SRL Notebook: Three Drivers to Battle for Title in Vegas

Event: The Retro Custom Metals 150 presented by Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse will round out the 19th season for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series on Saturday, November 23.


Popular Joint: The season finale will take place at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV).  The “Bullring” is averaging 26.2 SRL cars per event, the highest of any facility with more than one event.


Strong Entry:  31 Super Late Models are entered for this weekend’s action.  It will be the fifth consecutive SRL race at The Bullring with at least 30 cars.


The Future Look Bright:  Eight rookies are entered in this weekend’s SRL event.  Dylan Cappello and Tanner Reif will be attempting to make their first career series starts.


Record Season:  With the current entry list showing 31 Super Late Models, the all-time SRL record for average car count will be surpassed.  The series would end up with an average of 27.1 Super Late Models per championship event.


Bullring Dominator: Six-time Bullring Super Late Model Champion Scott Gafforini will make his first SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series start.  He is the all-time winningest driver at the facility with 67 career victories.  Gafforini finished as the Super Late Model Championship runner-up in 2019.


Championship Focus:  With this being the final event of the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series presented by Lucas Oil season, all eyes are on the three championship contenders still alive in the standings.  2018 SRL Rookie of the Year Cole Moore leads two-time SRL winner Linny White by 19 points, with four-time series champion Derek Thorn sitting 54 points back.  Moore can clinch the championship by finishing third in the “Retro Custom Metals 150 presented by Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse.”  If White were to win the race, he would need Moore to finish fourth or worse to win the title.  If he were to finish second, Moore would only need to finish sixth or better to secure the championship over White.  To win the championship, Derek Thorn will need to win the event with Moore finishing 13th or worse and White finishing eighth or worse.


Championship Contender No. 1:  Cole Moore took the series championship lead after the Kern County Raceway event in June when Derek Thorn was absent.  The three-time winner in the Pacific Challenge Series in 2018 was the front runner for the championship in that series, but mechanical difficulties derailed that effort.


In 2019, Moore has found that consistency with his Mario Isola led team.  Moore is still looking for his first SPEARS Southwest Tour Series victory, but his six top-fives and seven top-10 finishes tie him for the series lead in both categories.   He has two third-place results and finished a career best second in the last event at Kern County Raceway.  It appears Moore’s trajectory is heading in the right direction.


With the series heading to The Bullring, it is a facility at which Moore has seen improvement.  His first two starts at Vegas found him finishing in the low teens.  His last three starts, however, show a second, fourth and sixth, leading 58 laps in one event. It is a track Moore enjoys.  He hopes to score his biggest accomplishment in racing after taking the checkered flag.


“The championship would be the biggest thing that I have ever accomplished in racing competition, period,” Moore stated.  “I am extremely focused on taking this title and if we pull it off, I will be so honored to put my name beside the other great drivers that have been champions in this series.


“With that being said, I know how good Linny (White) has been, really fast, and he will be fast in Vegas, it’s inevitable.  We are expecting it to be an all-out battle to the end, and I am excited to give it everything we have in Vegas.”


Championship Contender No. 2:  Linny White is in his first full season of SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series competition.  He is a former Super Late Model champion at Irwindale Speedway and two-time Late Model Champion at Havasu 95 Speedway.  He also holds three championships at Orange Show Speedway.  White could have been overlooked for the championship at the beginning of the season, but since his switch to a Rowdy Manufacturing race car at race number three, he has been lightning fast.


White scored his first two SRL victories in 2019, both at Kern County Raceway.  He has six top-five finishes, but two DNF’s in the first three events set him back.  White has come back with a vengeance, however, not finishing lower than third. The season finale’s location, at The Bullring could not be more perfect for the Colton Cowboy.  His best pre-2019 SRL finishes were at the Las Vegas short track.


White also counts two “Senator’s Cup” Open Comp wins in the Super Late Model.  He is coming off a second-place run just last month in that event.  It is a fact that could set the table for White to bring home the championship.  It is something that would top off a great season for the Earl Robbins owned team.


