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Snowball Derby

Derek Thorn, Kaden Honeycutt Pace Snowball Derby Opening Day Practices

Derek Thorn was fastest in practice and looking to repeat as Derby pole winner

Bruce Nuttleman | STS

Derek Thorn was fastest in final practice on opening day of Snowball Derby week and is aiming to take back-to-back pole positions and maybe more.

The Campbell Motorsports No. 43 led two of the three overall sessions and his 16.414 set in the final session was the quickest of anyone all day, but it likely won’t mean anything for Friday practice and time trials later that night.

“It’s going to rain all night and it will be a whole different ballgame tomorrow,” Thorn said. “Just because you are fast today doesn’t mean you’ll be fast tomorrow. We’ll just have to go out there and try to do the same things that made us fast today.”

Thorn says his team hasn’t relied too much on the set-up that earned them the pole last year.

“We’ve found some speed and we’re looking to find some more,” Thorn said. “We had good speed last year but our race stuff was off so we’ve worked on that throughout the season, on the west coast, with (crew chief) Mike Keen and (owner) Byron (Campbell) giving us everything we need.

“It’s just refreshing to show up with a good group of quality guys like this and still be as fast as we are.”

Kaden Honeycutt led the second practice session driving for Donnie Wilson Motorsports with a paint scheme that pays tribute to his late friend Jackson Bates.

“This is how we wanted to start the week off,” Honeycutt told SpeedSport. “We’re really happy with our car right now and we think we can stay in the mix; we just have to keep adjusting with the racetrack as we progress through the week. But I’m really happy right now.”

Stephen Nasse was third quick overall with Ty Majeski and Hunter Robbins completing the top-five.

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“We’re taking a different approach this year,” Majeski said. “We have the same package as last year. We’ve refined it over the past year or so. We’re working on Q trim, where we usually put all of our focus on race trim.

“There’s a lot on the line in qualifying this year and we’re going after it.”

Majeski is referring to a series of bonuses if the pole winner can also take home the Tom Dawson Trophy.

Between the Phoenix Construction Back to Front Challenge and the Pit Pay Pole Challenge, this year’s Snowball Derby winner could take home $55,000. The race pays $25,000 to win, while the Pit Pay Pole Challenge offers $5,000 to win from the pole.  The Back to Front Challenge adds another $25,000 if the fast qualifier elects to start from the rear of the field and wins the race.

“You’d be crazy not to take it,” Majeski said of the Back to the Front Challenge. “Obviously, it’s going to be incredibly hard to set fast time against this field.

“Everything has to go your way. There are so many variables in qualifying. All we can do is get the car as close as we can and for me to do the best job I can, and hopefully the stars align.”

NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott howed decent speed throughout the day finishing the three sessions in ninth. 32nd and 12th.

“We’re just trying to learn some things that have changed with a new car,” Elliott said. “I’ve said this has been a blast from the past for me, and I’m still trying to learn what this car needs, and I don’t know what we’re looking for right now.”

Kyle Busch, the 2015 and 2019 Cup Series champion, dealt with electrical issues in the second session and was outside the top-10 in all three rounds of practice.

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Opening Day was marred by two incidents. Bob Lyon crashed on the frontstretch in the 15th minute of the opening session. That same session ended with Michael House backing into the wall in Turn 3. Neither driver has a backup car and has withdrawn from the event.

That leaves 53 cars for 30 guaranteed spots in Friday time trials. There are also two provisional starting spots for the highest ranked drivers in both the Southern Super Series and Blizzard Series championship standing who doesn’t qualify in on time.

Defending winner Travis Braden will also get a guaranteed spot should he need one.

The remaining drivers who fail to qualify in on time will be sent to a 50 lap last chance race on Saturday afternoon to determine the 36 or 37 car starting lineup for Sunday’s main event.

SNOWBALL DERBY PRACTICE 3

  1. Derek Thorn 16.414
  2. Kaden Honeycutt 16.461
  3. Stephen Nasse 16.490
  4. Ty Majeski 16.503
  5. Hunter Robbins 16.567
  6. Matt Craig 16.577
  7. Chandler Smith 16.590
  8. Casey Roderick 16.605
  9. Preston Peltier 16.622
  10. Sammy Smith 16.624
  11. Cole Butcher 16.662
  12. Chase Elliott 16.663
  13. Bubba Pollard 16.668
  14. Boris Jurkovic 16.671
  15. Jake Garcia 16.685
  16. Ross Kenseth 16.691
  17. Grant Enfinger 16.694
  18. Chris Davidson 16.696
  19. Dan Fredrickson 16.703
  20. Michael Atwell 16.724
  21. Carson Hocevar 16.720
  22. Austin Nason 16.726
  23. Noah Gragson 16.729
  24. Corey Heim 16.729
  25. Cayden Lapcevich 16.734
  26. Derek Griffith 16.739
  27. Connor Okrzesik 16.752
  28. Jeremy Pate 16.760
  29. Dalton Zehr 16.767
  30. Jesse Dutilly 16.770
  31. Augie Grill 16.777
  32. Daniel Dye 16.782
  33. Travis Braden 16.784
  34. Kodie Conner 16.785
  35. Kyle Sieg 16.791
  36. Hudson Halder 16.800
  37. Logan Boyett 16.808
  38. Casey Johnson 16.825
  39. Justin T. Johnson 16.830
  40. Derek Kraus 16.841
  41. Kyle Busch 16.858
  42. Jeremy Doss 16.863
  43. Gabe Sommers 16.908
  44. John DeAngelis 16.947
  45. Mason Diaz 16.971
  46. Kason Plott 17.007
  47. Paul Shafer, Jr. 17.029
  48. Kyle Bryant 17.053
  49. Perry Patino 17.056
  50. Kyle Plott 17.079
  51. Kyle McCallum 17.086
  52. Ryan Crane 17.140
  53. Colten Nelson 17.375

