Derek Thorn is our guest on Fan4Racing NASCAR & Race Talk, Monday, February 13, 2017 at 8:40 pm ET. Call 929-477-1790 or tweet @Fan4RacingSite or @Sal_Sigala with any questions or comments during our LIVE broadcast.
In front of a packed house at Kern County Raceway this weekend, local Bakersfield, CA resident, Derek Thorn dominated all 250 laps of the SRL Southwest Touring Series’ Third Annual Winter Showdown, bringing home a $30,000 bonus for the win. After taking the pole in qualifying, Thorn led every lap in the première Super Late Model event that included big name drivers such as NASCAR’s Kyle Busch and Erik Jones as well as the Showdown’s winner the last two years, Bubba Pollard.
Thorn has traveled across the country as far as Pensacola, FL to compete in their Snowball Derby, and other première Super Late Model events including all three years at his home track of Kern County Raceway in the SRL’s Winter Showdown, dreaming of victory.
“We’ve had a lot of seconds, a lot of thirds at a lot of places,” said Thorn, who moved to Bakersfield ten years ago. “To be able to come here and finish it off in Bakersfield. I met my wife here, Bryon and Carol Campbell gave me a great, great opportunity to drive for them. To take home the win it means a lot to me.
“I’m really proud of (the team) as much as anything else. There’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears behind the scenes for (crew chief) Mike Keen and everybody at the shop. This one’s for them and this one’s for Bakersfield and I’m glad we got to keep the 30 grand here locally.”
Finishing second was Donnie Wilson from Oklahoma City, followed by NASCAR drivers, Kyle Busch third and Erik Jones in fourth. Another Bakersfield driver Willie Allen rounded out the top-five finishers. Finishing in sixth was Bubba Pollard who won the first two Winter Showdown events.
No one could get past Thorn after he chose the outside position on the front row and powered his Campbell Motorsports No. 43 into a lead he kept for all 250 laps. But keeping the lead was not an easy task against tough competitors like Busch, Jones and Pollard.
“Just try not to goof off,” Thorn said when asked about his late-race strategy. “I was looking back in my mirror and I was like, those are three of the best short track, if not the best racers in the country — and maybe the world itself — and I just tried not to mess up. Mike gave me a perfect car, I just tried not to goof it up.”
All three Late-Model stars – Busch, Jones and Pollard – had their chance at overtaking Thorn throughout the race, but it was the 2016 Southern Super Series champion Donnie Wilson who challenged for the lead late in the race. In an intense battle with Jones to take over second, Wilson then chased down the leader, but ran out of time and laps for his chance to take the lead from Thorn.
Standing in Victory Lane at Kern County Raceway and thinking back on the race he’d just won, Thorn reflected on the significance of his victory.
“The largest and best one I’ve ever got in my life.”
The next SRL Southwest Touring Series event is at Irwindale Speedway on March 25th.