John Hunter Nemechek earns historic Snowball Derby win

BY foxsports • December 8, 2014

At just 17 years old, John Hunter Nemechek is already turning heads behind the wheel. The son of NASCAR veteran Joe Nemechek, the father-son duo split the 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, with John earning a career-high finish of fifth at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Yet on Sunday afternoon, the younger Nemechek cemented his name in stock car history by earning his first win in the prestigious Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. Sunday's race was Nemechek's third start in the event and his first Super Late Model win.

In a race featuring 2014 Nationwide Series champion Chase Elliott, two-time Snowball Derby winner Erik Jones, as well as up-and-comers Grant Enfinger, Corey LaJoie, Johanna Long, and Daniel Hemric, Nemechek led the most laps and earned his first Snowball Derby victory in dramatic style.

"It's an amazing win. I can't describe it," Nemechek told Five Flags Speedway's Chuck Corder. "I'm proud we can put the Nemechek name in the history books of the Snowball Derby. There's so much history. It's amazing. It feels amazing. We hope to celebrate big." 

First run in 1968, the Snowball Derby is a premier short track late model race at the half-mile paved Five Flags Speedway. The list of winners is like a who's-who of racing names, including Donnie Allison, Darrell Waltrip, Pete Hamilton, Ted Musgrave, Rich Bickle Jr., Kyle Busch, and Chase Elliott just to name a few.

Despite leading the most laps, the win was no simple task for Nemechek. The 17-year-old also competed in Saturday night's Snowflake 100, which ended in the early morning hours of Sunday. With little sleep, Nemechek remained focused at the task at hand, leading 68 of the 323 laps.

Nemechek had to overcome multiple late-race restarts, getting the advantage each time and eventually driving away with the checkered flag. Dalton Sargeant, Derek Thorn, Hunter Robbins, Enfinger, Stephen Nasse, Casey Smith, Augie Grill, Anderson Bowen, and Kyle Grissom rounded out the top 10.

Ross Kenseth, son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth, had high hopes for the Snowball Derby, but finished 35th out of 37 cars when he had a mechanical issue in his ugly Christmas sweater themed car.

Chase Elliott's chance at victory came to an end when he was caught up in a chain-reaction incident that also collected Bubba Pollard. The Nationwide Series champion and former Snowball Derby winner ended the day behind the wall and out of the race in the 29th spot.

After his impressive victory, congratulations to Nemechek poured in from the majority of the NASCAR community.

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