PENSACOLA, Fla. – Caleb Burkett was the epitome of the old adage that “sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good” during the opening night of the 51st annual Snowball Derby on Wednesday night.

Burkett had the good fortune of being the first legal car to cross the finish line during the 50-lap Pure Stock feature that opened Snowball Derby week at Five Flags Speedway.

Though he took the checkered flag for the Lloyd’s Glass 50 in third, Burkett was awarded the win at the half-mile Florida oval after four of the top-five finishers were disqualified.

The win for the 17-year-old Burkett came 19 years after his father Wayne won the same event.

“We’re gonna party all weekend long,” Burkett said. “We won the Derby and the bounty (on Balkum) earlier in the season. I’d say we won the two biggest races of the year.

“People always told me if you don’t win it on the racetrack that you could still win it in the tech shed and I never really believed that,” he added. “This is a dream come true.”

Technical violations discovered during post-race inspection led to original race winner Chance Imel, runner-up Mike Moody, fourth-place James Hollingsworth and fifth-place Matt Jackson all being thrown out by head technical inspector Ricky Brooks.

Imel led 47 of the 50 laps, but was disqualified for an engine compression violation, while Moody was thrown out for illegal lifters. Hollingsworth and Jackson also had issues meeting compression guidelines.

Darrell McDonald was awarded a runner-up finish, followed by Tony Boyd, Corey Boddie and Kevin Merritt.

Polesitter TJ Thompson set a new track record of 21.289 seconds in qualifying and led the first three laps, but went off on the hook with 11 to go and failed to finish.

The finish:

Caleb Burkett, Darrell McDonald, Tony Boyd, Corey Boddie, Kevin Merritt, Dylan Courtney, Thomas Norman, TJ Thompson, Bobby Suarez, Brandin Sidner, Sarah Dority, David Johnson, Cameron Leytham, Robert Balkum, Jay Whalen, Corey Pittman. DQ: Chance Imel, Mike Moody, James Hollingsworth, Matt Jackson.

Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman, 24, is the founder and managing editor of 77 Sports Media and a major contributing writer for SPEED SPORT Magazine. He is studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. and also serves as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.

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