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Countdown to the Derby from the Pensacola journal


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These have been going on for 12 days now. The news Journal here does an outstanding job with the Derby. I thought some of you might enjoy these. I'll try to put new ones on here as they come out daily.

 

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18 days till the Derby

 

November 17, 2004

FAST FACT: Gary Balough, known as "Hot Shoe" Balough, finished a dominating season with a victory in the 1986 Snowball Derby. The race was the season-ender of the All Pro Super Series, which Balough won in easy fashion, winning nine races, all from the pole position. He sat on the pole for the Snowball Derby and dominated, leading seven times for 131 laps.

 

· The 37th Snowball Derby will be run at Pensacola's Five Flags Speedway on Dec. 5. To reserve tickets or get more information, call (850) 944-8400 or go to: www.snowballderby.com

©The Pensacola News Journal

November 17, 2004

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Countdown to The Derby: 17 Days - November 18, 2004

Fast Fact: Former NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace had numerous chances to win the Snowball Derby, but always came up short. In nine appearances, he had four top-10 finishes. He was second in 1979, sixth in '83, third in '84 and second in '85, his final Snowball Derby race. Wallace was the polesitter for the 1982 race. He won his first Winston Cup race in 1986.

The 37th Snowball Derby will be run at Pensacola's Five Flags Speedway on Dec. 5. To reserve tickets or get more information, call (850) 944-8400

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Countdown to the Derby : 15 days

 

FAST FACT: Matt Kenseth, the defending NASCAR champion, made two attempts to win the Snowball Derby before heading on to NASCAR success. He finished 40th in 1995 at Five Flags Speedway and came back in 1996, where he finished 16th. Just four years later, he was the NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year.

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Countdown to the Derby: 14 days - November 21, 2004

FAST FACT:The 1988 Snowball Derby is remembered not as much for the winner, Ted Musgrave, but for the crash that practically ended the racing career of another. Mike Alexander was seriously injured when his car spun coming out of Turn 4 and hit a dirt mound protecting the grandstands. Alexander remained in the hospital for several days with a severe concussion and broken collarbone. He made several attempts to return to racing before retiring.

 

The 37th Snowball Derby will be run at Pensacola's Five Flags Speedway on Dec. 5. To reserve tickets or get more information, call (850) 944-8400. ©The Pensacola News Journal November 21, 2004

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Countdown to the Derby: 13 days

 

Jeff Purvis was the bridesmaid at the Snowball Derby more than he wanted to count.Going into the 1995 race,he had finished second in three of the last four races.But this time,he led 201 laps-driving an Eddie mercer car-to finally grab the trophy.Only three other drivers were on the lead lap at the end.

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Countdown to the Derby: 12 days

 

Fast Fact: One of the tragic stories of the Snowball Derby is 1984 champion Butch Lindley.He became the first driver to win the event driving a V-6 powered car.But early in the 1985 season,he crashed in a race in Bradenton,FL suffered head injuries and went into a coma.His close friend Jody Ridley,won the 1985 Derby and dedicated the race to him.He died in 1990 still in a coma.

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Here are some of the other topics from the "countdown "not in any particular order:

 

Pensacola's Wayne Niedecken Sr. won the first Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in 1968. He became the first two-time winner when he win the third event in 1970. Niedecken raced in eight Snowball Derbys, the last in 1975.

 

Just like an election, Ed Howe of Beavertown, Mich., survived two protests to win the fifth Snowball Derby in 1972. It took two hours after the race finished for officials to declare the pole sitter the winner. Buck Simmons of Marietta, Ga., was leading with 10 laps left when he thought he had a one-lap lead, slowed to conserve fuel and was passed by Howe and Darrell Waltrip. Bobby Allison, the NASCAR driver of the year that season, failed to qualify, but drove in the race as a replacement driver for Robert Hamke.

 

Pensacola's Eddie Mercer shares the Snowball Derby record for most pole positions with Bobby Gill. Each have three. Mercer's first pole came in 1989 and he was the fastest qualifier in 1996 and '97. Gill was the polesitter in 1990, '94 and '98. The last polesitter to win the Snowball Derby was Butch Miller in 1987.

