ROSEVILLE, California — Lakeport's Derek Thorn drove the Superior Crankshaft/ Eibach Springs Camry to its first victory of the season Saturday night in the second event of the 2011 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series at All American Speedway in Roseville, California. Thorn powered to the front of the field early in the World's Champion Hand Cleaner 140 to take home the $4000 win which includes the Superior Crankshaft winner's bonus of $1000.
"Bringing the Camry home in first place the second race into the year is awesome for Superior Crankshaft, Sigma Engineering and Joiner Motorsports. Our team has been working hard in the off season. We made some adjustments after Vegas and the strength of our Joiner Motorsports program is showing" said Thorn.
The.333 mile All American Speedway in Roseville is one of the most action packed tracks on the SPEARS SRL tour. Its tight configuration makes for close, competitive racing that often results in drivers trading paint to jockey for position as lapped traffic becomes a factor quickly. For Thorn, the task looked like a cake walk as he took the lead early and sailed around the All American oval aboard the Superior Crankshaft #26 Toyota without incident leading 127 of the 140 lap feature to take home the team's first victory in their first full season together and to give Toyota its first ever victory in the SRL Tour.
So far, the number three has been the magic number for Thorn in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour. At the end of the 2010 racing season he finished third in the series point standings. In the recent opener at Vegas he finished in third place. On Saturday he clocked the third fastest time in practice and then qualified third for the World's Champion Hand Cleaner 140.
"Starting third makes my job a lot easier to make it to the front," said Thorn. "What I didn't expect was how hard it was to get around lapped traffic. I think I had to avoid six or more spins in front of me. Joiner and Franchimone (spotters) got me thru the wrecks and I brought the car home unscathed. It would have been fun to see the track stay green; our car was so good on the long runs."
At the waving of the green flag Saturday night, the initial lead went to Zane Lovelace of Roseville as Thorn wasted little time in moving into the bridesmaid position with Dallas Montes of Bakersfield settling into the third position in the early laps that saw a caution period at the lap seven mark.
Hugging the low line of the track in the third and fourth turns, Thorn poked the nose of his Toyota below Lovelace and the two raced side by side as they approached the front stretch. Racing towards the flag stand, Thorn then muscled into the lead that he would never relinquish.
Once in front, Thorn and Lovelace began to distance themselves from the field and reached lapped traffic with just 17 laps down. They continued to keep the fans on the edge of their seats with a hard fought battle for the top spot, one in which Thorn held the upper hand the entire time, despite the pressure from Lovelace.
Following the 53rd lap mark, the pressure from Lovelace diminished when he struck the wall in turn one with damage and retired from the event. The incident placed Montes in the second position, who didn't pose a serious threat to Thorn as the race restarted. For the remainder of the event, Thorn sliced and diced his way through traffic and avoided numerous spins and collisions, many of which occurred directly in his sights within lapped traffic.
At the checkered flag Thorn took the win with Jacob Gomes in his wake. Carlos Vieira was third followed by Jared Vorse, and Jim Pettit II rounding out the top five. The victory not only brought Thorn the cash winnings and the bonus from his primary sponsor, it also places him in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour point lead. With only two events complete in the 10 race series, Thorn and Superior Crankshaft Racing are now poised to race for the 2011 series championship.
"We could not be happier to the start of the season with Derek. To get us into victory circle so quickly in the season just shows how strong and dedicated this Junior Joiner led team is," said Marty Melo, SP Motorsports Marketing Manager. "We have a great driver and team representing us and are confident we will continue to grow and put up the results."
Thorn currently has 131 asphalt starts, a total of 27 wins, 78 top five finishes, 107 top ten placements and has earned fast time a total of 47 times. Round three of the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series will be on May 14th when the tour returns to the Bullring at Vegas.
"Once again I would like to thank JRI Shocks, Eibach Springs, PepperJack Kennels, Hoosier Tires, Joe's Racing products and ARP Bodies. They have been huge supporters of our program. It is nice to be able to give them a win at Roseville ," added Thorn. "We feel confident in the car we have and I feel privileged to be driving a car this good. Dan Joiners' Mother and Grandmother to Junior and Ty Joiner recently passed away. We're dedicating this win to her. The number 26 has a lot of family history in the Joiner family. To drive it home for the win in memory of Eileen leaves me lost for words. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family."
In addition to the title sponsorship of Superior Crankshaft, Derek Thorn carries a great deal of support from a number of marketing partners in the 2011 SRL Spears Southwest Tour. Among the many contributors are Joe Gibbs Driven, Sigma Engineering, Joiner Motorsports, JRI Shocks, Eibach Springs, Joe's Racing Products, ARP Bodies, Finishline Signs, PepperJack Kennels, Fastenal and Encore Metals.
In addition to sponsoring Derek Thorn, Superior Crankshaft is proud to be the official crankshaft of the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series and the sponsor of the Winner's Bonus program for each event. To learn more about Superior Crankshaft Racing and primary driver Derek Thorn, visit them online at www.superiorcrankshaftracing.com. Derek Thorn's personal website can be found at www.derekthorn.com. Further information on Superior Crankshaft and the series can be found at www.superiorcrankshaft.com and www.srlsouthwesttour.com