Thorn Scores First Career Win at KCRPadmin
BY MIKE GRIFFITH
The Bakersfield Californian
Thorn rids himself of “monkey” with victory at KCRP
The frustration Derek Thorn has had with Kern County Raceway Park came to an end on Saturday night.
Thorn shattered the track record in qualifying (the old mark was his as well), then went on to do something he had never done: Win a Spears Southwest Tour race on his home track.
Thorn took the lead for good from fellow Bakersfield driver David Mayhew on the 24th lap and pulled away for a 2.9-second victory over Mayhew in the DC’s RV Center 100 on the paved half-mile oval.
“All of us have been working hard to get this win,” Thorn said. “We live 20 miles from here. This was on top of our list.”
Thorn came into the race with 21 wins in 51 Southwest Tour races, but a pair of runner-ups were his best finishes in three previous outings at KCRP.
“Man, all the talk about us finishing second here, it was nice to get the monkey off our backs,” Thorn said.
It was the second straight win for Thorn, who started defense of his series championship with a win last month in Madera.
Mayhew took the lead on the 11th lap, and Thorn moved into second close behind. Thorn stalked Mayhew for several laps, trying to get by several times on the low side. He did so on lap 22, but Mayhew edged back in front on the next lap.
Thorn was inches ahead on lap 24 then slid in front of Mayhew on the next circuit. From that point on, it was all Thorn.
Greg Voigt was third, followed by Bobby Hodges and Brandon White.
Thorn ran a lap of 17.397 seconds in qualifying. His previous record was 17.521 seconds.
Earlier in the evening, Bakersfield’s Brandon Weaver, the defending champion in the Legends series, backed up his vow to have fun this season after driving to victory in the 30-lap Legends feature.
Weaver did several spins in his racer before climbing on top of the car and taking a bow.
A sophomore at Liberty High, Weaver qualified No. 1 but started fifth in the 16-car field in an inverted start. He moved into second, behind Codi Winchil, on the second lap and waited.
Winchil was slowed in the 24th lap by lap cars. Weaver pounced, dived low and came away with the lead down the backstretch.
He then pulled away over the final six laps to get the win.
“I saw the lapped car coming up and knew it would be a little trouble to get around them, so I just waited and got my opportunity,” Weaver said.
Winchil finished second, Timmy Mangini was third, Garret Fine was fourth and Eric Olson took fifth.
In the SRL S-2 feature, Cory Elliott of Bakersfield took the lead with eight laps to go and went on to win.
“It’s awesome,” said Elliott, 15, in victory lane. “This win is so awesome. I’m so glad we could do this.”
Leader Johnny Butler spun 16 laps into the race, and Elliott, who qualified No. 1, was second behind Dylan Garner when the race restarted. Elliott dived under Garner in turn 2 on lap 27 and had the lead going into turn 3.
“Gary (Collins, his crew chief) said you need to be patient and wait for it. As soon as they bobble, go for it,” Elliott said.
Johnny White made short work of the six-car Spec Mod field, taking the lead on the fifth lap and finishing 11 seconds ahead of runner-up Kevin Calahan. Eric Brust was third.
Several cars were heavily damaged in the season-opener three weeks ago. White won that race, but his car pretty much had to be rebuilt.
White credited car builder Jeff Schrader and his crew for giving him a fast car, but he won’t be making every race.
“I’m going to miss a couple of races to run the K&N West Series,” he said.