Derek Thorn continued his extraordinary season in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour, as he captured his fifth win of the season, this time at All American Speedway (CA). Thorn led every lap of the “JM Environmental Inc. Wild West Shootout Round #2 – Thunderstruck 127 presented by 51 FIFTY” to take home career victory number 46 in the series. The Campbell Motorsports driver won $6,800 for his efforts, which included the “Winners Bonus” from McGunegill Engine Performance, $500 for the Performance Friction Brakes Zero Drag Fast Time Award, from JM Environmental, $1,000 for leading lap 27, also from JM Environmental, and $300 from Dave Reeves Complete Auto Care for leading at the lap 77 break.
“Our end goal is to be a good as possible, so when we go back east to these big shows, we are as competitive as we can be, for the experience that we will have back there. We will keep chipping away at it. I can’t thank Byron and Carol Campbell enough, Mike and Vicki Keen for all the hard work they put into the program, and I am just privileged to be driving the #43”, Thorn remarked”
Thorn began his incredible day by setting Fast Time on the 1/3-mile asphalt oval. He then drew the #2 card to put him in the preferred outside groove for the initial start of the event. 2019 series champion Cole Moore would draw the #1 card, and start alongside Thorn for the fast-paced event.
At the green, Thorn jumped to the lead, with Eric Schmidt battling to the number two position from fourth starting. That didn’t last long, however, as Moore reassumed second a few laps later, with Schmidt dropping back quickly with an ill-handling race car. 2015 SRL Champion Jacob Gomes was on the move, advancing from fifth starting to third in the first few laps. He would grab second from Moore just before the lap 27 payout to the leader, Thorn.
By the lap 40 caution, brought on by the 40 consecutive green flag lap rule for this event, Thorn led Gomes, Moore, Jonathan Mawhinney and Tyler Fabozzi. 11thplace starter Linny White had only advanced to ninth at that point, but he was about to make his presence known, advancing to sixth when Tracy Bolin spun in Turn 4 on lap 53. On the restart, Thorn was able to hold off Gomes, after a lap of side-by-side action. Gomes, Mawhinney, Tyler Fabozzi, White and Cole Moore would continue to battle for positions as the field approached the lap 77 break.
At the break, Thorn continued to lead over Gomes, Mawhinney, White, Fabozzi and Moore. Teams were allowed time to make adjustments to the cars, but tires could not be changed. As is the usual case, Crew Chief Mike Keen once again made the #43 of Thorn better, with the help of the driver as well.
“I’m really not working on it. I just take the gas cap off and check the stagger”, Thorn explained. “Mike Keen does all the rest of that stuff. I like being a part of it, and I think that is a big key to our success with me and Mike and our communications being so good. It comes from both of us working together. It’s not just one or the other, but both us doing the same thing, or trying to do the same thing with the common goal of getting us to victory lane. It was a really good night and Mike made some good changes to make the car even better.”
Thorn felt the changes to the car were necessary, as the top-six were hanging in there with the Campbell Motorsports entry. That was especially true on restarts.
“Oh yah, I did have some worries about the restarts”, Thorn replied. “I think I’d have to be arrogant to not have any worries. You never know where a guy is at behind you and they were pushing us a decent amount. We weren’t going 100%, but we were going harder than we needed that early. But our car was good enough to hang around, and some of those guys maybe over-did it a little bit, or maybe didn’t quite make the same adjustments at the halfway break.”
On the restart, Thorn showed his strength by jumping to a comfortable lead. A debris caution on lap 84 found White up to third, with the restart continuing the two though six battle on the racetrack. On lap 106, White was able to finally complete the pass of Gomes, and take up chase of Thorn. With the fight for second raging, Thorn had been able to pull away from the other top runners, so White had work to do, to decrease the gap. As the field ran clean and green, White was able to hold his distance from the leader, but unable to make large advances.
White ran a patient race from the start, and methodically worked his way forward. But eventually he had to hit the “go” button as he recalled.
“I’ve got a spotter (Robert Riddering or “Sparky”) who is always in my ear. You know he never knows how to shut up”, White teased. “He tries to keep me calmed down, because he and I really need to be grounded when I am racing, because I get excited. He does a really good job in the position, and he really likes to step up and be that part. He works as the Crew Chief and worked really hard for me this weekend and every weekend. He has been my partner in crime since I was 15.”
Once White got to second, he knew he would need a caution to get to Thorn. But he felt that if the caution came out, it would have been a battle to the end, as he stated.
