BAKERSFIELD, CA- With over 50 cars from 14 states and two Canadian provinces in attendance, a trio of familiar faces established themselves as early contenders for the inaugural Winter Showdown 250 victory at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California.
After a round of time trials and a trio of 50-lap qualifiers, Derek Thorn, Bubba Pollard and Dalton Sargeant walked out of Friday's preliminary night of competition with momentum on their side.
For hometown favorite Thorn, a blistering lap of 17.223 seconds to earn top qualifier honors and a flag-to-flag victory in his qualifier is just the beginning to what he hopes will be a successful weekend for his Campbell Motorsports team.
"Getting the pole has got to be considered a highlight, here at our home track," smiled the two-time SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour champion. "It's nice to be able to perform in our own backyard and outrun guys like Bubba and Dalton who are both really good shoes.
"Tonight was all about getting some data on what this car is going to do," continued Thorn. "We haven't raced this car here yet. We learned some things, as far as getting a feel for the car, that we think will help us tomorrow."
When asked the key to victory in Saturday's 250-lap main event, it's clear Thorn has a plan in mind.
"It's going to take a lot of patience," insisted the California native. "We ran 50-laps tonight and you could already feel the car starting to tell at you, as far as the tires go. This place is not easy to pass on. It's going to take a little bit of strategy and a little bit of luck and just hope that track position falls your way at the end."
Georgia's Bubba Pollard timed in second quickest with a lap of 17.319 seconds and also led from beginning to end in his 50-lap qualifying event.
"The car was pretty good tonight," offered Pollard post-race. "It kind of took me by surprise, because I've felt as though we've been fighting a tight race car since we've been here.
"I was happy after the 50-lapper tonight, we learned some things that we can carry into tomorrow," added the 2014 Southern Super Series champion.
Wauters Motorsports representative Dalton Sargeant earned victory in the third and final 50-lap qualifier, after timing in third fastest with a lap of 17.326 seconds.
"Overall, we're really happy," explained the Florida native. "I think it's going to be a really tough race tomorrow.
"We used our 50-lap qualifier as some additional practice, and we have some changes that we want to make to the car for tomorrow."
When asked if he felt as though he has what it takes to rein supreme after 250-laps on Saturday, Sargeant's confidence in his team was evident.
"I really think we have what it takes. We've been here testing and I truly believe our hard work is going to pay off."
Fans can keep up with the inaugural Winter Showdown 250 live via Trackside Now at www.Speed51.com.
Saturday's coverage begins at 9:00 am PST.
To watch Friday’s Trackside Now replay presented by JOE’S Racing Products and Hamner Racing Engines, click here.
- Spencer Lewis, Speed51.com Correspondent
Photo Credit: Speed51.com
|Showdown Qualifier No. 1 Results|
|2||18||Jim Pettit II|
|Showdown Qualifier No. 2 Results|
|Showdown Qualifier No. 3 Results|
|8||6s||Donny St. Ours|
|14||38||Hollis Shane Thackery|