing right now. Look how many torn up race cars there are.”
There was a drivers only meeting before the race, after the track had scrapped qualifying and started the race based on practice times, where drivers were given the option to race or try again on Monday at 6 p.m. They selected the option of racing and using their tires to build heat into the track.
On numerous occasions, the leaders would say the track was raceable and then they would crash.
Pollard came over his radio on Lap 41 and said his peers were “racing like idiots.” He held that sentiment after the race.
“They just needed to be more patient, man,” Pollard said. “There wasn’t no sense in racing like that. Yyou have to use your head. The track wasn’t that bad. You just can’t win the race with 60 laps to go. That’s stupid.”
Pollard had won nine races in a row since building this car before the 2017 Florida Govenor’s Cup. He had won the 2017 Snowflake, Baby Rattler, Master of the Pros, Canadian Short Track Nationals, Mobile 100 and the Snowflake Tune-Up in the car.
Pollard just got beat by Pourdy on the restart.
“We just didn’t have the best restart when we needed to,” Pollard said. “And give Chase credit for pinching me down and breaking my momentum. He kept me in the wet. He did what he needed to in order to win the race and I ran out of time.”
And regarding the long undefeated streak?
“It’s a race car,” Pollard said. “They’re going to lose eventually.”
And it lost to a driver that desperately needed to make a statement.
“This is a really big deal,” Purdy said. “To beat Bubba Pollard and Casey Roderick, and even Connor who is a really good race car driver, that means a lot. I have a lot of respect for those guys. To win this race given the unknowns of my future, that’s really cool.”
The complete results from the Snowflake 100 can be found below.
- Chase Purdy
- Bubba Pollard
- Connor Okrzesik
- Carson Hocevar
- Chris Davidson
- Casey Roderick
- Ryan Paul
- Johanna Long
- JoJo Wilkinson
- Jake Garcia
- Trever McCoy
- Kyle Ivey
- Brandon Curren
- Augie Grill
- Tyler Porter
- Stacey Crain
- Spencer Davis
- Mason Diaz
- Dillon Oliver
- Justin South
- Mason Keller
- Perry Patino
- Dylan Smith
- Jackson Boone
- Dylan Fetcho
- Martin Latulippe
- Colt James
- Bobby Knox Jr.
- Jarrett Parker
- Elliott Massey
- Ryan Worsham