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Kyle Busch Wins The Snowball

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, December 7 2009
Kyle Busch and his crew chief, Johnny Sauter, got the victory at the Snowball Derby on Sunday. (RacinToday photo by Jeff Hood)

Kyle Busch and his crew chief, Johnny Sauter, got the victory at the Snowball Derby on Sunday. (RacinToday photo by Jeff Hood)

Pensacola, Fla. – NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Kyle Busch was the first driver to cross the finish line in Sunday’s 42nd annual Snowball Derby.

But Super Late Model racing was the big winner over the weekend.

At the close of a year ,when race teams have been forced to search for sponsorship in the worst economy since the Great Depression, more than 60 teams showed up at Five Flags Speedway on Thursday hoping to land one of the 37 starting positions in the annual 300 lap event.

And despite frigid conditions, fans turned out in full force for Sunday’s Derby. The grandstands overlooking the half-mile oval were filled to capacity. And the infield was jammed with teams and spectators.

As is customary, team haulers were removed from the infield on race day. That opened up space for fans to drive personal vehicles inside the track and watch the festivities from the infield.

Busch led early before riding about a half-lap behind the leaders during the middle stages on Sunday. But the Las Vegas native played pit strategy to perfection by bolting on his last set of sticker tires on his No. 51 Toyota with 52 laps remaining.

After restarting third with 49 laps to go, Busch methodically worked his way to the front of the field to overtake eventual runner-up finisher Eddie Mercer.

Busch avoided near-disaster on a late-race restart when race-leader Mercer’s car failed to fire when the green flag waved. The inside line of lapped cars took off while Mercer bottled up the outside lane.

Seventeen-year-old Johanna Long of Pensacola led the field to the green before slowly backpedalling through the field.

Long complained of an ill-handling car throughout the event.

Following the advice of racing legend Freddie Query, who served as her spotter, Long wound up 18th.

Chase Elliott, the 14-year-old son of former NASCAR Cup champion Bill Elliott, turned in an impressive effort in his Derby debut.

With his father serving as his spotter, Elliott stayed on the lead lap throughout the day and finished seventh.

Snowball Derby Order of Finish

1.  Kyle Busch

2.  Eddie Mercer

3.  Steven Wallace

4.  Bobby Gill

5.  John Bolen

6.  Grant Enfinger

7.  Chase Elliott

8.  Wayne Niedecken Jr.

9.  Ryan Lawler

10.  Ryan Sieg

11.  Scott Carlson

12.  Ross Kenseth

13.  Scott Hantz

14.  Dennis Prunty

15.  Dennis Schoenfeld

16.  Brian Scott

17.  Randy Gentry

18.  Johanna Long

19.  Gary Helton

20.  Danny Bagwell

21.  Stephan McCurley

22.  Casey Smith

23.  David Rogers

24.  Justin Drawdy

25.  Brian Ickler

26.  Shane Sieg

27.  David Stremme

28.  Cale Gale

29. Josh Hamner

30.  Tyler Millwood

31.  Augie Grill

32.  Brian Campbell

33.  Hunter Robbins

34.  Bubba Pollard

35.  Heath Hindman

36.  Jeff Choquette

37.  Cecil Chunn

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, December 7 2009
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