Life comes at you fast. Especially at the Snowball Derby.

Keep your head on a swivel when you come to Five Flags Speedway in December.

The most prestigious short-track race in America is full of surprises and always keeps its fans, but more importantly its drivers and their teams on their toes.

In less than 20 minutes, driving wunderkind Christopher Bell went from setting a blistering track record and snatching the pole for the Derby’s 48th running on Sunday to being resigned to today’s series of last-chance races.

The 21-year-old Kyle Busch Motorsports driver had his 16.027-second time thrown out in technical inspection.

“I hope it sticks around a while,” Bell said moments after. “It’s the first track record I’ve ever gotten. It was pretty surprising. I thought I under drove it, but I knew it was going to be a good lap.”

Too good, apparently.

Chief inspector Ricky Brooks determined both Bell’s No. 51 and defending Derby champion John Hunter Nemechek violated the rule book, resulting in both drivers’ qualifying times being thrown out.

The disqualification came when Brooks ruled both teams went well beyond the allowed seven inches of space between the center of the wheel and the right rear quarter panel.

“Not only was the rule violated in black and white, but so was the tolerance that is allowed,” said Brooks via Speed51.com’s Bob Dillner.

The news echoed across the famed half-mile asphalt oval that staged one heck of a qualifying session with 60 Super Late Models trying to be one of the top 30 cars guaranteed a spot Sunday.

Because of Bell’s issues, fellow 21-year-old driver Ty Majeski vaulted to the pole. The last time a poile sitter won the Derby came in 2005. That year, one of Pensacola’s favorite driving sons, Eddie Mercer, mercifully ended his long frustrations and hoisted the one trophy he long coveted.

Before Bell set his record lap, Majeski was the first to break the old mark. He turned a time of 16.120 seconds, topping Chase Elliott’s mark (16.133), set at the 2013 Derby.

Like Bell, Majeski is another 21 year old with a sparkling resume. The Wisconsin native has won 18 times at 13 different tracks this season.

Elliott will start outside of Majeski on Row 1 thanks to his 16.157 time. The 2011 Derby winner, three-time Snowflake 100 champion and 2014 NASCAR Xfinity Series king, Elliott is likely making one of his final appearances at the Derby.

Next season, he hops in Jeff Gordon’s old seat for Hendrick Motorsports in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.

“It would’ve been nice to be a tick better to improve the starting spot, but it’s a long race on Sunday,” Elliott said.

Nemechek will be in Sunday’s field with Elliott courtesy of a past-champion’s provisional.

It will be more difficult for Bell, who must earn his way in during this afternoon’s series of last-chance races.

“I’ve got to fight my way (today),” said Bell, who captured a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway in Ohio. “I’ve got the best team in the world with this 51 team. They’ve shown me a lot of respect, and now it’s in my hands to do it.”

Pensacola’s Logan Boyett (16.178) and Johanna Long (16.206) — the 2010 Derby champ — qualified fifth and seventh, respectively, with 2015 Blizzard Series champion Casey Roderick sandwiched between them in sixth.

Some notables that will compete alongside Bell in the last-chance races today include Five Flags regulars Junior Niedecken and Garrett Jones, and short-track stalwarts, such as Steve Doer and Boris Jurkovic.

Complete qualifying results can be found below.

1 91 Ty Majeski 16.120
2 9 Chase Elliott 16.157
3 48 Preston Peltier 16.161
4 5S Dalton Sargeant 16.168
5 11 Logan Boyett 16.178
6 7 Casey Roderick 16.191
7 21 Johanna Long 16.206
8 51N Stephen Nasse 16.207
9 20 Spencer Davis 16.216
10 3 Kaz Grala 16.216
11 5H Daniel Hemric 16.226
12 43 Derek Thorn 16.229
13 112 Augie Grill 16.231
14 31 Kyle Grissom 16.234
15 9 William Byron 16.237
16 2 D.J. VanderLey 16.245
17 5 Jerry Artuso 16.245
18 26 Bubba Pollard 16.246
19 77 Zane Smith 16.251
20 9 Derek Kraus 16.258
21 2W Donnie Wilson 16.267
22 45 Kyle Plott 16.275
23 83 Scotty Ellis 16.275
24 12 Harrison Burton 16.297
25 H2 Bret Holmes 16.298
26 42 Chad Finley 16.298
27 67 Clay Jones 16.319
28 17 Quin Houff 16.327
29 8 Noah Gragson 16.339
30 07 Corey LaJoie 16.341
31 15 Christian Eckes 16.350
32 7 Paul Shafer, Jr. 16.353
33 4 Dalton Armstrong 16.355
34 29 Caleb Adrian 16.377
35 53 Boris Jurkovic 16.390
36 96 Wade Day 16.390
37 47 Brian Campbell 16.401
38 99 Casey Smith 16.409
39 94 Quinnton Bear 16.435
40 57 Cole Timm 16.435
41 98 Todd Gilliland 16.440
42 43 Dennis Schoenfeld 16.444
43 13 Cassius Clark 16.449
44 98 Mason Mingus 16.474
45 11 David Rogers 16.475
46 75 Jeremy Doss 16.487
47 1 Garrett Jones 16.505
48 04 Cory Roper 16.506
49 10 Steve Dorer 16.513
50 20 Cole Rouse 16.518
51 88 Roger Reuse 16.625
52 79 Kyle Bryant 16.672
53 47 Allen Karnes 16.705
54 22 Josh Bragg 16.736
55 99 Junior Niedecken 16.770
56 7 John DeAngelis, Jr. 16.854
57 42 Dennis Prunty 99.999
58 6 Tim Martin 99.999
DQ 51 Christopher Bell 16.027
DQ 8 John Hunter Nemechek 16.198

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