 

Mark Martin was one of the numerous future NASCAR drivers who tried, but failed to win the Snowball Derby. He was the polesitter for the 16th running of the event in 1983, but finished 12th behind winner Mickey Gibbs. Martin finished second in 1978 and finished fifth in 1980 when his car fell of the jack during a late-race pit stop.

 

The 1973 Snowball Derby race was filled with charges of cheating. thingyie Davis' victory was protested because he went the full 200 laps without pitting for fuel. But officials checked his tank and found it to be the required 22-gallon size, upholding his victory. Before the race, officials said the engine in the car of polesitter Pete Hamilton had been moved forward overnight and made his crew put the engine farther back. He finished well back in the field.

 

The 1982 Snowball Derby would well go down as the longest day in Snowball Derby history. It was the first Snowball Derby to be run at night. Heavy rains washed out all of the previous day's qualifying and crowded the two-day event into a daylong marathon of racing. Gene Morgan of Traveler's Rest, S.C., passed Rusty Wallace for the lead and went on to win, holding off defending champion Freddy Fryar. Of note, Noreen Mears was the first woman driver to attempt to make the race, but didn't qualify.

 

Red Farmer holds the Snowball Derby record for most consecutive starts. He raced in the first 32 Snowball Derbys, the last in 1999. He sat on the pole for the first race in 1968 and his best finish was second behind Butch Miller in 1987. Jody Ridley raced in 27 Snowball Derbys.

 

An Allison won a Snowball Derby title, but it wasn't Bobby or his son, Davey. Donnie Allison won the eighth Snowball Derby in 1975. Donnie led the final 44 laps, while brother Bobby led the first 156 laps. thingyie Davis finished second, while Darrell Waltrip was third and Neil Bonnett fifth.

 

Three drivers claimed they won the ninth Snowball Derby in 1976 but only one -- Darrell Waltrip -- was credited with the victory. Race officials confirmed later that evening that Waltrip was the winner. Both Harry Gant and Freddy Fryer claimed they were the winners, saying the others were a lap down. "I know I passed (Gant) at least once," Waltrip said, "because I hit him." Waltrip's mechanic for that race: Dale Earnhardt.

 

Darrell Waltrip survived a protest in 1976, but not the next year. Waltrip celebrated what appeared to be the Snowball Derby's first back-to-back winner in 1977. But more than six hours after the race -- with Waltrip and the trophy already headed back to Tennessee -- race officials determined that Waltrip lost a lap in the pits, and Ronnie Sanders was declared the winner. Waltrip still has the trophy.

 

Many drivers tried to win the Snowball Derby before moving on to great success in NASCAR's Winston Cup. Dale Earnhardt's sole attempt came in 1977, the year after he helped Darrell Waltrip win the race. He finished 36th. Two years later, he was the NASCAR Rookie of the Year. Here's a list of other NASCAR drivers and their attempts in the Snowball Derby: Buck Baker 34th in 1977; Bill Elliott 32nd in 1982, 34th in 1981; Terry Labonte 35th in 1983; Sterling Marlin 31st in 1983; Bobby Hamilton 18th in 1986; Kenny Wallace 20th in 1986, 29th in 1987; Ernie Irvan 15th in 1988; Bobby Labonte 23rd in 1988; Johnny Benson 39th in 1992; Ken Schrader 4th in 1992; Kyle Petty 35th in 1998.

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Countdown to the Derby: 11 days - November 24, 2004

FAST FACT: Tammy Jo Kirk stunned the short-track racing world when she won the 1994 Snowball Derby. She took over the lead two laps from the finish when leader Wayne Willard and Jeff Purvis spun out. After the caution, she held off Eddie Mercer in the final sprint to win. She drove the final 150 laps with the face shield on her helmet up because it was tinted for the sun, but the last half of the race was run under the lights.

