Kyle Busch doesn’t believe in an offseason. Sure, he wants a few weeks to unwind after the New Year and just before preseason testing. But his season is going to last a lot longer than Homestead-Miami in two weeks.
That’s because Busch has filed an entry for the Snowball Derby Super Late Model race, to be held on Dec. 2 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. Busch will return to the race for the first time since winning it in 2009 and brings with him two prior Late Model victories this season, capturing wins at Watermelon Capital and Berlin Speedway.
And yet no Super Late Model season is complete without a Snowball Derby victory, and Busch will always make room on his trophy case for a second Tom Dawson Memorial trophy.
"We are very excited to get back to Pensacola to run the Snowball Derby," Busch said in a press release. "The last time we were down there it was special. I am a big fan of short track racing and the Snowball Derby is the best of the best in Super Late Model racing."
He joins fellow NASCAR drivers Aric Almirola, David Ragan and Landon Cassill as nationally recognized names currently entered into the race that some have called the "Super Bowl of Short Track Late Model Racing."
You could include Nationwide Series breakout prospect and Pensacola native Johanna Long on that list, but she’s a Super Late Model veteran, having won the race in 2010 and grew up winning countless races at Five Flags.
"I will always consider myself a Late Model driver because it's where I started; it's my roots," Long said. "I love racing Late Models during my off-weekends, and I plan on going back home to Pensacola to race in the Snowball Derby for many years to come.
"There's no other race like it. It's intense short track racing at its finest. It truly is one of the best races in the country."
Almirola grew up in Florida hearing stories about the legendary race and is finally making his Derby debut this winter, driving for veteran car owner Richie Wauters. Almirola first connected with Wauters in July for a race at the Milwaukee Mile and the duo have been itching to work together ever since. Wauters won the Snowball Derby in 2004 with driver Steve Wallace.
"Any time you get into a racing machine prepared by Richie, you know it’s going to be done right," Almirola said. "It doesn’t matter if it’s a Late Model or a truck; it’s going to have the best in it. That’s why it’s always so much fun to race with Richie. He’s a true racer with only one goal. We just have a good rapport and I feel that we can win any race."
The current entry list contains over 60 of the best stock car drivers in the country. Other notables include occasional Truck Series driver Erik Darnell, K&N Pro Series driver Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth's son Ross and Stephen Wallace.
The updated entry list has been provided below:
Chuck Barnes Jr.
John Hunter Nemechek