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In a discipline suddenly besieged by teenagers, it was a surprised to see so many veterans atop the leaderboard in qualifying for the 50th Annual Snowball Derby.

Preston Peltier and Bubba Pollard will lead the field to green on Sunday for the 300-lap Super Late Model Classic. Two-time Snowball Derby winner Augie Grill posted the third fastest lap. The average age between them is 37.

Peltier was the ninth of 53 drivers to turn a lap around Five Flags Speedway and did so in 13.319 seconds. Because lap speeds tend to go up as the temperature drops, few expected the time to hold. That was especially true when heavy hitters like Kyle Busch, Ty Majeski and Bubba Pollard were set to try after him.

But the time stood, withstanding its closest call when Pollard just missed the top spot by 0.025 of a second.

“This is my new sidewinder that Hamke built for me, five weeks ago, brand new car,” Peltier said. “Best car I’ve ever sat in. So, I don’t know, maybe it’s got something for Sunday too.”

“I honestly didn’t think we would be here,” Peltier said. “I thought Bubba would knock us off the pole. But let me tell you something, this is my new sidewinder that Hamke built for me, five weeks ago, brand new car.

“Best car I’ve ever sat in. So I don’t know. Maybe, it’s got something for Sunday too.”

Pollard had dominated the week thus far, pacing Thursday practice and leading the final practice before time trials on Friday too. But the southern Late Model ace said he had too much oversteer to knock Peltier from the top spot.

“We were free everywhere, but it was a good lap,” Pollard said. “We’ve had a good car all week. But so has Preston. We tested at the same time he did. So we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

But most of the surprise drama actually came from those who were expected to easily qualify into the field but were well down the charts. Reigning Southern Super Series champion Stephen Nasse finished the session in 30th and was the final driver to make the field on his qualifying time.

Donnie Wilson and defending race winner Christian Eckes matched his time but failed to qualify in due to posting their laps after Nasse. However, both drivers will make the race due to provisionals. Wilson will start 36th on Sunday due to his Southern Super Series championship points and Eckes will start 37th due to his past champions provisional.

Still, that’s not how Eckes expected to make the show.

“I made a mistake through the corners,” Eckes said while biting his nails after the session. “I messed us up for the second lap. The first lap was pretty good. We had good turn and drive. I just messed it up for the team, but at least we can start rear of the field.

“I’m still happy about where our car is at entering tomorrow.”

COMPLETE SNOWBALL DERBY COVERAGE

Wilson’s bad lap was due to a parts failure just before time trials.

“We had a rack-and-pinion go bad,” he said. “So we changed that and it was just a completely different car.”

And then there is Nasse, whom one year after contending for the win despite making the Derby through a Last Chance Race, once again finds himself having to race from deep in the field.

“I told myself all weekend that we were going to be prepared to not have that happem again, and here we are,” Nasse said. “We’ve got a good car. We’ve got good guys. We can overcome this. We just have our work cut out for us tomorrow.”

Saturday will bring a last chance race for those who did not make the field in qualifying or with a provisional. Before that will be final practice for those who have already qualified into the field.

The complete results of time trials can be viewed below.

  1. Preston Peltier 16.319
  2. Bubba Pollard 16.344
  3. Augie Grill 16.419
  4. Mason Mingus 16.437
  5. Jeremy Doss 16.441
  6. Chase Purdy 16.460
  7. Chris Davidson 16.461
  8. Ty Majeski 16.475
  9. Cole Butcher 16.480
  10. Spencer Davis 16.514
  11. Jeff Choquette 16.514
  12. Casey Roderick 16.520
  13. Connor Okrzesik  16.521
  14. Dan Fredrickson 16.521
  15. Kyle Busch 16.530
  16. Kyle Plott 16.530
  17. Chandler Smith 16.544
  18. Raphael Lessard 16.552
  19. Logan Boyett 16.553
  20. Noah Gragson 16.571
  21. Brandon McReynolds 16.573
  22. Harrison Burton 16.576
  23. Cole Rouse 16.582
  24. Anthony Cataldi 16.609
  25. Boris Jurkovic 16.621
  26. Corey LaJoie 16.624
  27. Kason Plott 16.649
  28. Jake Crum 16.653
  29. Cassius Clark 16.658
  30. Stephen Nasse 16.660
  31. Donnie Wilson 16.660
  32. Christian Eckes 16.660
  33. Derek Kraus 16.664
  34. Brandon Oakley 16.705
  35. Tyler Dippel 16.705
  36. Tate Fogleman 16.734
  37. Garrett Jones 16.743
  38. Dustin Smith 16.744
  39. John DeAngelis Jr. 16.749
  40. David Rogers 16.769
  41. Kyle Bryant 16.778
  42. Jeremy Pate 16.782
  43. Donald Crocker 16.786
  44. Joe Aramendia 16.815
  45. Steven Davis 16.843
  46. Rich Bickle Jr. 16.847
  47. Jerry Artuso 16.855
  48. John Coffman 16.882
  49. Dennis Schoenfield 16.897
  50. Ben Rowe 16.947
  51. Garrett Evans 16.967
  52. Stuart Dutton 17.137
  53. Jeff Firestine 18.159

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

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