LAS VEGAS – Derek Thorn won the 150-lap, $10,000-to-win Open Comp Fall Classic Super Late Model feature tonight at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Bakersfield, Calif. veteran selected a perplexing strategy – opting to start in last place after winning the pole – to overpower some of the best short track drivers in the Western U.S. Thorn cruised around the back of the pack during the first half of the race to conserve his tires, then charged to the front after the mandatory pit stop.
SUPER LATE MODELS: The 2011 edition of the Bullring's fall finale was abbreviated by heavy rains which completely washed out Friday's program of qualifying.
A record 42 cars participated in time trials for the 150-lap Super Late Model feature. Thorn – winner of the SRL Tour Speedfest race at the Bullring on Oct. 29 – set fast time of the day, blazing the 3/8-mile asphalt oval at 14.386 seconds.
The Super Late Model heat races – 15 laps with the first four cars transferring to the 150-lap feature – were won by Luis Martinez and Jason Patison. Bullring regular Glen Burke had to race the hardest in order to gain a starting berth in the feature. Burke had trouble during time trials and wound up 40th. He started last in the second heat, was racing his way into the top four and spun. He restarted the heat race in last place again and drove his way up to third place and into the starting line-up for the 150-lap finale. The 20-lap Super Late Model Last-Chance Race was won by Joe Deguevara.
And if Burke was the hardest-working driver in the field, then Las Vegas' Dylan Kwasniewski was the busiest. Kwasniewski was entered in the Super Late Model, Lucas Oil Modified and Late Model classes.
Rather than halt the race on lap 75 for a traditional "halftime break," rules called for the 10-minute pit stop to occur naturally if possible. If a caution flag flew between laps 75 and 100, race officials would call for the mandatory pit stop. Drivers had to start the race on the same tires they qualified on and also were not allowed to change them during the break.
The race started with a surprise: pole winner Thorn opted to start dead last instead of at the head of the field. Most speculated Thorn's startling move was an effort to conserve rubber: cruise around the track and save the tires for the closing laps of the race.
Joe Farre took the lead on the opening green flag. The first caution flag flew on lap 4 for a crash in Turn 4. Only Dennis Rock's car was unable to pull away from the scene and continue.
Kwasniewski drove to the inside of race leader Alex Haase in turn 4 on lap 27 and took command. Before Haase could close the door, Joe Farre, Chris Eggleston and Chris Clyne slipped past. Farre then raced past Kwasniewski in turn 2 on lap 34. Kwasniewski powered past Farre on lap 44 and began to pull away from the pack.
As the race progressed toward the halfway point, the top five drivers – Kwasniewski, Farre, Clyne, Burke and Scott Gafforini – settled into a single-file rhythm as they negotiated lapped traffic.
Farre passed Kwasniewski on lap 75 as pole winner Thorn was less than a straightaway from going one lap down.
The anticipated caution flag flew on lap 90 for a spin by John Zaretzke. The track crew began a lengthy clean-up session during the 10-minute break as a narrow, 3/8-mile long ribbon of rear end grease was discovered on the track. The race restarted on lap 90 with Farre in the lead. At lap 100, Farre, Kwasniewski and Clyne pulled away from the field as Thorn cruised into fifth place.
Jeff Knight's car stopped in Turn 4 on lap 116 to bring out the caution flag and bunch up the field. The green flag flew with 34 laps remaining and Thorn grabbed third place from Clyne and immediately began battling Kwasniewski for second place. Thorn moved into second place on lap 119 and set his sights on Farre.
He made it look easy. Thorn caught Farre on lap 126, drove under him in Turn 3 and took the lead.
A few moments later, Clyne turned up the heat on Farre for second place. With just 10 laps to go, Clyne muscled under Farre for second place.
As the white flag waved, Thorn put the 10th-place car of Burke one lap down and cruised to a $10,000 victory. Clyne finished second and Farre was third.
During the post-race victory lane interview, Mix 94.1 FM’s Hannah Rickards asked Thorn why he chose to relinquish the pole position and start scratch on the field.
