Amid a Myriad of Yellows, Heil Hammers Down Outlaws Victory at 52nd Annual Snowball Derby

Amid a Myriad of Yellows, Heil Hammers Down Outlaws Victory at 52nd Annual Snowball Derby

 

By Chuck Corder

The Saturday of Snowball Derby weekend is always a marathon at Five Flags Speedway.

There are practices, qualifying runs, last-chance races and feature races. What more could a racing fan’s heart desire?

In recent years, though, like clock, one of those events refuses to end. There are always extenuating factors, of course, usually involving rain or cautions.

For the Outlaws running at the 52nd annual Snowball Derby on Saturday, it was the latter.

While Texas driver John Heil drove a masterful race to capture both his first career Derby and first win at Pensacola’s high banks, the 50 lapper was marred by nearly 10 cautions. Thirty-two Faith Chapel Outlaws took the green, but there were only 14 remaining when the checkered flag flew.

“I hate to see all these good cars tore up,” runner-up Joe Bethea Jr. said. “I know people put time and effort into it. Hate to see that. I put my guys behind the eight-ball in qualifying. We had a good racecar, and to finish second is pretty good.”

On the field’s fourth restart with 34 laps completed, Heil passed then-leader Bubba Winslow as they headed into Turn No. 2 from the outside lane.

He hit his marks on every restart and never relinquished the lead in the final 16 laps.

“This is the best thing I’ve ever done,” Heil said. “It’s not the Snowball Derby, but it’s the closest I’ll ever get to it.”

Pensacola’s Kody Brusso, who won the Outlaws track title in 2018 at Five Flags, rounded out the podium in third. With her father celebrating a birthday, she was hoping to tie a bow on a victory for him.

“He’ll have to settle for third and a clean racecar,” Brusso said only half-jokingly. “Our battle marks on the car show. We stuck it in there a couple of times, but I race everybody clean to my best ability.”

 

 

 order of finish:

 

1 96H John Heil
2 33 Joe Bethea Jr
3 7B Kody Brusso
4 92 Cameron Henderson
5 03 George Gorham
6 1 Donald Crocker
7 9D Brooke Storer
8 93 Paul Jean
9 21H David Hodges
10 16 Bubba Winslow
11 23 Gary Goodwin
12 5C Chase Oliver
13 407 Jason Vail
14 00 Jeff Belt
15 40 Stephen Nasse
16 31 Wayne Niedecken
17 151 Gary Sutton
18 26 Corbitt Moseley
19 3C Casey Caudill
20 32 Stuart Dutton
21 91 Chris Cotto
22 96D Greg Davidson
23 71 Jody Henderson
24 4J Todd Jones
25 21F Jason Furrow
26 6 Nathan Henderson
27 21W Jason Welch
28 84 Doug Thorp Jr
29 8B Justin Beck
30 10 Patrick Thomas
31 51F Jake Finch
32 54 Connor Sutton