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12/8/2014

12/8/2014

Five Flags Speedway


John Hunter Nemechek Captures 47th Snowball Derby, Scratches Famous Name into Race’s Lore

Winners_Top_5_Late_Models

By Chuck Corder

John Hunter Nemechek didn’t wake up feeling like a champion Sunday morning.

The 17-year-old son of NASCAR favorite Joe Nemechek arose, stumbling around his hauler on 90 not-so-fresh minutes of sleep.

Just hours earlier, the younger Nemechek had wrapped up a runner-up finish in the Snowflake 100 for Pro Late Models. The race didn’t get over until 4 a.m. Sunday becaue of lengthy rain delays pushed back the Saturday night schedule.

When he shook the cobwebs loose Sunday, John Hunter Nemechek was flat-out sick.

“I was exhausted,� he said. “I puked a few times, and I was losing my voice. I was kinda wishing I didn’t sleep. Without it, I think I would’ve felt just as good.�

No one should keep a delirious schedule.

But, then again, it did work for Nemechek on Sunday. The baby-faced assassin took the lead of the 47th annual Snowball Derby on Lap 286 and withstood another wild finish to hoist the Tom Dawson trophy in Victory Lane.

“It’s an amazing win. I can’t describe it,� John Hunter Nemechek said. “I’m proud we can put the Nemechek name in the history books here of the Snowball Derby. There’s so much history. It’s amazing. It feels amazing. We hope to celebrate big.�

It marks the second consecutive year a 17 year old has kissed the plastic snowball. In the two previous years, a pair of 16 year olds — Chase Elliott and Erik Jones — clutched the gold-plated trophy.

Jones was looking to continue to write his own name all over Snowball lore Sunday by becoming the first driver to win three Snowballs in a row.

He actually led the race with 80 laps to go, his second hard charge Sunday, but Jones spun a lap later and had to eventually settle for a 27th-place finish.

His spin also spelled the demise of reigning NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Chase Elliot, the first rookie to win the series titel.

Elliott, who took the lead from Nemechek earlier in the race at Lap 153, tried to “whoa!� up to avoid hitting Jones. As he did, he was hit from behind and pushed into Jones.

Elliott did return to the track momentarily after suffering heavy front-end damage, but ultimately parked it for a 29th-place finish.

Pensacola’s Johanna Long had a dominant car early, leading the opening 59 laps and staying in the top 10 for much of the race before problems near the end relegated her to 17th.

The 2010 Snowball champion, who was hoping another win could once again parlaying a trip to racing’s big league, had tears in her eyes as she wandered behind her position in the pits.

“Our car was too tight from the beginning,� Long said. “We made some adjustments. We just didn’t pick up the throttle at the end.

“My pit crew did an awesome job. It’s definitely something we can take into next season. But it’s not the kinda finish we wanted. This was a top-10 car and we should’ve been there at the end.�

Sixteen-year-old Dalton Sargeant of Fort Lauderdale finished had himself a day at his first career Snowball.

Starting near the back, he somehow managed to finish right behind Nemechek at the end for a runner-up finish. California driver Derek Thorn rounded out the podium.

“We lost to John Hunter Nemechek. Other than that, we come home second and you can’t be upset with that,� Sargeant said. “We slowly worked our way up from the back. We were able to save our tires. We didn’t push it too hard. I knew it the final laps, the tires would help me.�

At 323 laps, this edition of the Snowball was the longest since Long’s win in 2010, which saw an eye-popping 328.

2014 Snowball Derby Results

(powered by 51's Third Turn)
Fin
St
#
Driver
Laps
Led
1 3 8 John Hunter Nemechek 323 68
2 25 5 Dalton Sargeant 323 0
3 11 43 Derek Thorn 323 0
4 1 18 Hunter Robbins 323 57
5 29 90 Grant Enfinger 323 7
6 20 51 Stephen Nasse 323 0
7 26 99 Casey Smith 323 0
8 4 112 Augie Grill 323 11
9 35 29 Anderson Bowen 322 2
10 18 31 Kyle Grissom 322 0
11 14 29 Jeff Choquette 322 0
12 37 2R Clay Rogers 322 0
13 23 07 Corey LaJoie 321 0
14 5 83 Scotty Ellis 321 7
15 30 10 Steve Dorer 321 0
16 26 9K Mark Kraus 321 0
17 2 21 Johanna Long 321 59
18 34 57 Cole Timm 320 0
19 32 91 Ty Majeski 320 0
20 21 37 Brian Hoar 320 0
21 36 11 David Rogers 318 0
22 19 26 Preston Peltier 317 0
23 17 2W Donnie Wilson 316 0
24 8 98 Daniel Hemric 314 50
25 24 11 Logan Boyett 314 0
26 31 88 Garrett Jones 310 0
27 10 51J Erik Jones 305 18
28 28 42P Dennis Prunty 255 0
29 12 9 Chase Elliott 229 44
30 15 26 Bubba Pollard 219 0
31 13 42 Chad Finley 218 0
32 22 2 D.J. Vanderley 208 0
33 33 4 Kyle Plott 196 0
34 7 95 Derrick Griffin 107 0
35 5 3 Ross Kenseth 64 0
36 16 41 T.J. Reaid 16 0
37 9 1 Mike Garvey 15 0
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