The qualifying procedure for the Snowball Derby is both unique and elaborate. Like NASCAR’s Daytona 500, some teams will even have to race their way into Sunday’s starting lineup. A total of 66 cars will attempt to make the field on Friday night but only 37 cars will start Sunday's Super Bowl of Short Track Late Model racing.
Each driver will be given two timed laps with the 30 quickest times automatically qualifying for the race. Qualifying order was determined by a blind draw on Wednesday night and any team missing their turn can qualify no higher than 11th.
Those outside of the top-30 will be entered into Saturday night’s 50-lap last chance race with the top-four finishers transferring into the field of 37. The final three spots are reserved for a past winner of the Snowball Derby and the two highest non-qualifying drivers from Five Flag Speedway’s regular season championship.
This ensures that everyone in the field is a proven winner and is capable of capturing the Tom Dawson trophy on Sunday afternoon.
Chase Elliott, Bubba Pollard and Augie Grill are the only three drivers guaranteed a starting spot based on their provisional status. They are locked-in to the Derby regardless of what happens on Friday night. Should they qualify on time, those spots will be offered to the next most recent Derby champion and third place in the Blizzard standings and so forth.
The pole-sitter for the Snowball Derby will also be crowned on Friday night, a prestigious honor on its own merit. But in addition to setting fast time and the chance to lead the field to green on Sunday, the fastest qualifier will also receive a $1,000 bonus – a sizeable check for two laps worth of work in a Super Late Model.
“Snowball Derby Pole Night is one of the most intense few hours in short track racing,” Five Flags Speedway Track Promoter Tim Bryant said. “We received over 60 entries for the Snowball Derby and only 37 of them will make the feature -- everyone else will have to go home. So qualifying for this event is awfully dramatic and will keep everyone on the edge of their seat.
It is a complex procedure but it is a part of what makes the Snowball Derby stand out on the motorsports schedule. Pole qualifying begins at approximately 6:00 p.m. when Elliott Massey is expected to be the first driver to turn laps.
Friday Track Schedule (All times Central Standard Time):
10 a.m.: Snowball and Snowflake practice
11 a.m.: Super stock practice
11:45 a.m.: Modified practice
1 p.m.: Snowball practice
2 p.m.: Snowflake practice
3 p.m.: Super stock and modified qualifying
6 p.m.: Snowball Derby qualifying
8 p.m.: Super stock and modified races