Derek Thorn has never experienced anything like the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing before. The Lakeport, California native and former NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion arrived in Florida earlier this week in preparation for a busy stretch that begins on Friday, February 12 and includes 14 races in nine days.
“Having the opportunity to do this with the Jett family means a lot,” Thorn told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “This is a bucket list race that I’ve always wanted to do and it’s great to be able to do it with a high-caliber team like these guys. Butch VanDoorn is going to crew chief the car and we’re hoping for some good success.”
Throughout his racing career, Thorn has been a driver known for his ambitious racing schedules. Just last year he bounced back and forth between California and Florida to compete in Late Model events. But never has he tackled a task similar to racing 14 times in nine days.
“I think the key is to ask a lot of questions,” Thorn said when asked how he’ll approach the busy stretch. “Butch has run this event a lot and the Jett family has run it a handful of years. I think it’s one of those things as a driver where you just have to have open ears and be open minded. There’s a lot to running a couple races, and there’s a lot to running the entirety of the event.
“There’s probably going to be some late nights and early mornings, and I can imagine if you have some bad luck early in the week that it can make for a very long week. You’ve got to be kind of optimistic, but also cautious at the same time hoping you can keep the fenders on it and run up towards the front.”
Despite a busy schedule that may become hectic at times throughout the two week period, Thorn is extremely thankful to have the opportunity to race during the early part of February. As a driver he believes that the additional seat time will help him tremendously leading up to other big events later in the year.
“It helps a lot to be able to get your feet wet early in the season like this,” the former SRL Southwest Tour champion said. “A lot of schedules for most divisions don’t begin until April so to be able to get behind the wheel in early February is great. Going out to the Winter Showdown at the end of February will be great to already have a handful of races under your belt. It’s a huge benefit for a driver to be able to get back behind the wheel. There’s no better practice than to be behind the wheel.”
Thorn, who has recorded three straight top-10 finishes in the prestigious Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway, plans to approach the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing in a way similar to the way he approaches the Derby each year. He plans to take it one day and one lap at a time as he works with his team to achieve success.
“I’ve never worked with Butch before and this is a brand new VanDoorn chassis that we’ll be running in the Super Late division,” Thorn explained. “There’s a lot of new things for us to work ourselves through so I think it’s just staying open-minded and taking it one day at a time. I feel fortunate before we even get there and look forward to just taking it one day at a time and hope for the best.”
Another aspect of the week that Thorn is thankful for is the live broadcast that Speed51.com will produce for FansChoice.TV, as well as the NASCAR Home Tracks Race Central Live coverage powered by Speed51. With most of his family and friends being unable to make the trip from California, the live coverage will allow them to watch him race throughout the nine days.
“That’s awesome to have a company like Speed51.com and to have the staff that they have to come cover an event like that,” said Thorn. “My family and friends in Bakersfield and Lake County and all the people I know will be able to watch. It’s really cool and what the guys do at Speed51.com is awesome.”
For more information on the 50th annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, visit www.newsmyrnaspeedway.org.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com