Milton's Junior Niedecken is no stranger to victory lane at Five Flags Speedway.



Junior was standing beside his father Wayne Niedecken when he hoisted the first Snowball Derby Trophy in 1968 and was by his dad's side again in 1970 when he became the first two-time winner of this prestegious race.



Now Junior is ready to hoist the trophy himself.



"I have been here every year and have raced in the last 29," Niedecken said. "I have finished as high as second, but there have been some disappointments along the way as well as we have been in a position to win about 10 times.



"This year I feel like we have a rocket of a car, and with the right opportunities we can win it this year."



At 55 years of age Niedecken might seem to be much the senior to the likes of younger drivers such as Steven Wallace, Johanna Long, Kyle Bush, and Chase Elliott all of whom recently won the derby.



But with age comes wisdom, and that is what Niedecken is counting at a track where he is approaching 9,000 laps in the Snowball Derby alone.



"Everything has to align and you have got to have luck in order to win the race," Niedecken said. "You can't afford a flat tire, or an altercation on the track these are race cars not bump cars.



"You have to have super equipment as well, but the fastest car does not always win the race."



The biggest fear Niedecken has after the field of 71 cars is cut down to the starting line-up for Sunday's race is what could happen on the track.



"You race the last 20 laps, but you have to survive the first 280 laps, Niedecken said. "You have to stay out of trouble and remember it is the last lap that pays.



"You have to be patient and sometimes the younger drivers are over aggressive."



This is where Niedecken's hopes his experience will win out and set him up for his first Derby title.



"The veterans have a camaraderie and now when the car inside gets to your door they have the hole and you give way, but younger drivers are a little more aggressive and feel if they get their nose to you they can bump you," Niedecken said. "These cars run better with the pieces and parts on them and a hit like that could cut a tire or bend a spindle."



A win for Niedecken, who is an independent driver compared to others racing this Sunday, would be a life altering experience.



"It would mean the world to me, but more for the people who have stood beside me and supported me," Niedecken said. "This is a team sport, not an individual one. You have your sponsors and your support group who do things like work all night on your car to help get it ready for the race on Sunday.



"But it would also mean a lot because it remains the most prestigious race for short track drivers as well as my dad being a winner of this race as well."



The support is a huge thing when you figure a set of tires cost $633 dollars and you will need 10 to 11 sets and gasoline runs about $11 a gallon and Niedecken expects to go through 110 gallons (2 drums) this weekend alone.



"Once you pull into the gate it will cost around $10,000 to run the show," Niedecken said. "And each time you do a mock qualifying run that is one set of tires alone."



Niedecken is very focused when he gets to the track even before he slides in his car and straps on his helmet.



"I am a shoe string racer and I am very fortunate to have good sponsors who have made this season possible," Niedecken said. "We have a rocket of a car and during our last test it was top notch.



"This is probably the best car that I have had since my dad passed away in 1993. I feel like we are going to surprise quite a few people when we take to the track."