It's the most exciting qualifying session in pavement Super Late Model racing, and arguably one of the most tense nights in all of short track racing. Country Pleasin' Pole Night at Five Flags Speedway sets the first 30 spots in the field for the Snowball Derby, with all eyes on who will lead the field to green, who will make the show and who will be relegated to Saturday's Last Chance Qualifier.
Here are some numbers of note entering qualifying night for the 54th Annual Snowball Derby presented by Hooters.
3: Derek Thorn will go for a record as he looks to become the first driver to win the pole three years in a row. In the past, three other drivers have had a chance to win three straight poles. Mike Alexander timed in third after back-to-back poles in 1984 and 1985. Pete Hamilton put his car on the outside of the front row after he was on top in 1973 and 1974. Hamilton missed the top spot by almost two tenths of a second. Eddie Mercer also had a shot in the 90’s but came in 13th in time trials.
4: Eddie Mercer holds the record for most poles at the Snowball Derby.
6 p.m.: It’s the zero hour, Snowball Derby qualifying goes green at or shortly after 6 p.m. Central once the sun goes down. The tension on pit road will be tense as the drivers on hand risk it all in the most important night and two laps of their season.
8: The race has been won from the pole eight times, but not since Eddie Mercer in 2005.
13: The race has been won from the front row 13 times. Chase Elliott was the most recent in 2015.
16.120: The Snowball Derby track record is held by Ty Majeski, who fired off that lap in 2015. With the new stretch of asphalt on the old surface it could help aid a new track record. Preston Peltier ran a lap under the track record in daylight a few days before the Derby.
16.327: We spoke about the track record in 2015, that year the track was lightning fast and the bump time was also a record at 16.327. Last year, the bump time was 16.509. The average gap will be about two to three tenths between the pole and 30th.
30: The top 30 drivers will lock into the field on time trials.
33: The race has been won from the top 10 starting positions on 33 occasions.
35: Jake Garcia in the 35 ride is the Blizzard Series Champion and will be locked into the show if he can’t make it in on time. The provisional spot could go to any driver in the top 10 of Blizzard points if the drivers ahead of them make the show. The same will apply for the Southern Super Series champion, who also happens to be Jake Garcia. All eyes will be on the points sheet after time trials.
53: There were 53 drivers who took time in 2020.