Since his first starts in the Southern All-Stars Series in the late 1990's, Allen Karnes has been a fixture in southeast Super Late Model racing. However, despite a few top fives in the Gulf Coast Championship Series and the defunct NASCAR Southeast Series Karnes has yet to qualify for the Snowball Derby.
Throughout the practice sessions on Thursday and Friday, the team has been working hard to get the AK47 numbered car where it needs to be for the 6p.m. qualifying session.
"Balance of the car is not quite there yet," Karnes said. "The track doesn't have the grip it had three months ago and we're having trouble with it, and we still need to get it to turn in the middle of the corner."
Due to his performance and perfect attendance at this season's Southern Super Series and Blizzard Series races, Karnes does have a possible provisional to fall back on. However, with the large amount of competitors and past history of how tough it is to make the field Karnes would like to get into Sunday's race on Friday evening.
"I don't want to rely on a provisional," stated Karnes. "I really need to get out there and get in on speed, and that's what we're shooting for. We'll try to make a qualifying run the last hour (of practice)."
At the All-American 400, Karnes had the assistance from one of this era's finest, Jeff Fultz.
"Jeff Fultz is a good buddy of mine. We used to race the All Pro Series a lot together," recalled Karnes. "He came up to Nashville with me and we ran really well. I had a medical issue and had to get out of the car, otherwise I think we would've had a top five in that race. We were really good."
Fultz will not be helping at the Derby, as he has come out of a semi-retirement with his own effort after finishing fourth in this race last year. Nevertheless, his expertise has definitely helped Karnes coming into this weekend.
"He's really knowledgeable with the chassis. Runs the same chassis as I do, and actually he's one of the best guys on a Hamke chassis out there so it can do nothing but help," added Karnes.
No matter how he potentially makes the 37-car starting field, it would certainly be special to him to be a part of the Sunday morning "class picture" and be able to compete in the 300 lap race.
"It would be really important. It's the biggest race of my career. It would mean a lot because it's a big race with a lot of talented race car drivers."
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