Five Flags Speedway

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12/4/2016

12/4/2016

Five Flags Speedway


Grill Notches Emotional Allen Turner Snowflake 100 Victory, Ties Elliott for All-Time Wins in PLM RaceSnowflake and Pro Trucks

By Chuck Corder

Augie Grill had his hands full.

He was struggling to cradle a shiny new, but bulky winner’s trophy and a coveted checkered flag while he posed for photos in Victory Lane.

“You act like you hadn’t done this before,� someone said in Grill’s entourage.

Truth be told, it had been more than two years since Grill had celebrated a win at Five Flags Speedway.

That long drought ended in a major way Saturday night at the famed half-mile asphalt oval, as Grill thrilled a packed house with a victory that seemingly came out of nowhere.

Grill was his vintage self in capturing the Allen Turner Snowflake 100 for Pro Late Models on Saturday, making a mad dash from his 21st starting position and then wrestling the lead away from defending Snowflake champion and NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series multiple-winner John Hunter Nemechek.

“It has been a rough last couple of years,� an uncharacteristically gushing Grill said. “Sometimes we’ve had good cars, but then they’ve gone kaput.

“This is a big race. It may not be the Snowball (Derby), but it’s still the best Pro cars in the country. Outrunning John Hunter is special, but to go from 21st to first, that’s what is really special.�

Grill’s efforts for almost three years now has been primarily focused on building late models for his Grand American Race Cars customers, who are among short-track racing’s elite.

A year after winning the Snowflake, Nemechek finished a bitter runner-up and 14-yar-old Chandler Smith rounded out the podium in third.

Grill, now 40, was overcome with emotions in Victory Lane, letting out multiple fist pumps, screams of adulation and sharing long embraces with his team, family members and friends.

It was his third-career Snowflake 100 win, tying him with Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Chase Elliott for the most all-time victories in the most prestigious race for Pro Late Models.

Grill, the grizzled veteran, will look to pull of the unprecedented weekend sweep at the 49th annual Snowball Derby today when the opening green flag drops at 2 p.m.

With three Snowflakes under his belt, Grill hopes he can become just the second driver to win three or more Snowball Derby races, the 300 lapper for Super Late Models. Rich Bickle with five Derby victories is atop the record books.

No matter what Grill’s end result is today, his weekend at Pensacola’s high banks won’t be one he soon forgets thanks to outdueling a field of 36 cars, including Nemechek.

The son of longtime NASCAR fan favorite Joe Nemechek, John Hunter earned two wins on the NASCAR Trucks Series this year and had come to Pensacola the last two seasons walking away with Snowball Derby (2014) and Snowflake 100 (2015) victories.

“Honestly, I thought this was possible,� Grill said. “It feels better to me being a 40-year-old man and getting to outdrive these kids.�

The legend of Augie Grill, some thought just a myth over the last few years, continues.

He wasted no time moving forward from his starting position in the middle of the 36-car pack, and set his eyes on the top-five where Nemechek and Casey Roderick were swapping leads in the early going.

Nemechek won the pole thanks to a blistering 16.671-second lap and shot off early until Roderick took the P1 spot 17 laps into the race.

Roderick would lead the next 32 laps until Nemechek overtook him and reclaimed the lead as the race approached the halfway point.

“I saw Casey up there after a caution when I was in sixth, and I thought that maybe he’d get by (Nemechek),� Grill said.

But that battle gave way to a classic waged between Grill and Nemechek beginning when Grill passed Roderick for second on Lap 70.

Grill quickly began pulling in Nemechek like his No. 112 had a gravitational force echoing from it.

It set the scene for two of short-track racing’s most aggressive drivers to slug it out down the stretch. Grill has never been one to shy away from giving the bumper to slower cars. Nemechek made an infamous name for himself with some aggressive driving during a NASCAR Trucks race in Canada earlier this summer.

Following a restart on Lap 87, Grill powered around Nemechek on the outside and pulled away.

The 19-year-old Nemechek, though, accused Grill of jumping the restart, which didn’t sit kindly with the standing-room only crowd at Five Flags.

“I thought the leader was supposed to start the race,� a visibly frustrated Nemechek said, as fans showered him with a chorus of boos. “But I guess that’s the race director call. But I think we learned something for Sunday.�

For his part, Grill was adamant he didn’t use any competitive advantage to take the lead.

“I took off when (Nemechek) did and beat him to the flag,� he said.

Simply put, Augie Grill was faster than everybody on the racetrack Saturday.

A familiar, if not long overdue, refrain for Grill at Five Flags.

 

 

Parker Takes Late Lead, Pro Trucks Snowball Derby Crown from Jorgensen’s Grasp

 

In the now five years Five Flags Speedway has staged the race, the Beef “O� Brady’s Pro Trucks 50-lap championship typically closes the show on the third night of Snowball Derby.

Saturday night followed the same script at the 49th annual running of short-track racing’s most prestigious weekend of racing.

Another tradition that mercilessly continued Saturday was an aggressive brand of driving that led to a long night.

Big pileups and tangled crashes around Pensacola’s high banks, along with multiple spins, led to more than a dozen cautions. The race’s average net speed, with those yellows included, was a paltry 16.667 mph.

Not a lick of that matters now to Jarrett Parker, though.

The 21-year-old Molino driver capped a breakout Beef “O� Brady’s Pro Trucks rookie campaign the best way possible. Parker won the 50-lap Pro Trucks Snowball Derby, his third victory at Five Flags this season.

“I’m unbelievably happy right now,� he said. “I gave it my all. It feels amazing.�

Parker started third and was in the top-five all night in the caution-marred race. He made his push for the lead on Lap 47 while running second.

Reigning Pro Trucks track champion Taylor Jorgensen, whose three regular season wins helped sew up the title in September, was in front of Parker when the pair approached lapped traffic.

After not making many mistakes all night and looking as smooth as silk as she made her passes, Jorgensen struggled mightily in the stretch run to navigate cars trying not to go a lap down.

With Parker on her bumper, Jorgensen picked the wrong lane and Parker made a professional pass. His patience had been rewarded.

Jorgensen of Stockbridge, Ga., finished runner-up and Cody Haskins of Dawsonville, Ga., finished third.

“There was a lapped car coming outta Turn No. 4 and I messed up,� Jorgensen said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t get the win, but to finish second in the Snowball Derby, that’s a huge accomplishment for me.

“Although, I would’ve liked to win. My family has sacrificed a ton. I’m really thankful for them. I’m still happy because that’s an awesome finish.�

Parker’s No. 46 marked the second straight year that the truck ended up as the Pro Trucks Snowball Derby champion.

Last year, Steven Davis won in it before Parker took it off his hands. This year, Davis had the fast time in qualifying (18.621 seconds) and was a top contender early before being a part of one of the many accidents in the Pro Trucks race Saturday.

“This was an amazing truck to begin with, but we made it my own,� Parker said.

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