Thorn Capitalized on Misfortune to Secure October Classic Victory at Kern County Raceway
Bakersfield, CA – Derek Thorn finished off a near perfect SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series season Saturday night, by being declared the winner of the “Bulwark ‘FR October Classic 150” at Kern County Raceway. Thorn was proclaimed the winner when Preston Peltier was found to have to much left side weight in post-race tech. The driver of the Campbell Motorsports Toyota earned the Motor City Throwdown Challenge Bonus of $3,500 to take home $10,500 for the night and push his season earnings to $90,700 in the series. With the win he also clinched his record sixth series championship.
Preston Peltier drew first blood by setting the PFC Brakes Zero Drag Fast Time Award with a lap of 17.081 seconds on half-mile oval. 23 Super Late Models appeared after flight cancellations and illness cost the field two cars. The series ran three Qualifying Heat Races with Peltier winning the Fast Heat, made up of the fastest eight, to start on the pole for the Feature Event. Buddy Shepherd won the “Odd” Heat to line up ninth, while Jeremy Doss won the “Even” Heat to line up 10th.
The feature event started off with Peltier jumping to a quick lead, as Jacob Gomes made his way to second, under Trevor Huddleston. Farrington followed a few laps later and Thorn made quick work of the all-time Irwindale Speedway wins leader to move to fourth. Meanwhile Farrington and Gomes began a dozen lap battle between the duo, that found Farrington up to the runner-up position, for the second fast qualifier. The first caution flew for John Moore, who stopped in Turn 4 and retired. A spin for Joe Farre’, two laps later, found Thorn up to third from the preferred outside line, with Buddy Shepherd to the pits for mechanical issues. The rookie leader was able to rejoin the field before the green came back out however, although at the tail of the field.
The restart found Thorn moving by Farrington for the runner-up position, with Jeremy Doss making his way to sixth behind Gomes and Kole Raz, before a lap 33 caution for Dylan Garner and Utah driver Jeff Hillock. As the green flew again, Raz and Doss took advantage of the outside line to advance, as Peltier did the same to maintain the lead. The trio of Raz, Farrington and Doss engaged in a fierce battle for third, as by lap 50, Thorn had chased down Peltier, ducking down inside the five-time Easter Bunny winner.
As Doss worked under Farrington, just after the one-third mark, he began to pressure Raz. Meanwhile, Thorn was working the inside of Peltier, lap after lap. On lap 61 Doss completed an inside move on Raz, while Thorn continued his assault on Peltier. As the two leaders threaded their way through lapped traffic, Peltier was able to use it to his advantage. That was until lap 75, when the duo approached Carlos Vieira. Peltier went to the high side of Vieira in Turn One, but Vieira drifted up off Turn 2, giving Thorn the opportunity to get under the leader. At the halfway break Thorn crossed the line first, earning the top ranked Super Late Model racer in the nation $3,500. Doss, on the other hand, began to fade with both Raz and Gomes getting by just before the break.
The redraw at the halfway break turned up a four, putting Gomes on the pole followed by Raz, Peltier and Thorn. After a rerack for a Brandon Farrington and Andy Allen crash in Turn 1, Gomes jumped to the top spot. But that didn’t last long, as Peltier made quick work of both Raz and Gomes five laps later. Thorn was more methodical however, taking nearly 25 laps to get to second. By that point, Peltier had a three second lead. For a large portion of the second half, Thorn maintained pace, at about a three second deficit. Doss was able to move forward to third and Dan Holtz to fourth, as many contenders began to experience difficulties. Raz dropped out on lap 109, Blaine Rocha on lap 118, Jace Hansen on lap 126 and Gomes pitted, losing 7 laps, as did Trevor Huddleston. Buddy Shepherd dropped out on lap 138, giving Gomes the championship runner-up position as a result. At lap 150, Peltier took the checkered ahead of Thorn, Doss, Holtz, and Kyle Keller.
But the big story was in post-race tech, as Peltier had too much left side weight and was disqualified in the “Room of Doom”. Thorn was advanced to his 58th career victory with 2018 SRL Champion Jeremy Doss second. Dan Holtz ended a tough luck streak, finishing third. Kyle Keller ran a steady race and scored the “Rookie-of-the-Race” Award in fourth. Cale Kanke racked up his third top-five of the season in fifth. The second half of the top-10 consisted of 2020 SRL Championship runner-up Carlos Vieira, series veterans Keith Spangler and Scott Sanchez, 2015 SRL Champion Jacob Gomes and Irwindale Speedway and ARCA Menards Pro Series West star Trevor Huddleston.
Buddy Shepherd finished 11th, wrapping up the 2021 SPEARS Southwest Tour Series Rookie-of-the-Year Award, just missing out on second in the overall standings to Jacob Gomes. The next event for the series will be the “Sunrise Ford All-Star Showdown” at Irwindale Speedway. 44 Super Late Models appeared in the Covid affected event in 2021. It will kick off the 22nd season for the series, on the first weekend of February.
- Derek Thorn, 2. Jeremy Doss, 3. Dan Holtz, 4. Kyle Keller*, 5. Cale Kanke, 6. Carlos Vieira, 7. Keith Spangler, 8. Scott Sanchez, 9. Jacob Gomes, 10. Trevor Huddleston, 11. Buddy Shepherd*, 12. Jace Hansen, 13. Jack Wood, 14. Jeff Hillock, 15. Blaine Rocha, 16. Joe Farre’, 17. Kole Raz*, 18. Andy Allen, 19. Brandon Farrington*, 20. Dylan Garner*, 21. John Moore, DQ. Preston Peltier, DNS. Zach Telford
PC: Sal Sigala Jr.