Derek Thorn and his Campbell Motorsports team are ready for a challenge this weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. The California-based driver and team will be making the trip across the country to compete in the 32nd Annual All American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
Thorn has two previous starts in the All American 400 with a second-place finish during his first attempt at the race in 2006. For Thorn, it is a return to a track that is one of his all-time favorite race tracks, and an event that is special for the Lakeport, CA born driver.
“We love running those big races. There is a mental list for myself such as the All American 400, Snowball Derby, Winchester 400, Winter Showdown and about four or five other marque events that a team dreams to run,” Thorn told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Coming from California, it is awesome to have a car owner like Byron Campbell that wants to run not only the Derby, but the All American 400. Byron came to me, kind of late in the game, and asked if I wanted to run with him in the 400.
“I had an opportunity to run with Kurt Jett, but they were great and allowed me the chance to drive with Byron. I am very thankful to the Jett family for the opportunity I have had to drive for them. They have been awesome to work with, but I imagine, for this event, that we will have a very friendly rivalry between the 9 (Jett Motorsports) and the 43 (Campbell Motorsports).”
Even though it is the team’s first visit to Nashville, Thorn feels that with the team’s success in the past, a good finish is a good probability. He has six top-five finishes and ten top-10 finishes in 14 starts involving some of the biggest short track races in the country.
“You have to be cautiously optimistic, very similar to the Derby, when you have a team running there for the first time,” Thorn said. “You have to hope that you can get sufficient practice time. In Nashville, you have to fight the weather. We will just have to take it one lap at a time and hope that (crew chief) Mike Keen will have sufficient time to work with the car and for both of us to get acclimated to the track and the tires.”
With the return to a 400-lap feature for the Super Late Models, Thorn feels it will be a challenge for him and his team.
“For our team, and I am assuming all teams, it will be a challenge. It’s a unique format that I have never been accustomed to running,” Thorn stated. “It will definitely be the longest race of my career. I have run the Derby, but to run an extra 100 laps, in the beginning of October when it is hot and humid, will be a test of drivers, a test of crews, and a test of equipment. 400 laps will be a challenge. It is one thing, as racers, that we always want a challenge and to push ourselves. As a team, the Campbell Motorsports crew wants to push ourselves. Win, lose or draw, we will come home with a feather in our cap knowing that we have done our best.”
Thorn’s car owner, Byron Campbell, will be bringing his Campbell Motorsports, Surface Pumps Inc. entry across the country for the second time in less than a year. Campbell has two main objectives when it comes to the All American 400 and several reasons for making the 2,000 mile trek from Bakersfield, CA to Nashville. He will obviously be hoping to win the $16,000 winner’s share of the purse, but he is also looking to bring more attention and exposure to big event racing on the West Coast.
“We always have high expectations, but this is a great field”, Campbell told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We’ll go and give it our best shot. We really look forward to getting a chance to compete against the best Late Model drivers in the country! We also hope to get some of these guys out West for the Winter Showdown (at Kern County Raceway).”
West Coast fans unable to make the trip to Music City USA for the All American 400 can watch the race live via a pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com. Live video tickets for the event can be purchased today by clicking here.
The 32nd Annual All American 400 weekend kicks off on Saturday, October 1 with qualifying for Pro and Super Late Models. The 400-lap Super Late Model race and 100-lap Pro Late Model race will take place on Sunday, October 2.
For more information on the All American 400 and the Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, visit www.fairgroundsspeedwaynashville.com.
-By Kevin Peters, Speed51.com West Coast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Derek Thorn Twitter