In a wild and crazy night at All American Speedway (CA), and Derek Thorn came out with an improbable spin and win victory Saturday night in the “JM Environmental Inc. 150 presented by 51 FIFTY”. The win was series record triumph #46 for the four-time series champion, and followed a trip to the back, with what turned out to be a lucky number 13 lap run to the finish. A finish which ended 35 laps shy of the scheduled distance, on a hot 109-degree day. It was a great end-result for his team, as the team owner’s family suffered tragedy over the last week.
“I guess the feeling of this win hasn’t settled in yet”, Thorn admitted. “The biggest thing is that my thoughts and prayers are with the Campbell and Patrick family. I’m thinking about them and praying for them. This win is for them!”
Thorn got the ball rolling by setting the “PFC Brakes Zero Drag Fast Time Award” over the 22-car field. Thorn was followed by Linny White, Brandon Farrington, Eric Schmidt, and John Moore. Less than a ¼ second covered the top-17 drivers and all but two were within 1/3rdof a second. The field was set with a redraw of the top eight. Tyler Fabozzi drew the #1 Card, with Cole Moore, Derek Thorn, Eric Schmidt, Kyle Neveau, Linny White, Brandon Farrington and John Moore rounding out the redraw participants.
Upon Noel Dawson’s green flag, Thorn jumped from third to first by lap two, with 2019 SRL Champ Cole Moore dropping to fourth in the outside groove. A quick yellow on lap four, was the first of many to come, when Jonathan Mawhinney got into the plastic barrels lining the bottom of turns 3 and 4. The restart was short lived, however, as Trevor Huddleston had a throttle hang going into Turn 3 on lap eight. The scary incident found Huddleston climbing the wall and nearly flipping. The Agoura Hills, CA driver got out and walked away uninjured, but his Racecar Factory Super Late Model suffered major damage.
The subsequent restart found Thorn leading, but Schmidt and White were making their way to the front, both clearing Fabozzi on lap 13 for second and third. The duo both chased Thorn, through additional yellows to the lap 50 scheduled break, with White appearing to have the stronger car. Cole Moore also got around Fabozzi and sat fourth in front of the 2019 Rookie-of-the-Year.
The second segment got underway with Schmidt getting around Thorn on the restart. That lead was short-lived however, as Thorn retuned the favor to lead lap 56, before a spin by first-time starter Zach Telford on lap 58. The restart found White grabbing the runner-up position from Schmidt as Jacob Gomes would also clear the ill-handling 05 machine of Schmidt on lap 72. Another spin by Telford on lap 78 found White grabbing the lead from Thorn, but Thorn fought back to take the lead on lap 80. A debris caution on lap 89, would end up changing the complexion of the race, and eliminating several of the strong contenders to Thorn’s reign.
Upon that restart, the inside line got jacked up, sending Jacob Gomes spinning after contact from behind by Fabozzi. Gomes, Fabozzi, and Mawhinney got the worst of it, with John Moore also involved. A strong Gomes effort was slowed, suffering left rear damage and the subsequent removal of his rear windshield. Fabozzi and Mawhinney were eliminated and the field took the scheduled lap 100 break early.
At the break, an overheating car for White, also led to an overheated driver, and Preston Peltier was tabbed to replace White for the remainder of the event. The reshuffled restart order found Thorn leading Cole Moore, Eric Schmidt, Carlos Vieira, who had started 16th, and Kyle Neveau.
Upon resumption of the race, Schmidt spun to the infield with no yellow. Peltier dropped out with motor issues, in the Linny White car, and Thorn resumed his lead, with Cole Moore following. The drama ramped up on lap 102, when Thorn spun by himself in Turn 2. As the caution was displayed, Thorn headed to the pits with a suspected flat tire. Oil was then discovered all the way around the track, which was caused by an oil line coming loose on the damaged car of Zach Telford. Kyle Neveau was also sent to the pits from third, with a suspected leak, running the same #71 as Telford. Upon his return, he was placed at the end of the lead lap cars. Thorn also returned with no evidence of a flat tire, restarting in the 11thposition.
