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.
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.
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