“Obviously, a championship would mean so much to me, but I feel like what we accomplished as a team this year is hard to top,” White stated.  “I could not have had any success without my guys believing in me and coming to every track ready to go to work against the best talent on the west coast.”


When asked about his chances of bring home the title, White was cautious in his response, but resolute in his goal for the weekend.


“It’s racing so I don’t know what my chances are.  Cole has been so consistent and Derek (Thorn), well he is Derek and he is good everywhere.  But I’m going into the weekend with the same attitude as every race, and I hope we’re standing in Victory Lane when the dust settles, and I hope that’s enough!”


Championship Contender No. 3:  There is very little that Derek Thorn hasn’t done in Super Late Model racing on the west coast.  Four SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series championships, 40 SRL wins, a Winter Showdown victory, a $15,000 win in the Senator’s Cup at the Bullring.  Wins in the Pacific Challenge Series and the North State Challenge Series are just a few of his other accomplishments.  His next goal is to become the first SPEARS Southwest Tour Series Champion to take the title while missing a race.


Thorn missed the fifth event of the season at Kern County Raceway while chasing a Summer Showdown victory at Evergreen Speedway (WA).  He missed out on that win when he lost a motor with less than 25 laps to go.  He was leading at the time.


Thorn has 10 Super Late Model wins at The Bullring, including three of his last four starts there.  Nine of his total wins were in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series.  With a 54-point deficit to overcome, Las Vegas is the perfect battleground for Thorn to face off with his rivals.  He is thrilled to still be in championship contention.


“After missing a race this year, it’s exciting going into Vegas with a mathematical shot at the championship,” Thorn stated. “Byron (Campbell) and Mike (Keen) have put together a great team, with solid cars each race.  We will go to Vegas with the same mindset as always, and focus on being the best we can, and add to our notebook for the [Snowball] Derby.”


Rookie Battle:  By taking the green flag on Saturday, Tyler Fabozzi will claim the Rookie of the Year Award in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series.


Returning Rookie: Jace Hansen will return to the series after missing the last event at Kern County Raceway.  Hansen celebrated the birth of his daughter on that weekend.


SRL Winners:  15 drivers on the pre-entry roster have Super Late Model touring series wins.


SRL Champions:  Six drivers on the pre-entry roster have Super Late Model touring series championships.  Craig Raudman, Eric Schmidt, Mike Beeler, Jacob Gomes, John Moore and Derek Thorn make up that list.


SPEARS Modified Series:  28 Modifieds are currently on the expected entry list for the “Lucas Oil 75 presented by FLUIDYNE High Performance.” The list includes drivers from eight different states.  Seven of those drivers are from the state of Idaho.  Six drivers on the roster have SPEARS Modified Series wins on their resume.


Modified Champion:  Dylan Cappello has clinched the SPEARS Modified Series crown with one race remaining.  Cappello will pull double duty, participating in both the Super Late Models and the Modifieds.


Modified Rookie Battle:  Travis McCullough leads Kyle Keller by a mere four points in the battle for Rookie-of-the Year honors in the series.


Race Coverage:  The “Retro Custom Metals 150 presented by Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse” and the “Lucas Oil 75 presented by FLUIDYNE High Performance” will both be shown on MAVTV at a date to be named later.  They will be live streamed on LucasOil.TV.


Saturday Schedule:  Saturday’s action gets underway with the Spectator Gates opening at 2:00 pm.  The Late Model Truck Heat Races are scheduled for 2:15 p.m.  Jr. Late Model Qualifying follows at 2:30 p.m., with SPEARS Modified and SPEARS Southwest Tour Series Qualifying up next.  Opening Ceremonies are scheduled for 4:00 p.m., with Feature Events for the Jr. Late Models (two 35-lap segments), SPEARS Modifieds (75-laps), Late Model Trucks (35 laps) and the “Retro Custom Metal 150 presented by Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse” following.


-Story by: Kevin Peters, SRL

-Photo credit: SRL

SRL Notebook: Three Drivers to Battle for Title in Vegas