A pair of West Coast Super Late Model rivals went toe-to-toe in a slugfest Saturday night during the JM Environmental 127 presented by 51 FIFTY LTM. At the end of the night Jeremy Doss came out victorious in the battle of the west coast titans to secure the $5,000 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour victory in front of a large crowd at All American Speedway. The victory was Doss' seventh win at the facility and the most thrilling win of the bunch.
“Derek (Thorn) and I always seem to find each other on the race track,” Doss told the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series. “He makes us step our game up, and I’m sure we do the same for him, which in turn makes us both better. I’m glad we could put on such an exciting race. I think the fans really enjoyed it.”
The weekend got off to a good start for current Rookie of the Year Leader Tyler Fabozzi, as he led Friday's overall practice, as well as Saturday's final practice session. 2006 SRL Champion Eric Schmidt then flexed his muscle, setting quick time in qualifying for the 25 cars on hand. It was an automatic track record for the event of 13.193, which was run on the "Highline" configuration through turns three and four.
Schmidt would pull the coveted number one card to start on the pole, with Southern California star Linny White drawing the number two position. Jeff Bischofberger, Blaine Rocha, Tyler Fabozzi, Jesse Love, Jeremy Doss and Derek Thorn rounded out the re-draw participants.
Schmidt jumped to the early lead over White to begin the hotly contested event. Thorn began his charge early, as he was up to second before the lap 25 mark. Doss, meanwhile, engaged in a more patient strategy, as he was still mired back in seventh prior to a lap 33 caution. The restart found Schmidt and Thorn battling side by side for multiple laps before Thorn was able to edge into the lead.
The event took a turn for the worse for 2006 SRL champion Schmidt after the next caution flew for a spin by Craig Raudman, who was navigating a three-wide avoidance of a slowing Blaine Rocha. On the restart, Schmidt regained the lead but Thorn battled back to wrestle to top spot back again. As Schmidt settled onto Thorn’s back bumper, a chain reaction incident sent Schmidt spinning off the front bumper of Linny White. Both were relegated to the rear before eventually reappearing back in the top-five near the end of the race.
That occurrence set up a race-long battle between Thorn, the four-time SRL Champ, and Doss, the 2018 champion. Seemingly, each restart would lead to the championship duo swapping positions, with 2015 champion Jacob Gomes patiently waiting in third. By lap 110, Schmidt had recovered to fourth and the four SRL champions engaged in a game of cat and mouse.
That ended on lap 119, as Schmidt pulled to the infield with overheating issues to bring out the final caution of the night. On the single file restart, by rule, Thorn led Doss, Gomes, 2018 Rookie of the Year Cole Moore and the resurging Linny White, with Colorado’s Jace Hansen just outside the top-five.
Thorn got a good restart but couldn’t put any distance on Doss. As the top trio exited turn four, Doss got into the back of Thorn and pulled alongside the two-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Champion. One lap later, Doss would clear Thorn for the lead. But by lap 122, Thorn was able to repay the favor and pulled alongside down the front stretch. Doss was able to hold off the charge in turns one and two, however, and lead the remaining laps to the finish, despite constant pressure.
Gomes was able to pull to the inside of Thorn on the final lap, but Thorn was up to the challenge and completed the race in second. Cole Moore held on to fourth ahead of Linny White, Jace Hansen, John Moore, Rookie of the Year contender Tyler Fabozzi, Jeff Bischofberger and NASCAR Xfinity winner Justin Marks, making his SPEARS Southwest Tour Series debut.
Doss was excited in victory lane after picking up his ninth SRL victory, which ties him with Altamont Speedway (CA) legend Jeff Anthony.
“We definitely had to work for that one, but that is short track racing for you,” Doss explained. “I think we all love that. It was tough on the restarts, because you would pick the outside, and sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn’t. It was back and forth on that. He would get by me, and I felt like if he was in front of me, I could get back to him and visa-versa.
“On that last restart, I gave it all I could and I felt like he checked up a little bit, and I kind of got into him once, and that is short track racing and I think he knows that. I felt like in (turns) three and four I could roll the corner a little bit better than him. I felt like he was a little better in (turns) one and two, but I was better in three and four.”
Thorn chased Doss hard over the last seven laps, but the current Lake County resident was able to fend off the charge while anticipating a little payback.
“I felt like I owed him already, but I knew it was coming back to me,” Doss stated. “He got into me three, four, five times. We were just able to get drive up on him, and then the 16 (Jacob Gomes) was able to get up under him and we were able to drive away the last lap.”
Doss was thankful in victory lane for the team’s weekend effort, as the Kulwicki Driver Development Program participant scored the program’s first 2019 victory.
“I just can’t thank the JD Motorsports crew enough for all their hard work this weekend. We never gave up and we came out on top. I’d also like to thank Earnest Performance, Senneker Performance, the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, S&S Enterprise, Horsepower Project, PFC Brakes, Pacific Export, Speedy Signs, Swift Springs and Pit Stop USA. “
Jacob Gomes, the 2015 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series Champion, made his 92nd career start a good one, as the Sunnyvalley Smoked Meats Team continues to make improvements to their program. The third-place effort follows up a sixth-place at Irwindale Speedway, giving the team momentum heading to The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV) in three weeks.
“This morning we didn’t have a good car in practice, but we picked it up in qualifying and ended up ninth,” Gomes recalled. “We didn’t know how the car was going to be, so I just hung out and waited and capitalized as much as I could without making a mess. I was there at the end, and we had something for Thorn there at the end. I had worked hard all night to get to third though, and I didn’t want to crash him for second and give everything up. It was a good night for points, and we’ll go to the next one.”
Thorn was disappointed after the event and declined comment but thanked his Campbell Motorsport and 51 FIFTY Energy Drink Team for their efforts throughout the weekend.
The next event for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series will be the “Retro Custom Metals 150” from The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. $10,000 will be up for grabs for the winner, thanks to David “Homie” Mulcahy.
Official Results: 1. Jeremy Doss, 2. Derek Thorn, 3. Jacob Gomes, 4. Cole Moore, 5. Linny White, 6. Jace Hansen, 7. John Moore, 8. Tyler Fabozzi*, 9. Jeff Bischofberger, 10. Justin Marks, 11. Kyle Neveau, 12. Matthew Wendt*, 13. Jason Gilbert, 14. Scott Sanchez, 15. Tracy Bolin, 16. Michael Hite*, 17. Jesse Love*, 18. Eric Schmidt, 19. Eric Nascimento Jr.*, 20. Dylan Lupton, 21. Bobby Hodges, 22. Craig Raudman, 23. Jack Wood, 24. Mike Beeler, 25. Blaine Rocha
* Rookie of the Year Contender
Unofficial Points (Top Five): 1. Jeremy Doss 340, 2. Jacob Gomes 315, 3. Jeff Bischofberger 308, 4. Derek Thorn 304, 5. Jace Hansen 296
Rookie of the Race: Tyler Fabozzi
Coleman Powersports Hard Charger Award: Jace Hansen
FLUIDYNE High Performance Move of the Race: Jeremy Doss
PFC Brakes Zero Drag Pole Award: Eric Schmidt
-Story by: Kevin Peters, SRL
-Photo credit: Michele Martin