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.

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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Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.