“The Hoosier tires we run at this race are the same tires they’ve been running in the Southwest Tour for the last 10 races and we’ve got a lot of time on them and we knew that 150 laps straight through – Hoosier puts together a great tire – but it’s a tire that at 150 laps it’d definitely be gone,” Thorn explained. “We focused on tire conservation more than track position because this place is really easy to pass off (Turn) 2 if your car’s really good. We were just hoping for no wrecks back there and give ourselves enough room, to save enough of the tires for the end. Luckily enough, it paid off.
“My spotter, Junior Joiner, got me through all this stuff and my crew put together a great car. Sigma Engineering and JRC put it together. This car, it’s the second race we’ve had on it and it’s the second win we have on it.”
Scott Gafforini, the Bullring’s 2011 MetroPCS NASCAR Super Late Model champion, finished 12th.
LUCAS OIL MODIFIEDS: Austin Barnes from Escondido, Calif. won the 75-lap Lucas Oil Modified feature over Aaron McMorran and Scott Winters. Bear Rzesnowiecky of Las Vegas finished fourth and Shelby Strobel finished fifth. Lucas Oil Modified heats were (15 laps) were won by Scott Osborn and Bradley Riethmeyer. The 20-lap Last-Chance Race was won by Roger Wilson.
LATE MODELS: Korbin Thomas of White Rock, B.C., Canada led the 100-lap feature from start to finish. Ryan Partridge was second and Dylan Kwasniewski was third. Late Model heat races (15 laps) were won by Ian Graham and Dave Hemrick. Jacob Bishop won the 20-lap Last-Chance Race.
CHARGERS: The 40-lap Charger feature was won by Jim Petrie, his first victory since 2005. Race leader Patrick O'Hanley spun alone on lap 26 and Petrie was right there to pick up the position. Curtis White finished second and O'Hanley recovered from another spin during the 40-lap feature to claim third place. Kayli Barker was fourth and Brianna Holley finished fifth.
S2 LATE MODELS: The 40-lap S2 Late Model feature was won by Andrew Porter from California. Porter took the lead from Cole Custer on lap 26. Custer finished second and Andrew Anderson was third.
BOMBERS: Jason Kiser led the 30-minute (61 laps) Bomber feature from start to finish. Dallas Simonette was second and Bret Empey finished third.
BANDOLEROS: Chris Trickle won the 20-lap combined Bandolero feature. Early race leader Ricky Lewis went from first to fourth place in Turn 2 on lap 9 when he drifted high on the track and allowed Chris Trickle and Brandon Weaver to slip underneath his car before he could close the door. Trickle was leading a five-car train with just three laps remaining when the pack encountered a group of lapped cars. Trickle drove low on the track and Weaver swung high as the pack barreled down the front straightaway. Trickle held onto the lead with Weaver in hot pursuit. Trickle held on for the win, his second consecutive Open Comp victory. Weaver finished second and Blaine Perkins was third.
LEGEND CARS: The Legend Cars put on a stellar performance and kept the fans on the edge of their seats over the final seven laps. Donny St. Ours of Upland, Calif. scored his first Bullring feature and it was a big win, worth $1,000. St. Ours and Brent Scheidmantle swapped the lead several times in the late stages of the 40-lap feature, allowing C.J. Hulsey to catch up with them and join the fray. Justin Irwin made it a quartet as they battled down the wire. St. Ours crossed the finish line first, followed by Scheidmantle, Hulsey, Irwin and Michael Abbate.
150-LAP SUPER LATE MODEL FEATURE: 1. Derek Thorn (Bakersfield, Calif.), 2. Chris Clyne (Las Vegas), 3. Joe Farre (Henderson), 4. Blake Williams, 5. Dylan Kwasniewski (Las Vegas), 6. Brett Edwards, 7. Eric Richardson, 8. Jason Patison, 9. Tom Berrow, 10. Glen Burke, 11. Korbin Thomas, 12. Scott Gafforini, 13. Dustin Ash, 14. Junior Roddy, 15. Tyler Tanner, 16. John Zaretzke, 17. Jeff Knight, 18. Alex Haase, 19. Chris Eggleston, 20. Joe Deguevera, 21. Toni McCray, 22. Damen Bucken, 23. Robert Ewing, 24. Jim Sikes, 25. Luis Martinez, 26. Dennis Rock Jr.