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Countdown to the Derby

November 25, 2004

Countdown to the Derby

 

FAST FACT: Bobby Gill didn't like Five Flags Speedway when he first started racing. But he grew to like it, dominating many races there in the late 1980s and '90s. He won his first Snowball Derby in 1993, passing Butch Miller 19 laps from the finish. The race was slowed by a then race-record 22 caution periods for 130 laps. Gill then won the 1997 race in dominant fashion, leading five times for 158 laps.

 

· The 37th Snowball Derby will be run at Pensacola's Five Flags Speedway on Dec. 5. To reserve tickets or get more information, call (850) 944-8400 or go to: www.snowballderby.com

©The Pensacola News Journal

November 25, 2004

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Countdown to the Derby: 9 Days

 

Fast Fact: Rich Bickle is the winningest driver in Snowball Derby history.He has 5 wins;no other driver has more than 2. He also became the first -and only- driver to win back to back races,and he's done it twice.Bickle started with a victory in 1990,leading the final 68 laps.The next year he held off Jeff Purvis during the final 66 laps for win no.2.In 1996,he drove a Dodge to become the first three time winner.Two years later ,Bickle won his fourth title and followed that with his fifth title in 1999 in one of the most controversial finishes in Snowball Derby history.Read more about that Tomorrow

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Countdown to the Derby: 8 days - November 27, 2004

FAST FACT: The richest payday in Snowball Derby history was on the line for three drivers in 1999. Rich Bickle, Gary St. Amant and Bobby Gill won races at Five Flags earlier in the season to qualify for a $100,000 bonus should one of them win the Snowball Derby.

 

St. Amant was eliminated early in the race in a crash. Gill appeared to win the bonus, crossing the finish line just ahead of Bickle, who bumped Gill into the wall in Turn 2 after the race ended. As tempers flared, Bickle protested that Gill actually was a lap down. It wasn't until after midnight that race officials ruled Gill was a lap down and Bickle was the winner -- and $100,000 richer.

 

· The 37th Snowball Derby will be run at Pensacola's Five Flags Speedway on Dec. 5. To reserve tickets or get more information, call (850) 944-8400 or go to: www.snowballderby.com

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Countdown to the Derby: 7 days - November 28, 2004

FAST FACT: Davey Allison, who died in a helicopter accident, raced five times in the Snowball Derby. His best finish was 15th in 1985. His last race at the track was 1987 when he finished 32nd, while his dad, Bobby, finished 15th. Less than three months later, Bobby won the Daytona 500, while Davey finished second.

The 37th Snowball Derby will be run at Pensacola's Five Flags Speedway on Dec. 5. To reserve tickets or get more information, call (850) 944-8400 or go to: www.snowballderby.com.

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Count down to the Derby: 6 Days

 

Two drivers share the record for most runner-up finishes in the Snowball Derby.

 

Jody Ridley, the 1985 winner, finished second three times, as did 1987 winner Butch Miller. Nine drivers have been the bridesmaid twice -- Jerry Lawley, Freddy Fryar, Dickie Davis, Rusty Wallace, Rick Crawford, Rich Bickle, Jeff Purvis, Eddie Mercer and Gary St. Amant. Of those nine, six have won titles.

 

· The 37th Snowball Derby will be run at Pensacola's Five Flags Speedway on Dec. 5. To reserve tickets or get more information, call (850) 944-8400 or go to: www.snowballderby.com

©The Pensacola News Journal

November 29, 2004

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Countdown to the Derby: 5 days - November 30, 2004

FAST FACT: Jody Ridley, 1985 derby winner, owns the record for most career top-10 Snowball Derby finishes. Ridley finished in the top 10 in 16 of 27 races. Freddy Fryar has 11 top 10s, including 10 in a span of 13 races. Junior Niedecken has 10 top 10s. Five-time winner Rich Bickle has finished in the top 10 in nine of 12 starts, Butch Miller eight of 10, Jeff Purvis seven of 12 and Gary St. Amant six of 10.

The 37th Snowball Derby will be run at Pensacola's Five Flags Speedway on Dec. 5. To reserve tickets or get more information, call (850) 944-8400 or go to: www.snowballderby.com.

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