PENSACOLA, Fla. -- 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 62 cars are posted to make qualifying laps on Friday night but only 37 of them 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. Any driver that misses his or her turn in line can start no better 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 highest non-qualifying driver from Five Flag Speedway's regular season and the Southern Super Series championship respectively.
This ensures that everyone in the field is a proven winner and is capable of capturing the Tom Dawson Memorial trophy on Sunday afternoon.
Erik Jones, Bubba Pollard and Daniel Hemric 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, their provisionals will be offered to the next most recent Derby champion and second place in the Blizzard/Southern Super Series 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.
"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 receive a fantastic number of entries every year and only 37 of them make the race, sending everyone else 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's a part of what makes the Snowball Derby stand out on the motorsports calendar. Pole qualifying begins at approximately 6:00 p.m. CST when Hemric is expected to be the first driver to turn his laps.
Continuing coverage of the Snowball Derby can be found on the Ranting and Raving short track blog. Visit our Facebook page for all the updates and links to our stories leading up to the Super Bowl of Short Track Racing.
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