Five Flags Speedway

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12/6/2014

12/6/2014

Five Flags Speedway


Morris Makes Last-Lap Dash Stick, Hamrac Goes Back-to-Back as Snowballs Continue to Fly

Winners_art_FridayRevBy Chuck Corder

“Boogity! Boogity! Boogity!�

“You pay for the whole seat, but only need the edge.�

The sport of stock car racing is notorious for adopting its own language. It has given us memorable catch phrases and adages.

Another classic, “It’s not how many laps you lead, but what lap you lead� proved true during the Faith Chapel Super Stocks Snowball Derby, as the 47th running continued Friday at Five Flags Speedway.

Brandon Morris of Mulberry made his first win at the famed half-mile asphalt oval memorable, capturing the Super Stocks Snowball while only leading the 50th and final lap against the 20-car field.

“It feels amazing,� he said. “I’ve never won at this track before. I tried to save my tires best I could. Lapped traffic worked back in my favor. But it was a helluva race.�

Morris stalked pole sitter and race leader Patrick Thomas all night. Thomas, the Oviedo driver who led every lap from the drop of the green flag, was able to thwart Morris’ advances for much of the night until the white flag came waving out.

As the leaders tried to navigate lapped traffic, Morris darted to the bottom of the racetrack while Thomas was caught in no-man’s land.

Thomas was in the middle of the groove, trapped behind two lapped cars.

Morris took advantage, speeding to the lead and never looking back. Thomas came home second and 1978 Snowball champion Dave Mader III, rounded out the podium.

“We’ve been coming here since 1993,� said Thomas, who was in good spirits considering his heartbreaking finish. “Man, I couldn’t think of a better place to race at.

“I’ve never been this tired in a racecar before. We’ll be back next year.�

Pensacola driver Bubba Winslow finished fourth.

Morris, who started second, never let Thomas out of his sight. He stayed within a few car lengths, mostly on Thomas’ bumper, and took several peeks at the lead.

Morris repeatedly tried to banzai his way underneath Thomas to steal the P1 spot, but ultimately needed the assistance of lapped traffic to get the lead he so desperately craved.

 

Home Depot Modifieds

After frantically trying for many years, Donnie Hamrac, more than most, understands the gravity of winning a local class Snowball Derby.

The Semmes, Ala., driver fulfilled a lifetime dream last December when he snagged his first career Home Depot Modifieds Snowball title.

At the 47th running of the Snowball on Friday night at Five Flags Speedway, Hamrac showed 2013 was no fluke.

He withstood several lengthy cautions and a 34-car field en route to back-to-back Snowball Modifieds titles.

Brian Nester, the Hamilon, Ind., driver who won this same Snowball event in 2011, finished runner-up and Ohioan Kyle Purvis rounded out the podium.

“Just win two of ’em (Snowballs) in a lifetime, period, is awesome,� Hamrac said. “But two in a row? That just says what kinda team we have. We have an awesome team.�

Hamrac and his team celebrated on the front stretch following the checkered flag.

Hamrac in his blue No. 8, which did a series of burnouts and donuts right in front of the grandstands. His team with hoots and hollers echoing through the speedway speakers.

Hamrac passed pole sitter Jim Wall of Madison, Ala., early on and never relinquished it the rest of the way.

“On the restart, we knew we had to get around Jim Wall,� Hamrac said. “We were able to get around him and set the pace. Luckily, we set the pace the whole race. It played in my favor.�

But it certainly wasn’t easy pickings.

There were plenty of multi-car incidents that drew the caution, bad enough on several occasions that the red flag needed to be brought out.

The jam-packed field couldn’t even log one completed lap before a 10-car pileup was dusting up in Turn 4.

On Lap 26, 2012 Modifieds Snowball champion Billy Melvin was running third when J.C. Umscheid turned Melvin, inexplicably.

Few knew whether the move was intentional, but, regardless, Melvin was hot.

“You don’t want to talk to me right now,� he told an in-pit reporter moments after climbing out of his car. “But I am going to have a conversation about how stupid he is.�

Hamrac’s biggest threat came from Texan Joe Aramendia, whose No. 79 ran second for much of the race following the halfway mark.

Aramendia seemed to be a few ticks faster than Hamrac in the waning stages. But Aramendia’s night was spoiled when he and Nester collided in a battle for second with three laps remaining.

Hamrac was happy to watch all of it from his rearview mirror.

“I was just hoping for a clean restart,� he said. “Cautions give me the time to cool my tires down.�

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