John Hunter Nemechek rallies to win 47th Snowball Derby

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It was a long weekend, but well worth it for John Hunter Nemechek, as he emerged the winner of Sunday’s 47th annual Snowball Derby at 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.

The victory in the 300-lap event around the half-mile asphalt oval capped off a rather eventful 24 hours for Nemechek, a part-time driver on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series circuit and son of team owner and NASCAR driver Joe Nemechek.

He finished second in the event’s undercard race, the Allen Turner Snowflake 100, which began Saturday night and did not finish until 4 am early Sunday morning due to a lengthy rain delay.

Then came the main event on Sunday. Nemechek qualified third and would go on to lead 68 laps of the 300-lap event, the most of any driver.

Nemechek passed pole-sitter Hunter Robbins to retake the lead on Lap 286 and appeared headed for the win, but a wreck between fellow NASCAR driver Johanna Long and Preston Peltier with less than 10 laps remaining brought out the caution.

With most of the rest of the field pitting, Augie Grill and NASCAR driver Erik Jones grabbed the lead but both spun shortly after the ensuing restart, allowing Nemechek to again regain the point and go on to the victory.

https://twitter.com/BruceGranerPNJ/status/541743484718555137/photo/1

Dalton Sargeant finished second, followed by Derek Thorn, Robbins and ARCA star Grant Enfinger.

Long, who won the 2010 Snowball Derby, is a native of the Pensacola area. She started on the outside pole but finished a disappointing 17th.

Reigning NASCAR Nationwide Series champ Chase Elliott was among the favorites in Sunday’s race, but wrecked with Jones on Lap 220 and was forced out of the race shortly afterward due to overheating.

Other notable names and their finishes in the event:

* Erik Jones ultimately finished 27th.

* Corey LaJoie (13th), son of former Busch Series champ Randy LaJoie.

* Ross Kenseth (35th), son of NASCAR star Matt Kenseth.

Here are the unofficial final results, courtesy of Tireball.com

 

Fin St # Driver Led
1 3 8 John Hunter Nemechek 68
2 25 5 Dalton Sargeant 0
3 11 43 Derek Thorn 0
4 1 18 Hunter Robbins 57
5 29 90 Grant Enfinger 7
6 20 51 Stephen Nasse 0
7 26 99 Casey Smith 0
8 4 112 Augie Grill 11
9 35 29 Anderson Bowen 2
10 18 31 Kyle Grissom 0
11 14 29 Jeff Choquette 0
12 37 2R Clay Rogers 0
13 23 07 Corey LaJoie 0
14 5 83 Scotty Ellis 7
15 30 10 Steve Dorer 0
16 26 9K Mark Kraus 0
17 2 21 Johanna Long 59
18 34 57 Cole Timm 0
19 32 91 Ty Majeski 0
20 21 37 Brian Hoar 0
21 36 11 David Rogers 0
22 19 26 Preston Peltier 0
23 17 2W Donnie Wilson 0
24 8 98 Daniel Hemric 50
25 24 11 Logan Boyett 0
26 31 88 Garrett Jones 0
27 10 51J Erik Jones 18
28 28 42P Dennis Prunty 0
29 12 9 Chase Elliott 44
30 15 26 Bubba Pollard 0
31 13 42 Chad Finley 0
32 22 2 D.J. VanderLey 0
33 33 4 Kyle Plott 0
34 7 95 Derrick Griffin 0
35 5 3 Ross Kenseth 0
36 16 41 T.J. Reaid 0
37 9 1 Mike Garvey 0

 

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Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.