Kyle Busch vs Chase Elliott and everybody else regarding super late model rules
The Snowball Derby is the arguably most prestigious late model event of the season. The race runs in December at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.
The half mile asphalt track attracts the attention from the stars of NASCAR. Specifically, Kyle Busch who fields multiple machines in the event each year.
As a cost saving measure, the rules have been changed for the 2019 event. Five Flags Speedway general manager Tim Bryant has eliminated live pit stops.
The race will now see controlled cautions. When a caution flag drops, the laps will not count. Additionally, positions on pit road can not be lost. Drivers will head for the pits and return to the track in the same order that they entered, regardless of how quick the pit stop was.
If the leader pits and nobody else does, the leader will still restart at the tail of the field. If the leader and ten other cars pit, then they will catch the tail of the field in the order that they entered the pit lane.
The new Snowball Derby pit stop rules were announced earlier in the week. It came during the drivers meeting for CRA Speedfest at Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, Georgia.
Why take away live pit stops in the Snowball Derby?
Because it’s damn expensive for small teams. Live pit stops require an entire crew. Usually, this means a check for $5,000 or more to staff an over the wall crew.
This gives teams will unlimited funds a clear advantage. As we’ve seen in recent editions of the race, speed on pit road is important.
Yet, the teams with less funding and a temporary crew stand to be slower on pit lane. Even if you have the funds to pay for a pit crew, it doesn’t mean they are as warmed up as another crew that does it on a weekly basis.
Five Flags Speedway track manger Tim Bryant explains…
“A lot of thought went into it, and honestly, we were late to the party when it comes to controlled cautions,” Bryant told Short Track Scene. “With the fans in mind, they love live pit stops and we do too, but this is about the cost and what it takes to bring the best pit crews in.
“We have such a tough level of competition at the Snowball Derby, and like NASCAR, the race on pit road was becoming more and more important, and teams were starting to spend more to get that advantage.”
“We felt like that had priced some of our competitors out of what they could typically afford and we wanted to make sure they could compete,” Bryant added. “It was a tough decision, but we’re comfortable with it, and with the distance of the race, that teams will be able to employ different strategies.”
Driver react to Snowball Derby rules
Kyle Busch Motorsports is obviously the team that’s typically quickest on pit lane. Noah Gragson took the win for KBM in the 2018 edition of the race.
Here’s a collection of the ongoing discussions:
Kyle Busch isn’t happy with the Snowball Derby change:
Kyle Busch crashed out of his first Snowball Derby at age 16. He returned the next year and took the win.
“Very poor decision. It was the last race where we all knew what it took to win, the last true race where every variable mattered. It’s the freaking SNOWBALL man. It’s the Daytona500 of SLM racing. I’m disappointed to say the least,” Kyle Busch stated via twitter.
Kyle Busch was asked to think about the teams that can’t afford it. To which he replied:
“Not my problem. Budget for it. Those that can’t afford the pit crew prolly aren’t going to b contending for the win anyway. Reality sucks!”
KBM is probably a big reason for this new change. A fan accused Busch of causing the change after bring in ‘pit stop ringers’. Busch disagrees:
“The hired pit crew costs $3500 for derby weekend. We know this year after year and budget for it. Teams should know when u want to go race and win the SNOWBALL that there r added expenses. Always are!”
“Well Tires for the derby r in the $5000 range. Amongst other things that cost money, $3500 doesn’t look that far off.”
“I would best money that I (ME) could do a 17.50 pit stop for a SLM race. Anytime. If I can do it, there should certainly b people around a 50mile radius of any racers shop that can do it too. Practice a little bit and u have a pit crew.”
“Speedfest doesn’t need pit stops. The SNOWBALL DERBY needs pit stops. It was “one of” the last real races where all things mattered. Now I believe only Oxford250 is.”
The drivers are in disagreement. Chase Elliott is a former winner of the Snowball Derby.
Elliott: “Respectfully disagree. How many W’s would Ty Majeski have down there if he and KBM swapped out pit crews for the final stop of the day only.”
Busch responded: “Get rid of 5’s and u might have a better day on pit road.”
Ty Majeski: “It’s not free to switch a car over to 5 on 5s. We have the budget to go to the derby and be competitive, but we don’t have the budget to build a car specifically for that race. I’m not looking for sympathy. We’ll be there next year with wide 5s regardless of the format.”
Lajoie stated: “Getting the cost down to help the racers is the main goal here. Since you don’t like the controlled cautions for the Derby, what do you believe should be changed to bring the cost down?”
Kyle Busch responded: “Dude. NASCAR owners r asking the same questions every week. Guess what… racing is expensive. No one has the right answers. People needing to b down at the derby on Wednesday is one of the dumbest things I know. Cut a day out.”
Lajoie continued: “I wasn’t being condescending, I was just wanting your honest opinion. You’ve seen budgets for the Derby, you know what it takes. Pollard talked about it yesterday, there’s a lot of problems with short track racing that will never be solved unless ppl talk about how to fix it.”
Busch’s rebuttal: “Well all the promoters, track owners, series directors all seem to have a voice but u know what’s missing in that group? The drivers, owners, chassis builders, racers. Bubba and I talked. We r sickened that decisions keep getting made and yet our phones never ring.”
Stephen Nasse brought fireworks to the 2018 Snowball Derby. His hired crew left wheels loose, multiple times.
Nasse tried to spin the car out and bring out a caution so he could return to the pit lane. In doing so, the wheel broke off and Nasse put a $100,000 car in the wall.
He climbed from his car and went for a ling walk down the pit lane. When he reached his box, he tossed his helmet and Hans device at his crew. This led to a shoving match before Nasse told his hired crew to, ‘Get the fuck out.’
Nasse was fired up with his crew all weekend. They apparently talked a big game and dropped names ahead of the race. When it came time for them to work, Nasse knew they weren’t experienced.
“I want to win the Snowball Derby with my team, not guys we paid for one day to do pit stops. Live pit stops are fun though so I see both sides,” Stephen Nassee stated via twitter.
“Hopefully KB will still come run it with us, we all want to beat the best.”
“I’m happy, but live pit stops are fun. I was more mad I got duped by someone selling me a crew that didn’t have the experience they advertised. I would do more research next time.”
The 2019 Snowball Derby is set for December 4-8th, 2019.