BAKERSFIELD, California — Derek Thorn, driving Bob Bruncati's Sunrise Ford #6 car in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, West, heads into Saturday's "Star Nursery 200" at the Las Vegas Bullring looking to capitalize on a recent wave of momentum in the series. Thorn has scored three consecutive top-five finishes including a fourth place finish last Saturday afternoon at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota.
Thorn currently runs fourth in the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series, West standings but within striking distance of the points lead. With the 3/8ths mile Las Vegas Bullring on tap, Thorn comes to the race track where has experienced the most success in his racing career.
"Campbell Motorsports gave me an awesome car at Vegas a couple weeks ago allowing us to bring home another SRL win," Thorn said. "I'm really looking forward to carrying that momentum with Sunrise Ford in the West Series. The guys in the shop have been putting in a lot of hours during this three week stretch and what better way to end it than with Vegas!"
This will be the second trip for Thorn in a K&N car to the fast paced bullring. Thorn qualified third at Las Vegas in 2011 but was unable to start the event due to brake issues. The Sunrise Ford team is feeling confident going into Vegas as they know Derek's success in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour there with three career poles and three wins. He also took the pole and win in last year's Fall Classic for open Super Late Models.
The diversity and variety of race tracks on the 2012 K&N West schedule, including four road courses, has challenged Thorn in his first full season in the series. Thorn used Friday's practice session at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota to acquaint himself to the track and provide feedback for crew chief Bill Sedgewick.
On Saturday the team faced a wild and slick practice session with Thorn finding himself fifth overall in the rundown. Heavy rains cancelled qualifying and put the #6 Sunrise Ford machine fourth on a starting grid set by points.
Only one set of tires were allowed to be used for the 125 lap contest on the 2.5 mile road course, putting pit stop strategy on the back burner and placing focus on tire management. Thorn managed to stay within the top-ten while taking care of his tires and emerged back into fifth at the halfway point.
After pit stop sequences Thorn was running fourth and he maintained the fourth position to the finish in the difficult race. The finish placed Thorn just 28 points out of first place in the points standings to set up his run to Las Vegas this weekend.
"Brainerd was a lot of fun. The facility was awesome and the people were extremely nice," Thorn said. "NASCAR found a great place to race and even with the weather, the fans came out in full force. For the little road course experience I have it's great going to new places where we have a level playing field with the veterans."
Following the 200 lapper at Las Vegas, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series will take a few weeks off to prepare for Sonoma on June 23 as a companion to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Thorn will race again at Stockton on June 9 in the Byron Campbell Motorsports #43 for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour to wrap up 10 consecutive weeks of either NASCAR or SRL races.
Derek Thorn would like to thank the following sponsors for their support in 2012: Sunrise Ford, Four Star Fruit, Hronis Racing, Lucas Oil, Eibach Springs, Joe’s Racing Products, Oakley, Double Eagle Transportation, PepperJack Kennels, and Blakesley Sports Media.
Race fans can learn more about Derek Thorn at www.derekthorn.com