This shuffled restart found Cole Moore leading Carlos Vieira, Tracy Bolin, Andy Allen and a resurging Jacob Gomes, as the 10:00pm curfew loomed over the field. Vieira got a great start in the upper groove and cleared Moore by lap 103. Moore fought back however, and the two drivers made contact several times, with Moore squeezing inside Vieira down the back stretch on multiple occasions. On lap 108 Moore got inside Vieira again, and contact down the back stretch caused Vieira to get out of shape, as Moore backed off. Entering Turn 3 however, Vieira backed out a little early to regain control, with Moore getting into the Livingston, CA driver, causing him to spin. The incident relegated Moore to the rear by rule, and advanced Tracy Bolin to the lead. It was heartbreak for the two California Central Valley racers, looking for their first Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series wins.
During the action proceeding the yellow, Thorn had made his way up to fourth, taking advantage of some wild racing behind the leaders. The moves earned him the Fluidyne Performance “Cool Move of the Race”. That yellow was just the ticket Thorn needed to cash in the $5,000 winners check, thanks to Performance Friction Brakes. The restart found Thorn motoring away from Bolin and the field, as John Moore and Gomes both got by Bolin to finish two-three at the lap 115 checkered.
“The car was awesome the first part of the race”, as Thorn recollected the incident. “The last break we made a couple of changes. We went back out and I would have sworn we had a flat tire. The car was just all over the place. I ended up losing it getting into Turn 1. I tried to go a little higher, to accommodate the car, thinking it was a tire. But I ended up getting into more oil, come to find out, by looking at the grease sweep. I ended up losing it in one, and I ended up being the guy to cause the caution, to find out there was oil on the racetrack.”
Rookie-of-the-Race Dean Thompson was able to get by Bolin to score his career best finish, while Bolin was able to hold on to fifth to earn the Coleman Powersports “Hard Charger Award”. Sixth went to 2019 SRL Champ Cole Moore followed by Kyle Neveau, 2011 winner Bobby Hodges, 2005 Champion Eric Schmidt and rookie Zach Telford.
For John Moore, it was his second top-five finish in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series competition. It was also a career best in the series for the veteran racer. The Granite Bay, CA driver was excited after the race, and he was not afraid to let his emotions show.
“It was a freaking Saturday night short track double get down throwdown, door banging Super Late Model race”, as Moore described the evening. “Big power, big tires and everybody had a little taste of liberty tonight, and we were exercising it.”
Moore has been looking for finishes in the series just like this one. He feels that this is just an indication of were the team should be, as he described.
“In my mind I should be winning every time, so I feel I just ended up where I belong. I’m happy to be there and expectations were on par and I’m looking forward to the next big show! The biggest challenge for me tonight, was backing the car into the corner at Mach 10,” the veteran racer jested.
Jacob Gomes was also very pleased with his results. With a car nearly waded up on lap 92. The incident could have ended his night, but the crew went to work at the break and got Gomes back out on track. Gomes could only think of what could have been.
“We had a really good run going, and on the restart, we ended up getting run over, Gomes recalled. “I don’t know exactly what happened, but it was a really hard-fought night. To get third was really cool. We had second at least, when Derek (Thorn) made his way back up through the field. But I don’t know, maybe we could have held him off, if we didn’t get torn up so bad. It was a pretty good night.”
For the second straight year at All American Speedway, Gomes was involved in a battle for the second position over the closing laps. Last year the battle was with Derek Thorn, while this year it was John Moore. The 2015 series champion exercised patience in both instances, choosing a good finish over ruffling some feathers.
“It was a good battle”, Gomes replied. “ I knew if I used him up, I’d have to race him again anyways. We already had a hard night. I didn’t need to wreck him to get second. We got a third and we will come back to get’em again.”
The next scheduled event for the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series will be a return to All American Speedway on September 26th. The “JM Environmental 127 presented by 51 FIFTY” will be Round #6 of the 2020 season. The drivers and teams will be hoping the late September event will find much cooler weather and maybe a little less heat on the track as well.
- Derek Thorn, 2. John Moore, 3. Jacob Gomes, 4. Tracy Bolin, 5. Dean Thompson*, 6. Cole Moore, 7. Kyle Neveau, 8. Bobby Hodges, 9. Eric Schmidt, 10. Zach Telford*, 11. Carlos Vieira, 12. Andy Allen, 13. Linny White, 14. Tyler Fabozzi, 15. Jonathan Mawhinney, 16. Joey Iest*, 17. Buddy Shepherd*, 18. Brandon Farrington*, 19. Scott Sanchez, 20. Blaine Rocha, 21. Michael Hite*, 22. Trevor Huddleston.
-SRL SPEARS Southwest Tour Series Press Release
-Photo credit: Sal Sigala, Jr.