The Inaugural SUNOCO Driven Challenge is Down to Two Driversadmin
Bakersfield, CA – The champion of the 2012 SUNOCO Driven Challenge will be crowned this weekend at the season finale of the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Just two drivers, Derek Thorn, 26 of Bakersfield, CA and Jim Pettit II, 48 of Prunedale, CA have a shot at the SUNOCO Driven Challenge championship and a test with Joe Gibbs Racing.
The Sunoco Driven Challenge created a format to rank drivers from five of the nation’s top short track series in a point’s structure that will award the champion a test with Joe Gibbs Racing on December 12th. The five participating series for 2012 include; the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series, PASS North, PASS South, ARCA/CRA, and the ASA Midwest Tour Series. Thorn and Pettit both of the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series will also be competing for their respective series title this weekend.
Pettit, one of the true veterans of west coast short track racing with fourteen NASCAR track and series championships in his career, was twice voted the Motor Sports Press Association Driver of the Year, and is a two-time and defending SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series champion.
“This is a great program for our series to be part of,” stated Pettit. “Anytime drivers on the west coast get recognition from the industry it’s a real positive for everyone. I know the younger drivers in our series see the SUNOCO Driven Challenge as a great opportunity to possibly further their careers and they’re right. It’s a great opportunity anytime you can meet people who are part of an organization like Joe Gibbs Racing, and get a chance to work with them as they will with the test session in December. Derek has a pretty big lead on us, but our team never gives up so we’ll see how it ends up.” Pettit added.
Thorn, who drives full-time in both the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series and the K&N Pro Series West, holds the point lead for both the SUNOCO Driven Challenge and SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series over Pettit entering this weekend. Thorn has 38 wins in 169-career pavement racing starts. At age 20, Thorn relocated to Cambridge WI, and competed in the K&N East Series and ASA Late Model Challenge Series. Before returning to California, Thorn had wins at Music City Motorplex and Slinger Super Speedway, and scored top fives at the Milwaukee Mile, Lacrosse, Nashville Speedway, Hawkeye Downs, ORP and Pensacola. Thorn, in his third full season in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series, has six series wins in 2012 and holds the championship lead. He had two wins this season in the K&N Pro Series West where he finished third in the championship.
“The SUNOCO Driven Challenge puts the SRL and the drivers from the other four series in the national spotlight,” stated Thorn. “Any program that can showcase the talent of the nation’s top short track drivers is a great deal. I commend Joe Gibbs Driven and SUNOCO for putting this program together. If I get the opportunity for the test session, I really look forward to working with the people at JGR.”
The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will host the 2012 finale of the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series this weekend to determine which driver, Pettit or Thorn, will get the opportunity to test with JGR. The 154-lap race at The Bullring will also decide who will be the 2012 champion of the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series.