SNOWBALL DERBY PRACTICE 2

  1. Kaden Honeycutt 16.601
  2. Ty Majeski 16.631
  3. Casey Roderick 16.644
  4. Austin Nason 16.672
  5. Derek Thorn 16.679
  6. Bubba Pollard 16.708
  7. Grant Enfinger 16.719
  8. Michael Atwell 16.739
  9. Justin T. Johnson 16.749
  10. Casey Johnson 16.750
  11. Dan Fredrickson 16.757
  12. Daniel Dye 16.760
  13. Boris Jurkovic 16.762
  14. Kyle McCallum 16.763
  15. Derek Griffith 16.774
  16. John DeAngelis 16.778
  17. Dalton Zehr 16.793
  18. Hunter Robbins 16.796
  19. Jake Garcia 16.802
  20. Connor Okrzesik 16.802
  21. Logan Boyett 16.825
  22. Ross Kenseth 16.825
  23. Preston Peltier 16.828
  24. Stephen Nasse 16.833
  25. Sammy Smith 16.844
  26. Corey Heim 16.847
  27. Kyle Busch 16.848
  28. Derek Kraus 16.851
  29. Kyle Plott 16.854
  30. Carson Hocevar 16.857
  31. Jeremy Pate 16.881
  32. Mason Diaz 16.882
  33. Chase Elliott 16.889
  34. Kason Plott 16.889
  35. Jesse Dutilly 16.896
  36. Perry Patino 16.907
  37. Travis Braden 16.927
  38. Chandler Smith 16.949
  39. Matt Craig 16.951
  40. Cayden Lapcevich 16.953
  41. Paul Shafer, Jr. 16.966
  42. Kyle Sieg 16.974
  43. Gabe Sommers 16.974
  44. Cole Butcher 16.991
  45. Jeremy Doss 17.039
  46. Chris Davidson 17.045
  47. Noah Gragson 17.065
  48. Kodie Conner 17.085
  49. Augie Grill 17.111
  50. Kyle Bryant 17.207
  51. Ryan Crane 17.398
  52. Colten Nelson 17.861

SNOWBALL DERBY PRACTICE 1

  1. Derek Thorn 16.498
  2. Hunter Robbins 16.565
  3. Derek Kraus 16.579
  4. Casey Roderick 16.605
  5. Preston Peltier 16.606
  6. Chandler Smith 16.609
  7. Boris Jurkovic 16.619
  8. Connor Okrzesik 16.622
  9. Chase Elliott 16.624
  10. Jesse Dutilly 16.630
  11. Kaden Honeycutt 16.643
  12. Ty Majeski 16.647
  13. Michael House 16.688
  14. Kyle Busch 16.695
  15. Corey Heim 16.706
  16. Hudson Halder 16.716
  17. Austin Nason 16.725
  18. Daniel Dye 16.743
  19. Kyle Plott 16.747
  20. Stephen Nasse 16.750
  21. John DeAngelis 16.751
  22. Jake Garcia 16.752
  23. Dan Fredrickson 16.754
  24. Bubba Pollard 16.755
  25. Grant Enfinger 16.756
  26. Ross Kenseth 16.760
  27. Michael Atwell 16.762
  28. Cole Butcher 16.772
  29. Derek Griffith 16.785
  30. Kyle McCallum 16.787
  31. Noah Gragson 16.790
  32. Dalton Zehr 16.796
  33. Matt Craig 16.802
  34. Chris Davidson 16.805
  35. Kodie Conner 16.814
  36. Paul Shafer, Jr. 16.816
  37. Jeremy Pate 16.819
  38. Logan Boyett 16.819
  39. Carson Hocevar 16.830
  40. Augie Grill 16.833
  41. Kason Plott 16.834
  42. Sammy Smith 16.844
  43. Kyle Sieg 16.846
  44. Cayden Lapcevich 16.851
  45. Mason Diaz 16.878
  46. Jeremy Doss 16.882
  47. Justin T. Johnson 16.922
  48. Gabe Sommers 16.958
  49. Casey Johnson 16.961
  50. Travis Braden 16.981
  51. Kyle Bryant 17.001
  52. Perry Patino 17.027
  53. Ryan Crane 17.235

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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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