While the SRL Winter Showdown and Kern County Raceway Park (CA) are still young in the short track world, they have become instant classics for all who have attended the past couple seasons. It is a sentiment that is especially strong for the teams on the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series roster who race for points at Kern twice during the regular season, including three-time Southwest Tour champion and local favorite Derek Thorn.
“We always look forward to the Showdown. It’s in our backyard, it’s a track we’ve always done well at, and to have event like this back in Bakersfield is something people have put a lot of time, effort and energy to,” Thorn told Speed51.com. “It’s neat to have nearby and see so many great drivers and teams for all over the country come upon this track for one race and race them for $30,000.”
In the first two editions of the Winter Showdown, Thorn has started both race weekends strong, starting from the pole the last two seasons, but has been unable to retain the top spot at the end of both events. In 2015 he finished the day in third and fell out early with a mechanical failure in 2016 while Georgia driver Bubba Pollard found victory lane on both occasions.
While local circles have been eager to have one of their own West Coast locals take the top prize, the only pressure Thorn is feeling is the usual that he and his team place upon themselves.
“We put plenty of pressure on ourselves as a team to go out, be fast, and run well. It’s discouraging, we’ve run so well at most 'open' shows and not been able to seal the deal. We’ve finished second and third in almost all the big races we’ve attended. It’s a matter of putting it together and taking it a day at a time. These guys in the shop, Mike Keene and everybody on the Campbell Motorsports team put a bunch of work into our program at each and every race we go to. It’s why we put so much pressure on ourselves.”
If there is any big time show in which Thorn can finally breakthrough, it is most likely the Winter Showdown. Not only has Kern become a home track for him and the No. 43 Campbell team, it has been a place of success in the racing months on the Southwest Tour, with the team winning the last four points races at the half-mile.
“It’s not a bad deal. Kern is definitely a different facility, but with it being in our backyard it’s nice to be able to have our stuff as good as it is there. It’s good to compete against a lot of good guys and have the home field advantage.”
The Showdown has become a great tradition for Thorn and Campbell Motorsports, a chance to go against the best in front of their home fans and cutting loose once more before the rigors of the racing season, but it is also turned into an opportunity to take some momentum forward as Thorn chases his fourth Southwest Tour championship.
“It’s a little of both. You've got to attack it one race at a time. The Winter Showdown has a big circle around it for us at Campbell Motorsports and we want to take it in and do everything we can to put our best foot forward and come out with the best piece possible. The Showdown is our best showcase as a team. You do well and it’s an ability to gain momentum on the season to come.”
If you cannot make it to Kern County Raceway Park for the 3rd Annual Winter Showdown, you can see both nights of racing Friday, February 10 and Saturday, February 11 right here on Speed51.com. Click here to purchase your live pay-per-view video ticket today.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo