Snowball Derby 2013: Staff Predictions

Matt Weaver

The following Snowball Derby predictions are complete guesses and just for fun.

The suddenly veteran Bubba Pollard will drive to the biggest win of his career on Sunday afternoon, winning the 46th Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla.

The Derby is perhaps the most challenging race to predict in all of motorsports. For one, there are over 60 entries for 37 starting spots. And beyond Pollard, Daniel Hemric and Erik Jones who are locked-in based on event provisional positions, I don't even know who is going to make the race on Sunday.

But recent history suggests that four names will be near the front in the closing laps of the race -- Pollard, Jones, Chase Elliott and TJ Reaid. That will be the case on Sunday too.

I would include Hemric, Augie Grill and Kyle Benjamin on that list but I predict that the battle of attrition will bite each of them over the course of 300 laps.

So on a restart with 14 laps to go, it will come down to Jones, Elliott, Reaid and Pollard all on equally fresh tires. And like the Winchester 400, Jones and Elliott will duel for short track supremacy.

But unlike in Indiana, someone will goof and the two will make contact, taking both drivers out of contention. Both NASCAR prospects will gather it back up without forcing a caution but the lost track position will be too much overcome.

In the aftermath, both Reaid and Pollard will escape with the top two positions on the track and the final five laps will come down to a pair of Georgia-natives. The finish will come down to experience with Pollard stalking Reaid and making his move with two to go.

Pollard will successfully employ the bump and run and take the lead with Elliott following in his tire tracks. With Pollard pulling away, the only battle on the last lap will be for second and the No. 26 Jegs Machne will surge towards its first victory in the Snowball Derby.

Just don't tell him I said so -- drivers are often superstitious.

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Two other SB Nation staffers made predictions on Thursday night as Aaron Creed and Alanis King deposited their best guess. Their responses can be viewed below:

Alanis King picks Augie Grill

Seeing as the Snowball Derby field is so competitive -- and diverse -- picking a winner is about as easy as putting together a perfect March Madness bracket.

But my bet to take home this year's trophy is the No. 112 of Augie Grill. The Hayden, Ala. native managed to win three Southern Super Series races this season in just 10 starts -- that number would have been four had he not been disqualified at the series' second trip to Five Flags Speedway this season.

He also picked up two SLM wins at New Smyrna Speedway, one being in the Governor's Cup 200. On the Snowball Derby front, Grill is one of two drivers to ever record back-to-back wins in the race (2007, 2008), and I predict that he'll take a third trip to Snowball Derby Victory Lane this weekend.

Aaron Creed picks Kyle Benjamin

In my quest to go 3-for-3 in major Super Late Model event picks (having correctly picked the Winchester 400 and All American 400 winners), I'm going out on a limb and picking Kyle Benjamin to win the Snowball Derby.

It's probably not too far out there, but looking at his Winchester and Nashville results, it may not appear that he is a favorite.

I think their troubles are in the past, and it's no secret that he has Five Flags Speedway figured out, winning the Southern Super Series event there in July. This is the race that the team puts it all together and everything goes right for the Carolinian youngster.

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.

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