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Long To Start Snowball From Pole

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, December 5 2009
Johanna Long will start the Snowball Derby from the pole on Sunday. (RacinToday photo by Jeff Hood)

Johanna Long will start the Snowball Derby from the pole on Sunday. (RacinToday photo by Jeff Hood)

Pensacola, Fla. – Johanna Long was fastest in qualifying for the annual Snowball Derby here and will start on the pole in Sunday’s race.

The Derby is one of the top events for Super Late Models and attracts some of the top drivers in the country. It his held at Five Flags Speedway.

In earning the pole, Long beat out several NASCAR drivers, including Kyle Busch and Steve Wallace.

Long will attempt to become the second female to win the Snowball Derby. The 17 year-old from Pensacola will attempt to match the feat achieved by Tammy Jo Kirk in 1994.

“These guys that I’m racing against are the best of the best,” said Long, who has five Late Model wins this season. “And they come from everywhere.”

“Yeah, we know the track. But they know it just as good as I do. I think it’s going to be hard. We might have a chance, but we might not.”

Long, the daughter of Late Model driver Donald Long, says she plans to continue running Late Model events in 2010. She hopes to add several ARCA races to her schedule.

NASCAR driver David Stremme said Friday he’s still working to firm up his 2010 plans.

“We’re still talking to quite a bit of people,” said Stremme, who lost his Sprint Cup ride with Penske Racing in late October.

His immediate focus is trying to win Sunday’s 42nd annual Snowball Derby.

Stremme’s biggest Late Model victory came a year ago when he won the Winchester 400.

“This is a big race,” Stremme said. “I won the Winchester 400 last year. I definitely want to win this one. It’s a big short track race. You just got to look at the names on the trophy and that tells what it is.”

“This is a pretty stout field. It’s probably the toughest field I’ve seen in a long time.”

Twenty years ago this weekend, Mobile, Ala. native Rick Crawford etched his name in Five Flags history by winning the Snowball Derby.

Crawford, a veteran in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series, returned to the site of his biggest Late Model victory on Friday.

Though he’s here as a spectator this weekend, he hasn’t ruled out another a run in the Derby in a future year.

“I’d love to be here racing on Sunday,” Crawford said. “To get ready for this particular race now, it’s like a couple of week’s adventure. Plus, trying to get cars ready and all that stuff.

“We just run out of time. I didn’t have time to do it. Maybe, one year before you hang up the helmet the stars will align and we’ll come back down and run this race.”

Crawford will return to a one-truck effort next season in his familiar No. 14 Ford F-150.

James Buescher, who was Crawford’s teammate in 2009, will drive a truck for Turner Motorsports on a part-time basis and drive James Finch’s No.1 Chevrolet full-time in the Nationwide Series in 2010.

“I’m really looking forward to next season,” Crawford said. “That deal (with a second truck) never really worked like we wanted it to.

“We’ll have a basically brand new team for next year. I can’t wait to get back to Daytona.

Crawford will once again drive for Tom Mitchell, perhaps racing’s best-known absentee owner.

“Let’s put it this way, he’s been to a race but he’s never watched me run,” Crawford said. “And I’ve been with him for 18 years. What a guy. Tom Mitchell is quite a guy. He’s been special to me.”

Paul Kelley hopes to follow up his win in last month’s World Crown 300 at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Ga. with a victory in Saturday evening’s Snowflake 100 at Five Flags.

“It would be real nice,” said Kelley, a resident of Pendergrass, Ga. “I’ve got my sponsor, Hedman Headers, coming down. To get a win for our sponsor and our team to close out the season would be awesome.”

Kelley said he welcomes the opportunity to race against NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Kyle Busch, who is entered in this weekend’s Snowflake 100 and Snowball Derby.

“I like running against Kyle,” Kelley said. “He’s coming down to Late Model world. He needs to stay out of our way.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, December 5 2009


  • mrclause says:

    Here we find Ms Long earning her way in racing, there was Tammy Jo, there is Chrissy Wallace and many more earning their way, paying their dues, and everyone goes ape to bring in the never been in a stock car diva Danica, who is just playing with nascar, the owners, the fans.

    Why aren’t we rewarding our own talent that is showing the respect, committing to stock cars, putting forth an honest effort to prove themselves as racers? Why put Danica in top equipment when she hasn’t attempted a single race? She brings nothing to nascar that any of our girls haven’t already accomplished. We are disrespecting the very ones of us that have long ago proved themselves and have respected our way of doing things. Oh, stupid me, it’s about the Benjamin’s, not the racing, forgive my flight of fantasy!

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