Snowball Derby festivities began last night with the annual kick-off party at the Beef 'O' Brady's restaurant in Pensacola, Fla. The drivers in attendance included Johanna Long, Jeff Choquette and Mike Garvey amongst others.
The guest list also included Five Flags Speedway track promoter Tim Bryant, who took time to answer some questions as well as offer a prediction for Sunday’s 45th Annual Snowball Derby. It took a little bit of pressure but Bryant ultimately settled on predicting that Ross Kenseth would be the next of winner of his track’s biggest race.
In the same vein that former Charlotte Motor Speedway track president Humpy Wheeler used to predict the outcome of NASCAR's All-Star Race, Tim Bryant was methodical in his reasoning for selecting Kenseth -- the son of 2003 Sprint Cup Series champion, Matt.
"With no disrespect to the NASCAR guys, I think a short track regular is going to win this race," Bryant said. "The NASCAR guys are the best at what they do but this race is just so hard to win, even harder than NASCAR races. So I think this race is going to benefit someone who spends a lot of time on these tracks and in these cars.
"I also think we'll see a first time winner. So if I had to put those two factors together, I'd come up with Ross, especially after the season he's put together."
Bryant was referencing his two premier Super Late Model victories in the All-American 400 and Winchester 400 -- two of the Grand Slam Events of Super Late Model Racing, which also includes the World Crown 300 and Snowball Derby.
Kenseth has a strong track record at Five Flags Speedway, as he finished third to Chase Elliott and DJ VanderLey in last year’s event.
Kenseth also looked strong in his last Super Late Model start, finishing second to Jay Fogleman at Caraway Speedway in North Carolina. The Wisconsin-native is looking to bookend his 2012 Super Late Model season with a milestone victory and possible transition to NASCAR where he's been linked to several Truck Series teams, including one at Kyle Busch Motorsports.
"Ross is one of the elite drivers in Super Late Model racing and I think he’s going to prove it with a big win on Sunday afternoon," Bryant said.