After missing last year’s 50th Annual Snowball Derby, west coast racing star Derek Thorn will double down in his return to Five Flags Speedway for the 51st Annual Snowball Derby this weekend.
The Lakeport, California driver has been dominant in his racing on the west coast this season, most notably capturing the 2018 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship last month. Now, he will take his California star power to run against the best in country in the Snowflake 100 (Pro Late Models) and Snowball Derby (Super Late Models).
The four-time SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour champion has made only a few starts in a Late Model in 2018, capturing four victories on the SRL circuit.
Thorn and the No. 43 Campbell Motorsports team made the move to Fury Chassis in the offseason, which has led them to participate in both marquee events at Five Flags.
“Five Flags is a unique facility and the more seat time I can get, the better I feel I’ll be,” Thorn told Speed51.com. “As a team, having both cars allows us to try more things in a shorter period of time, and if we find something that works it’ll usually translate to the other car as well. It’s a long way back there. Plus, we really like the guys at Fury, so we bought a Pro Late Model.”
Thorn is no stranger to big races and the Snowball Derby as he makes his sixth attempt at the Derby and second in the Snowflake. However, this will be his first time doing double duty for the Campbell Motorsports team.
With a best Snowball Derby finish of third in 2015, the two-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion is now looking to apply what he learned during his previous trips.
“Snowball Derby week is an emotional rollercoaster with the stressful peak happening on qualifying day,” Thorn stated. “Guess the biggest thing I learned from my other Derby trips is staying focused on trying to make your program the best it can possibly be and roll with the punches on the days things aren’t going as well as you want them to.”
The 32-year-old veteran is aware that his time behind the wheel of a Late Model could end at any time, but he’s taking every opportunity he can with a strong ownership and team behind him.
“I’m super fortunate and thankful to be given this opportunity by Byron Campbell. You never know if you’ll get the chance to come back, so trying to take a deep breath and take it all in from time to time is important too.”
When Thorn looks forward to the Snowball Derby and what he enjoys the most about it, the answer is simple.
“Getting to compete against some of the best teams and drivers in the country. It’s our Daytona 500,” Thorn commented.
Even though his time has been limited in a Late Model in 2018, the move to Fury Chassis has resulted in success. Thorn will now join a much larger contingent of Fury cars at the Derby including Derek Griffith, Harrison Burton and others.
With the support from Fury, Thorn hopes that it will help with their success.
“Mike Keen can make any car go fast, with the additional help and support Fury has brought, that really gives us confidence that we can squeeze every bit of speed possible out of these new Furys.”
Thorn is coming off a big win with the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour at Kern County Raceway. Now he will look to take his Bakersfield, California team to Pensacola, Florida to capture two of the biggest Late Model prizes of the year.
Thorn heads into Snowball Derby week with many mixed emotions.
“It’s a mixture of nerves going into this week,” he said. “So much goes into making this trip behind the scenes and it all boils down to this. Without everyone’s help and support it wouldn’t be possible. As a team, we’re going to do our damnedest to perform to the best of our abilities and hope for some Lady Luck along the way.”
Race fans unable to attend the 51st Annual Snowball Derby in person will be able to watch a pay-per-view broadcast all week long on Speed51.com. Five-day video tickets can be purchased now for $74.99 ($35 savings) to watch all the action. Click here to purchase your video ticket today.
The 51st Annual Snowball Derby will take place on Wednesday, November 28 through Sunday, December 2 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL. For more information regarding the event, visit Snowball Central presented by Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants.
-Story by: Jeremy Anders, Speed51.com West Coast Editor – Twitter: @Janders2115
-Photo credit: Speed51.com