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Gragson Wins 51st Snowball Derby

Gragson Wins 51st Snowball Derby

NASCAR racing star Kyle Busch has strong ties to Pensacola’s Snowball Derby. He’s won the race twice, himself. And a stable of drivers coming up through his Late Model racing program have also found success in the country’s premiere short-track race. Add Noah Gragson to the list.

Gragson, the 20-year old from Las Vegas, made the most of his final race with the Busch Motorsports Team. Gragson outsprinted Ty Majeski, Jeff Choquette and a half dozen other contenders over the final six laps to claim the Tom Dawson Trophy as winner of the 51st Snowball Derby. Gragson is leaving KBM to race full-time on the Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports, next year.

Harrison Burton was in position to become the first pole-sitter to win the Derby in 13 years when he was the only contender to take tires during a caution with 90 laps to go. He stormed to the lead, passing Majeski with 38 laps to go. But Burton was banking on green flag racing the rest of the way, the same strategy that had paid off for Busch a year earlier.

But two cautions in the final 22 laps doomed Burton’s plan. All the other contenders were able to pit for fresh tires while Burton stayed on the track. And while Burton had the lead, he was no match for Gragson on the restarts. Gragson quickly stormed to the lead and raced to the win. Majeski finished second, Choquette, third.

Gragson is the third driver to win the race in a KBM car. Busch won the Snowball in 2009 and again last year. Erik Jones won the second of his two Snowball Derby titles, driving for Busch in 2013. Jones also outraced Busch to win the 2012 Derby, but Jones was not racing for KBM, that year.

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