The Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series kicks off its season Saturday, February 1 with the All Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway (CA). Practice for that event took place Friday, with Derek Thorn topping the charts in an eventful day at the track.
Thorn turned the fastest lap of the day in the final practice session for Super Late Models, with a lap of 17.253 seconds around the half-mile oval. Thorn considered the day a valuable learning experience ahead of Saturday’s $25,000-to-win event.
“We had something we wanted to try last session, which we crossed off as something we shouldn’t be doing,” Thorn told Speed51. “Hopefully that’ll give us some direction for tomorrow night. We have the speed. The consistency is pretty good.”
Thorn expects plenty of exciting racing on Saturday, even if he is unsure what to expect from the racing surface going into the 200-lap race.
“This place, the rock quarry just south of us kicks up a lot of dust at night,” said Thorn. “ It’s close enough to the ocean where humidity will fluctuate enough to create different levels of grip. When night comes around, this place gets some speed to it. You just never know. We’ll run the first 100 laps and hopefully have something good in our back pocket for the last 100 laps.”
Preston Peltier finished second on the overall speed chart, but it was not without incident. Peltier collected the wall early in the day, but he and his team were able to make repairs and get his entry back up to speed.
“We had a little bit of a rough day today,” Peltier acknowledged. “We bounced off the wall in practice, bent some wheels up, bent the rear end. Had to borrow a torch from somebody but we got this thing rolling pretty good.”
Peltier is confident after a strong close to the day that he has a car capable of competing for the win.
“I can’t seem to find the raw speed that Derek’s got, but it’s got really good long run speed. We’re going to go home, think about it tonight, tweak on it a little bit for tomorrow. There’s not much you can learn during the day, everything we needed to know, we found out tonight. It’s just a matter of thinking about it and putting it together tomorrow.”
Another driver who found the wall while trying out the ever-appealing high line at Irwindale was 2019 PASS Commonwealth Classic winner Austin Reed.
“I think most of [the damage] was cosmetic, luckily,” said Reed. “We didn’t get into the wall too hard. Once we got that fixed up, we went back out, made a few adjustments and stuck to the bottom after that.”
While Reed finished the day 21stout of 32 cars on the practice charts, he has plenty of faith in his car’s speed.
“The car was awesome. We never really put tires on. We did right after the wreck, and I don’t think I was up to speed, then. I think we have a really good car for race run speed, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow in qualifying.”
Reed also expects plenty of side-by-side racing on Saturday, with more than 30 cars battling around the racey half-mile.
“I think the racing is going to be awesome,” said Reed. “You can run the bottom, run the top. I was side-by-side with some guys in practice, running the bottom while they were running the top. It’s going to be great racing.”
Stay tuned to Speed51 for continued coverage from the All Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway. Practice will begin at 10:00 am PT, with qualifying for all divisions beginning at noon and opening ceremonies taking place at 5:00 p.m.
All Star Showdown Overall Practice Results
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 photo