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55th Snowball Derby Preview

By Kyle Magda

The 55th Snowball Derby weekend takes palce at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. 

2012 Snowball Derby winner Erik Jones is entered in the No. 4 car and was quickest in Friday's super-late model practice at Five Flags. Derek Thorn led Thursday's session in the No. 43 machine. Thorn led the most laps in last year's Snowball Derby.

Josh Berry is coming off a win for JR Motorsports and is driving for Rackely W.A.R. Racing in the super-late model. Brittney Zamora and Jake Bollman are competed in the pro late model division. 

2018 winner Noah Gragson is driving for Rette Jones Racing and looks to add another trophy after an eight-win season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2022, including a four-win stretch in September.

ARCA East champ Sammy Smith is also competing in the super late model division after winning the last three ARCA Menards Series races of the season.

Alabama native John Bolen is pulling double-duty in the Snowflake 100 and Snowball Derby. Cale Gale is also running in the Snowflake 100. 

There are 62 entries for the 55th Snowball Derby and 57 entries in the Snowflake 100. Ty Majeski is coming off his first two career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victories late in the season at Bristol and Homestead. Majeski won the 2020 Snowball Derby and is always a threat to win behind the wheel of a super late model.

Leland Honeyman ran select ARCA races for Young's Motorsports and also made his Truck Series debut for the team as well. Honeyman was fast in Friday's Snowflake 100 practice.

Looking at potential favorties for Sunday's 55th Snowball Derby, I tend to go in the direction of Erik Jones because he runs well at Five Flags and the 2012 win sparked off his NASCAR career.

Josh Berry is another to keep an eye on after a big win last weekend for JR Motorsports. Noah Gragson is also a driver who knows how to win the Snowball Derby. Carson Hocevar is entered in the 55th running of the race.

The 2022 NASCAR banquet wrapped up Thursday night in Nashville and can be stream on NBC's Peacock Premium on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. The 2023 World of Outlaws and All-Star Circuit of Champions schedules were released, including a central PA swing in mid-March at Port Royal on March 10-11, Williams Grove on March 17 and Lincoln on March 18.

The World of Outlaws will also tackle the Talladega Short Track on March 24. Brad Sweet continues his championship dominance for Kasey Kahne Racing. 

The All-Star Circuit of Champions returns to Selinsgrove Speedway on August 20. The track previously hosted the All-Stars and the series returns for the date at the half-mile track. 

BAPS Motor Speedway was added to the World of Outlaws schedule for Wednesday, July 19, kicking off the week for Williams Grove's Summer Nationals that weekend. The National Open returns on Sept. 29-30, followed by the Nittany Showdown at Port Royal the week after.

Chastain Makes Improbable Move into Championship 4

By Kyle Magda

Ross Chastain pulled off one of the greatest moves in NASCAR history with an incredible ride around the outside wall in Turns 3 and 4 on the final lap at Martinsville Speedway.

Chastain went from 10th to fifth with the move and locked himself into the Championship 4, leapfrogging Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin to point his way in.

Hamlin won the first two stages of Sunday's XFINITY 500 at Martinsville and dropped back a few spots after trouble on a pit stop. He never recovered and held onto a two-point advantage until Chastain's bold move knocked the 23XI Racing co-owner out of championship contention.

Christopher Bell re-gained the lead for the final time late on four fresh tires for a walk-off win at Martinsville and join Chastain, Chase Elliott and Las Veags winner Joey Logano into Championship 4. In the owner's title, the four teams competing are the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing team, the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team by virtue of the Homestead victory, the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team and the No. 22 Team Penske group.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series is the only of the three series that won't have a split championships. All four teams and drivers are eligible for both the driver's and owner's title as it is all four playoff cars involved. Ty Gibbs got into JGR teammate Brandon Jones into Turn 1 of the final lap of Saturday's XFINITY race at the Paper Clip.

The weekend at Martinsville got started with NASCAR Whelen Modfieid Tour action Thursday night. Corey LaJoie won the 200-lapper and Jon McKennedy secyred the 2022 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title. 

