Bakersfield, CA – Saturday night at Irwindale Speedway, Derek Thorn drove his Campbell Motorsports Ford to victory in the Spears Manufacturing 100 presented by Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse.
It was Thorn’s record 23rd SPEARS Southwest Tour Series victory, but his first series win at the Irwindale half-mile. Thorn, driving the same car he drove at last year’s Snowball Derby, started the afternoon by leading qualifying with a time of 17.54 seconds, at 102.599 mph, which broke his existing track record he set in 2010.
“It (the win) feels good,” Thorn said. “These guys have worked hard for this and the last time (2014) we finished second to Greg (Voigt). Our strategy paid off for us this time. It’s the best car we’ve had so far.”
Voigt of Goleta, who took over the points lead, finished just 0.477 behind Thorn with 2015 rookie leader Ryan Cansdale of Laguna Beach finishing third. With the third-place finish, Cansdale moves into second in SPEARS Southwest Tour Series championship standings behind Voigt, 619 to 589.
After Thorn drew a nine for the invert, with Parker Stephens and Blaine Rocha leading the field to the start of the 100 lap main event.
Rocha of Oakdale led the field for the first nine laps until Brandon White of Eureka used the low line to make the pass for the lead. White then stretched out his lead over Rocha and the rest of the 21-car field. On lap 25, Thorn moved into second, with White still way out front.
The caution flew on lap 32 when White got loose and up into the turn four wall. White was able to maintain control and continued to lead until the green flag waved on the ensuing restart when Thorn took over the lead, where he would stay.
A few laps later, Voigt moved into second, to set up a battle between the same two drivers who battled for the Irwindale win in 2014.
“Last year we got to the front early and were able to hold off Derek once he got to us,” stated Voigt, referring to last year’s Irwindale race. “Tonight Derek got to the lead and we would‘ve had to been really good to take the lead from him. But it was a good night us, I appreciate all the guys on the NTS team for all their hard work and for the great cars we have each race.”
Voigt will carry the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series championship lead over the summer break, and into the race at Redwood Acres Raceway.
The red flag flew on lap 72 when Ross Strmiska made hard driver’s side contact with outside retaining wall at the end of the front straightaway, while battling for sixth position. Strmiska was transported by ambulance to USC Medical Center for overnight observation and tests. Strmiska was released and is resting at his home in Manteca.
The balance of the top five at the finish were, Cansdale with his career best finish of his four series’ starts, White held onto to fourth, and Colby Potts, who moved passed Rocha and into the top five with just two laps remaining.
The SPEARS Southwest Tour Series will enjoy an eight-week break before making its second appearance at the 3/8 mile Redwood Acres Raceway on August 1st.
— Series release
— Photo credit: Sal Sigala