“I would try to shoot a lap off, every once in a while, to see if it was comparable to his. I think we were pretty comparable. You know it is all about being up on the wheel. If we would have got a yellow flag…..Derek runs hard and we run hard, and I feel like it would have been a great, great battle. I wouldn’t have given him an inch; I can guarantee that.”
With time running out, Gomes began to experience handling issues and both Mawhinney and Fabozzi were able to advance in the last couple of laps. At the lap 127 checkers, Thorn was able to hold his lead and bring home the victory. His $6,800 in winnings increased his 2020 earnings to nearly $50,000 on the season, standing at $49,300 through six events. That number is also a series record.
Thorn was thankful to his sponsors for the support he receives, to continue to run up front.
“I really want to thank my sponsors, Jim Putnum with, Power Grade Inc., Santa Maria Brewing Company, Double a Eagle Transportation, H&M Motorsports, 51 FIFTY, Race for Autism, Reeves Complete Auto Center, AP Brakes, Joes Racing Products, Swift Springs, Joiner Motorsports and Fury Race Cars.”
Linny White came home a strong second, to earn the Coleman Powersports Hard Charger Award, after advancing nine positions from 11thstarting.
White was disappointed with his qualifying effort, but pleased with their effort during the race.
“In practice, I found out that I was faster, going slower, just rolling through the corner nice and smooth”, White began. “So, I thought maybe I would carry that into qualifying, being taped up and having max grip with the tires. I thought maybe that would be the ticket. The laps felt great, but my strategy was wrong, and I let my guys down. I’m just glad I was able to redeem myself during the race.”
White continued, “We had a great car all weekend and my crew worked really hard. Without them I’m really nothing. I’m just really grateful that they came to work this weekend and that I was able to represent them the way they deserve to be represented. I really have to thank Earl (Robbins), with very little sponsorship to come and do this. He pulls his paints up in the morning and says let’s go racing boys. I race for the right person. I race for a guy who has the passion to come out and win. It’s his desire to win, and he works hard to do it. I’m grateful to be able to run for a guy like Earl Robbins.”
Jonathan Mawhinney came home a career best third, in the Sigma Performance Services Chevy. 2019 SPEARS Southwest Tour Series Rookie-of-the-Year, Tyler Fabozzi was fourth and 2009 NASCAR National Weekly Racing Series Rookie-of-the-Year Jacob Gomes hung on for fifth. 2019 SRL Champion Cole Moore was sixth followed by Irwindale Speedway star Kyle Neveau, three-time Pacific Challenge Series (PCS) winner Carlos Vieira, 2015 PCS Champion John Moore, and Shasta Speedway PCS winner Tracy Bolin.
Mawhinney’s career best finish didn’t come easy, as he battled back and forth with Linny White, Jacob Gomes, Cole Moore and Tyler Fabozzi. After a 15thplace finish in the last event, Mawhinney had a lot of fun running up front with some of the series regulars and advanced from fifth to third in the final laps. It earned him the “FLUIDYNE High Performance Cool Move of the Race”.
“It was a lot of fun and it was really good racing with them”, Mawhinney stated. “We did fall back to sixth, as the car fell off a little bit right after the halfway break. I just started saving my right front a little bit more, letting it cool off, and the car came back to me. I got a little bit of a charge with about 15 laps to go. It’s great racing with them and they raced clean. Running in the top-five is a lot easier than running mid-pack sometimes. It was good clean racing and I want to congratulate Thorn. I’d like to thank my team, SPS (Sigma Performance Services), Jim Wulfenstein, for letting us use his car, Joe Farre’, my crew, Charlie Wahl, and everyone back at the shop. Dustin here, Chris here, Parker, Chuck and Preston.”
The next event for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series is the October Classic at Kern County Raceway on October 24 and 25. The Saturday and Sunday event will feature the SRL, ARCA Menards Pro Series West, SPEARS Modified Series, Pro Late Models, and the NASCAR Street Stocks. Details for the huge event will be released shortly.
- Derek Thorn, 2. Linny White, 3. Jonathan Mawhinney, 4. Tyler Fabozzi, 5. Jacob Gomes, 6. Cole Moore, 7. Kyle Neveau, 8. Carlos Vieira, 9. John Moore, 10. Tracy Bolin, 11. Andy Allen, 12. Dean Thompson*, 13. Michael Hite*, 14. Scott Sanchez, 15. Eric Schmidt, 16. Jason Gilbert.
* Rookie-of-the-Year Contender
-SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Press Release
-Photo credit: SRL Media