Gio Scelzi took home $15,000 in Sunday's Sprintoberfest 40-lap 410 feature at Bridgeport Motorsports Park. Cory Eliason won Saturday's feature and appeared to be headed to victory lane once again until the No. 71 machine slowed on lap 17 in Sunday's feature. Neptune City, New Jersey native Kyle Reinhardt came home in the runner-up spot Sunday, with Lance Dewease completed the podium in third. Pole-sitter Devon Borden and Danny Dietrich rounded out the top-five.

Briggs Danner won the 40-lap USAC East Coast Wingless sprints feature at Bridgeport Sunday night. The United Racing Club 360 sprints are the final cars to run their feature Sunday night.

Mat Williamson won the $25,000-to-win Short Track Super Series feature at Delaware's Georgetown Speedway Saturday night. Grandview Speedway will be returning with racing action with 2023, also announced the 2023 PA Speedweek event returning on Tuesday, June 27.

Bridgeport Speedway's season is coming to a close this upcoming weekend with the $20,000-to-win Danny Serrano 100 for the Foley Cat Modifieds at a 4/10-mile track. 

2022 Year in Review

By Kyle Magda

2022 is coming to a close and it's time to review some of the best moments from this racing season.

Brent Marks closed out the 2022 410 sprint car season with a victory in the Final Showdown at BAPS Motor Speedway. Danny Dietrich finished second to Marks for the second year in-a-row. 

All three NASCAR championships were decided in early November at Phoenix Raceway. Pole-sitter Joey Logano put up a dominating victory in the Phoenix Cup race.

Ty Gibbs wrapped up the 2022 NASCAR XFINITY Series championship with a victory in the 200-lap race over spring Phoenix winner Noah Gragson. Gibbs lost his father Coy suddenly the night after winning, putting a damper on things for Sunday's Cup race.

Zane Smith made bold moves in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship race at Phoenix to win his first series championship after two straight runner-up finishes. Defending series champ Ben Rhodes came home second and defending race winner Chandler Smith third.

Ross Chastain's move at Martinsville proved to be the best moment of the 2022 NASCAR season. Chastain finished third in the Phoenix Cup race and second to Logano in the Cup standings. It was an impressive first year for the two-car Trackhouse Racing team with Chastain getting the organization's first Cup victory at the Circuit of the Americas in March. Chastain added another win at Talladega in May and Daniel Suaez also picked up his first career Cup win at Sonoma and getting a playoff berth.

The best Cup race of the season I had down to two: COTA and Homestead. The race at the Circuit of the Americas was a dramatic finish between Chastain, A.J. Allmendinger and Alex Bowman. Chastain moved Allmendinger out of the way in the final turns and also got around Bowman to power to his first career Cup win. The Homestead Cup race featured a lot of passing with the NextGen car and Kyle Larson put on a dominating performance by leading 199 of the 267 laps to score his first Cup win at Homestead. Larson won the XFINITY Series race there in 2015. The win also put the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team into the Championship 4 for the owner's title. Larson finished ninth at Phoenix and the No. 5 team ended up third in owner points.

There was a lot more racing from the rest of the season and also meant trips to Bloomsburg Fair Raceway in central Pennsylvania. The World of Outlaws Late Models made a stop to the Bloomsburg track on Thursday, May 19 and Max Blair led all 40 laps to win the feature. The All-Star Circuit of Champions raced twice at Bloomsburg in 2022 and Anthony Macri won the first event held there in April. Justin Peck took home the second Bloomsburg race in August.

Port Royal Speedway was also another frequent stop for me and all started with the Spring Showcase 40 for the Short Track Super Series on Sunday, March 20. Ryan Godown made a last-lap pass on Mike Gular to claim the STSS win and Godown had a masterful season at Bridgeport Speedway. Macri passed Brent Marks late to win the 410 feature on the card. There were some fireworks between Macri and Logan Wagner when the two made contact during the feature.

My favorite Port Royal moment of the year was Open Wheel Madness III on Saturday, August 20 featuring the 410 sprints, the 305 sprints and the USAC East Coast wingless sprints. Watching Alex Bright and Briggs Danner wheel the wingless sprints around the Speed Palace is a thrill to see. Logan Wagner held off Dylan Cisney in the 25-lap 410 feature. 

The PA Posse performed well during 2022 as they were able to beat the Outlaws on several occasions, much of the winning coming from the Hall-of-Famer Lance Dewease. He also ran the Dirt Track at Charlotte during World Finals and went from 29th to eighth in the Wednesday night portion.