SUPER LATE MODEL QUALIFYING (TOP 10): 1. Derek Thorn (14.386), 2. Blake Williams (14.487), 3. Joe Farre (14.551), 4. Chris Clyne (14.587), 5. Alex Haase (14.611), 6. Dustin Ash (14.612), 7. Dylan Kwasniewski (14.634), 8. Chris Eggleston (14.640), 9. Tyler Tanner (14.645), 10. Junior Roddy (14.662).
40-lap Charger feature: 1. Jim Petrie, 2. Curtis White, 3. Patrick O'Hanley, 4. Kayli Barker, 5. Brianna Holley, 6. James Lauk, 7. Kolleen Dresser, 8. Houston Simonette.
40-lap S2 Late Model feature: 1. Andrew Porter, 2. Cole Custer, 3. Andrew Anderson, 4. Anthony Giannone, 5. Jessica Clark, 6. Nik Romano, 7. Randel King, 8. Trevor Huddleston, 9. Bill Waters, 10. Gary Waters.
20-lap Bandolero feature: 1. Chris Trickle, 2. Brandon Weaver, 3. Blaine Perkins, 4. Kayli Barker, 5. Ricky Lewis, 6. Matt Emery, 7. Austin Morris, 8. Sam Jacks, 9. Mason Sargent, 10. Gianna Marretti, 11. Gino Marretti, 12. John Spilotro, 13. Taylor Hopper, 14. Tommy Trickle, 15. Phillip Root, 16. Cami Burke, 17. Caden Carlin, 18. Kyle Jacks.
30-minute (61 laps) Bomber feature: 1. Jason Kiser, 2. Dallas Simonette, 3. Bret Empey, 4. Nathan Boss, 5. Mark Sargent, 6. John Zaretzke, 7. Josh Morgan, 8. Martin Sullins, 9. Rick Morales, 10. Jason Faz, 11. Cayla Bronston, 12. Jason Sullins, 13. Roland Pelletier, 14. Steve Borkowski.
40-lap Legend Cars feature: 1. Donny St. Ours, 2. Bren Scheidmantle, 3. C.J. Hulsey, 4. Justin Irwin, 5. Michael Abbate, 6. Chris Eggleston, 7. Josh Fultz, 8. Robert D'Ambra, 9. Nick Halen, 10. Tom Lovelady, 11. Christian Warren, 12. Ian Anderson, 13. Jason Irwin, 14. Jared Torres, 15. Andrew Muscannell, 16. Devin Mack, 17. Zac Stepke, 18. Matthew Hicks.
100-lap Late Model feature: 1. Korbin Thomas, 2. Ryan Partridge, 3. Dylan Kwasniewski, 4. Travis Irving, 5. Brandon Davis, 6. Andrew Murray, 7. Dave Hemrick, 8. Shawn Woodside, 9. Brandon Loverock, 10. Kenny Smith, 11. Tom Berrow, 12. Tim Smith, 13. Darrell Midgeley, 14. Jason Tarasenko, 15. Michael Self, 16. Bob Williams, 17. Dave Arce, 18. Brandon Carlson, 19. Dale Reeder, 20. Ian Graham, 21. Kyle McGrady, 22. Devon Ostheimer, 23. Jacob Bishop, 24. Nik Romano, 25. Toni McCray, 26. Riley Seibert.
75-lap Lucas Oil Modified feature: 1. Austin Barnes, 2. Aaron McMorran, 3. Scott Winters, 4. Bear Rzesnowiecky, 5. Shelby Strobel, 6. Guy Young, 7. Scott Osborn, 8. Rich Lindgren, 9. Darren Snider, 10. Lynn Hardy, 11. Jason McClure, 12. Tom Hynes, 13. Pat Petrie, 14. Jarred Beddow, 15. Roger Wilson, 16. Russ Ward, 17. Bradley Tilton, 18. Dylan Kwasniewski, 19. Doug Hamm, 20. Joe Deguevera, 21. Matt Ith Jr., 22. Wes Miller, 23. Tom Lovelady, 24. Cody Thompson, 25. Bradley Riethmeyer, 26. Jason Bamberg.